By Libby Hopkins

Mary Valesano of Brandon has a “hobby gone awry” as she likes to call it. Her hobby is beading, or jewelry making. Valesano is a teacher at Ruskin Elementary School and she was looking for a hobby that she could do to help her unwind after work, so she got into beading. She began making lanyards to hold ID cards for herself and her co-workers. They were a hit. “My fellow teachers were interested in purchasing them, which led me to create my own beading business called The Manic Beader,” Valesano said, “I also do bead parties where guests get to pick out their beads and together we make their unique creations.” She was able to combine two of her passions; teaching and beading.

Valesano is a member of Bay Life Church in Brandon and the church supports a ministry called La Provedencia in Siguatapeque, Honduras. The goal of this ministry was to help the area with its construction needs, but now that the goals have been met, the ministry is helping them create self-sustaining industries. A member of the church suggested to Valesano that she and her daughter, Alexandra, go to Honduras to teach the residents of Siguatapeque how to bead. Honduras has a unique kind of clay that is used to make Lenca pottery and beads. Valesano created a line of jewelry that would highlight and showcase the unique clay beads.

“I designed them in a way that would  appeal to the American market so that the creations could be brought back to America and sold here,” Valesano said. The women of Siguatapeque and Valesano made over 300 pieces of jewelry while on the mission trip. The women also learned how to have bead parties of their own so they can generate an income for themselves. “We love these precious people and we want to encourage and support them,” Valesano said. If you would like to see some of the jewelry Valesano has made or if you would like to have a bead party, you can visit her website at or call her at 464-5766.

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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.