YouTube is a hub of creativity with millions of DIY tutorials. One of the most popular types of DIY are makeup tutorials and nail art designs. Among the many YouTube channels dedicated to DIY is “akimit1114” which is run by Timika Deener.

The unique channel is called "A Handful of Blessings," and it was initially started to share hair tips. Timika’s hair tutorials were quickly followed by her complex and beautiful nail art, which became the main staple of her beauty talents. After gaining a substantial following, Timika decided to share her clothing and shoe designs with her viewers.

Although she had been designing clothes and accessories for her mother and herself for years, Timika had never considered herself a designer until she started getting complimentary comments via her YouTube viewers.

After sharing her designs on YouTube for a number of years, Timika decided to start her own business--MECHIES--with the support of her family and fans. The business is a “custom bling” company where Timika makes shoes, handbags, and other items upon request. Via the MECHIES brand, Timika creates show designs for women and babies, as well as purses, phone cases, water bottles, and an array of other accessories. Rhinestones and ribbons are staples of her designs although she is open to using a range of materials.

Timika recently granted an exclusive interview where she discussed designing items, running a Youtube Channel, starting up a business, and more.

Embracing creativity via YouTube

Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you first discover your creativity and how did you initially express it?

Timika Deener (TD): I first discovered a tiny bit of my creativity when I was in the 9th grade.

I remember taking "Home Economics" and my teacher, Miss Burton, had us make a jumpsuit as a project. I remember me and my mom going out to a fabric store and looking over bolts of fabric until I finally decided on the pattern I wanted. It was actually the first time I had ever gone into a fabric store, and I loved it! I made the jumpsuit, and we wore it to school.

It was the first time I had ever made anything, actually. We also made pillows as a class project shaped like the initial of our last names--mine was "W" at that time.

I began to express my creativity by trying different things. In high-school, I re-designed a denim suit I had with some old left-over fabric. I added some sequins to it which I sewed on by hand one by one. I got a lot of compliments on it, but I was too shy to say that I designed it myself, so I told no one!

MM: You started your channel to do hairstyles and quickly added nail art to the roster. Most of your designs are very complex and professional, so how did you learn your skills?

TD: Yes, I started off doing micro-braids and styles on my channel, mainly because there weren’t many braided style videos out at the time, now there are so many!

I then added nail art because I wanted to do something different on my channel. I love nail art and designs as well. I prefer doing them on my natural nails but sometimes I added on acrylic nails and did the designs on them. I am not a nail tech or a professional in fact I just basically practice until I learned how to do them. I remember the first time I painted Tweety on my nails, at the time I thought it was so cute, but after going back and looking at it, it looked a hot mess! Yet over time with practice, my hand-painted designs on my nails got better and better. This is why I tell my subscribers on YouTube not to get discouraged if you keep practicing you will become better!

MM: You bling out shoes, pursues, swimsuits, and more using rhinestones.

How long does it take to complete a design and how do you secure the stones, so they don’t fall off?

TD: Some of the designs I do are very time-consuming; I think a pair of boots that I designed once took me over a week to complete once. I don't mind how long it takes really as long as the ending results are what I imagined it to be. To secure the stones I just focus on a small area at a time, placing each crystal on one by one and carefully making sure that there is enough glue holding it. You may occasionally get pop off on shoes, especially around the heel and tip of platform depending on how rough you are when wearing them but that is okay. I always include a small bag of extra crystals with items just in case.

MM: What made you decide to start a YouTube channel and what was it like to gain such a big following?

TD: I decided to do YouTube back in 2010 because I wanted to show some of the styles I wore my microbraids in. Gaining subscribers were so hard when I first started because I was new and my videos didn't receive many views at first. I actually stop focusing on the subscribers and began to just have fun with my channel and when I did the subscribers just came over time. I love and appreciate them all. Some of them have been with me since the beginning. I still can't believe how many like my work; it’s always a shock to see more join. I remember shopping at Wal-Mart on two separate occasions and both times ladies recognized me!

Shoes and starting a company

MM: What prompted you to start MECHIES and what was it like to establish the company, get it off the ground, and keep it afloat?

TD: As stated several times, I am and will always be no matter how old I get a Huge Tweety Fan! I always wanted a pair of high heels with Tweety bird on them but could never find them, of course. So, I decided to created my own. I took a pair of white peep-toe platform heels and drew Tweety on them, then covered them completely in rhinestones. This was the first pair of shoes I ever completely covered in crystals. I uploaded the video on YouTube and after that many subscribers--along with my husband and parents--suggested that I start designing and selling shoes.

So, I did.

I named my company Mechies. I was so afraid at first to start my own company that I had my husband and parents supporting me all the way. They are my biggest fans. I also had encouragement from a lot of my subscribers. I love it now, there is still a lot for me to learn but for the most part, I have been enjoying the process. Getting it off the ground was pretty easy since I had a YouTube Channel I just posted my work there for all to see. I actually still post videos of my work. Keeping it afloat is pretty easy because of YouTube which I am so grateful for, and Instagram. Since I work for myself, I can set the number of hours a day I work and which days I decide to relax and do nothing (which I normally do on Saturdays and Sundays).

MM: In what ways did you grandmother, the namesake of the company, inspire you?

TD: My grandmother was such a loving and down to earth person who spoke her mind with a great sense of humor. She would always make me smile. This is one of the reasons why I named my business after her. She's gone, but she’s still making me smile. The only thing I made for her was some pillows. She passed away before I discovered the other creativity I had but she loved the pillows I made her so much! She was always supportive of my talent by encouraging me to reach further. She had a positive outlook on life so I wanted my company to have a positive slogan as well. MECHIES stands for "Making Everyday Challenges Have Incredible Effects Somehow," and the logo is simply a leopard-print heart with an "M" inside it which stands for Mechies.

The leopard heart represents my grandmother’s love for leopard print which is what inspired this logo.

MM: You make clothes for your parents and yourself, so have you ever considered reaching out to companies to see if they would mass produce and sell some of your designs?

TD: One of my dreams actually is to have a Mechies Line, that would be a dream come true. Even though the thought of it actually happening scares me but I am definitely open to a company mass producing my designs. In fact, I saw that a Christian Louboutin Fall 2017 Shoe Design looks exactly like a design I created in 2013 called "Cubical.” I was a little excited to see this design mass produce, but it’s not in the "Mechies" Logo.

MM: Of all the shoes, pursues, and outfits you have either made or beautified, have you any particular favorites?

TD: I love pattern designs and mix and matching patterns rather than solid color. My favorite designs so far are "Cubical,” "Leopard Bloom,” "Peacock Me,” "Color Me Badd" and the "3D Red Rose Checkerboard" set. I love mixing patterns in usual ways. I love having fun with my designs. My favorite designs to do are when a customer is not sure what they want but gives me several different patterns they like and to combine all those liked patterns together and come up with 1 design they love has always been my absolute favorite pattern to do.

MM: What is coming up next for you and how do you plan to expand both your YouTube channel and Mechies over the next ten years?

TD: In the next ten years I would like to be well-known for custom shoes, etc. When thinking of your special event, I want you to think of Mechies Custom Bling. I would love to see my designs in boutiques and on runways. Since each piece is custom designed by me, that’s going to be a lot of hard work. I want to add blinged furniture, chairs, home décor, and more to my online store. That’s my big goal. At this time, I am working on inventory for my online store. I want to add more items to it. Right now, the store is actually under construction on my new website. I should have it up and running fully by the end of February, so look out for blinged vanity mirrors, and more!

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To learn more, visit the official MECHIES website by Googling “Mechies Custom Bling.” You can also find Timika’s channel on YouTube by searching "A Handful of Blessings.”