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Mona Castle focuses in on her passion.

SPRINGFIELD – Mona Castle, like many small business owners struggling with the economic effects of the pandemic, was forced to make hard decisions regarding her beads business. One might say it was hanging on by a thread.

“I’m really lucky to have found a place in Springfield,” said Castle, 50. “It was either move or shut down because I’d exhausted every resource I had.” 

Castle relocated her shop, Mona Beads & Creations, from Eugene to Springfield last September, setting up shop at 659 A St.

Business customers in her Eugene store had become so scarce that she almost had to put everything in storage and permanently close her doors. It was only when her mother and store helper, Linda Clausen, spotted an open, smaller space just a block off Historic Main Street that she felt a flutter of hope. Although Castle describes it as “organized chaos,” she’s managed to squeeze in almost all of her beads into the new space. 

Nevertheless, moving during a pandemic has called for countless adjustments. For example, supplies such as wire-straightening pliers are nearly impossible to find and Castle has had to downsize the amount of consignment artists she works with from 30 to only four. 

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Owner Mona Castle said that while she downsized her store size, she’s been able to squeeze in most of her stock.

“I realized during lockdown that I need to have a smaller footprint in the future,” she said. 

Although Lane County’s continuous high risk levels continue to strain her establishment, the city leaders have given Castle a warm welcome by showing its support of her small business.

“Before I was even done setting up, one of the first visitors I had was Springfield’s Chamber of Commerce,” Castle said. “They even brought me hand sanitizers and face masks.”

COVID-19 restrictions, she said, have forced her to give up one of her most-fulfilling activities: teaching group classes. Castle said she misses helping new beaders, and being able to help experienced beaders improve on their techniques. In one-on-one settings, Castle is still teaching customers. But she’s eager for the day that it’s safe to hold a class, where she’ll demonstrate how to make beaded creations, whether it be a necklace or a bookmark. 

“Beads aren’t only used for jewelry,” Castle said. “Everything that anybody has can have a bead on it, from your keychain to your shower curtain. And it doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby.”

Castle, born in Glenwood, Ore., said “every color of stone has a powerful purpose” and beads are “neither feminine or masculine.” 

This mindset is evident inside her shop. Every corner of Mona Beads and Creations is filled with a rainbow assortment of gemstones, crystals, and glass. She selects everything she sells – mostly sourced from Hong Kong – and says that much of it is for “people who practice an earth-based spiritual path.” In fact, Castle adorns herself with tourmaline beads, which she identifies as a “multivitamin,” as its energy aligns all seven of her chakras. Her mom, on the other hand, wears amber daily to aid her thyroid.

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Mona Castle, right, and her mother, Linda Clausen, help customers with more than jewelry.

“I wear mala beads Mona made me with two different kinds of amber on it along with all the birthstones of my kids and grandkids,” Linda said, noting that Mona makes all of her jewelry. “It makes my heart feel good to see her here and doing what she loves.”

“Beads are healing for your soul and your body,” she said. “I think people often forget how important they are to us.”

Castle is well-educated on the history of beads. Therefore, she can prescribe them for specific ailments. Whether a customer needs more self-love, balance or sleep, she’ll know exactly which strand will be of assistance. According to her, the act of beading is a form of self-care in and of itself. 

“When your hands are chatty, your mind is quiet,” Castle said. 

Agreeably, research from Sanford Health found that handwork is beneficial for mental and physical health because it fosters creativity and sparks a sense of accomplishment. Castle said that even a half-hour of beading can lengthen someone’s lifespan. 

“Beading puts you at ease. It’s very cathartic to empty your mind,” she said. “I’m obsessed with beads and have been for 30 years.” 

Castle fell in love with beadwork when she was a teenager, but didn’t think it could turn into a career. She has been able to make that passion her job through determination, hard work and a genuine love of what she does. She started working at Harlequin Beads in Eugene when she was 24 years old, and stayed there for 22 years. In 2016, she opened her own store with her grandfather’s inheritance and the help of her mother. Castle spends her days making and repairing jewelry and buying beads that speak to her, like “rad” mercury beads that spark in the dark.

“It’s like my DNA is called to beads and my genetic memory knows that this is my happiness,” Castle said. 

Mona Beads & Creations is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Castle encourages people to come in, find beads that are in their budget – she has a $1 basket – and learn techniques that can be done before bed to provide peace.