Renee Trikolas has a message for women trying to recover from a divorce: You can rebuild your life.
The Kildeer mom of two not only appeared on a VH1 program designed to help people let go of the past, but she also launched a successful jewelry line that has been featured in places like Trump Tower in Chicago.
"There are only two options, and I chose to be happy," said Trikolas. "I'm so happy. This is actually the happiest I've ever been in my entire life."
Trikolas said prior to her divorce, she and her husband "lived like we were rock stars for many years." Post-divorce, Trikolas said she found herself lost.
"For weeks, months and years, I thought, 'What am I going to do with my life?'" she said.
A friend suggested Trikolas get back into the jewelry business she'd launched years before. Years ago, Trikolas started making bracelets with Swarovski crystals.
"I just started making some bracelets for fun," said Trikolas. She gave a stack of bracelets to her mom, who returned and said, "Renee, these women were just buying these bracelets off my arm.'"
Trikolas made more bracelets and started taking orders. A woman even asked Trikolas if she would do a bracelet show at her home. After going out and buying items like tablecloths and other decor, Trikolas held the show — and sold more than $1,000 worth of bracelets.
Soon, she was booking even more parties, often doing three to four shows a week.
"It sucked the life out of me," Trikolas said of driving all over Chicagoland and being away from her family.
She eventually stopped holding parties and instead switched to selling her bracelets from a catalogue — and at places like Nordstrom and various boutiques. That all stopped once Trikolas and her husband divorced — until her friend's suggestion inspired her to start her jewelry business "basically from scratch again."
This time, things are different, however, with Trikolas largely selling her bracelets online through her Isabella Rose Designs website and occasional trunk shows.
VH1 Comes Calling
During her quest to rebuild her life, Trikolas was approached by a casting director while shopping at Bloomingdale's in Chicago. The casting director asked Trikolas if she'd like to audition for a new reality show — House of Consignment — on VH1. During the show, eDrop-Off owner Corri McFadden helps women clear their closets and sell the items.
The episode Trikolas appeared on aimed to help her rebuild her confidence after her divorce. She filmed with the VH1 crew and staff for about 14 hours.
"It was like all of a sudden, I'm hooked up to a mic and I've got cameras following me around," said Trikolas.
Though she was told that people can have an emotional attachment to clothes, Trikolas was skeptical.
"Once (McFadden) took it away, for a few days I was actually physically sick," said Trikolas. "She was right — I didn't want to let it go."
Now, Trikolas said, she would recommend it to anybody.
"Why was I holding on to that?" said Trikolas. After selling the items, Trikolas walked away with "a few thousand dollars," and she donated money to charity. "It was a great experience. I had a wonderful time."
Trikolas is now focusing her time and energy on her children and her business.
"I want to stand on my own two feet," she said. "People love my jewelry and it makes me happy. I actually like what I do."
Her message for women facing divorce?
"It's not a death sentence. You can rebuild your life."