I recently answered questions posed by Gypsy Farmhouse Market for their "Meet the Maker" series. Here's a fun way to learn about me...
How did your jewelry business get its start?
I had been in the corporate world for over 30 years and was always finding ways to express my creativity on the side by making handmade jewelry, doing landscape photography, casting resin pendants, making stained glass art pieces, working on black & white photography, painting abstracts with acrylic and inks, working with fiber, taking various art & technique classes, etc. Finally, a life change created the opportunity for me to turn my creativity into a business! I left the corporate world and decided to focus first on making jewelry because it allows me to use so many creative techniques that I love. Since I know so many different techniques, I also started making accessories and a small number of home décor items along with my jewelry.
Start Creating My Jewelry
First, I went crazy creating a lot of different pieces - all types of earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, bookmarks, keychains, wine charms - you name it, I made it! I greatly enjoyed the freedom to express myself with abandon. Once I got that out of my system :), I went to my first craft fair and found that yes, people liked my artisan jewelry. After another couple of fairs, I started to split my time between making new jewelry and accessories and planning how I wanted to approach my new business. As much as we all love the creating part of a handmade artisan business, it is a business and it needs a plan.
Start Selling My Jewelry
I first started selling my work at a holiday craft fair in 2016, and continued to attended artisan and craft fairs after that. However, my focus has changed over time ... I’m currently building out the rest of my business - not just going to craft fairs - but moving my jewelry onto my new website, selling my work to local stores and from local shops & galleries and now spreading the word on social media. There is so much to do and I’m loving every bit of it!
What sparks your creativity most?
So many things spark my creativity! Sometimes I just wake up in a super energized and creative mood. Wow, those are great days! Other times, I’ll see something - like a combination of colors, or something outside in the mountains here, or a certain shape - and those things will give me an idea that I want to try right away. Many times I love just looking at my natural stones and letting them inspire me. They are all beautiful reminders of the gorgeous world around us - each stone is its own piece of art! The colors and shapes found in nature influence everything I do, no matter what technique I am using.
Share a funny story about your business.
Hmmm…The funniest thing I can think of right now is recently someone contacted me about making a personalized custom necklace for a friend’s upcoming 50th birthday. She had seen my website and liked my work so wanted me to design something unique for her friend. The funny thing about the story is…. she wanted the necklace to include some hair from her friend’s horse!! She asked her friend to mail her some of her horse’s hair for a “surprise” and then handed me an envelope full of horse hair to work with! What a funny meeting that was! Her friend had no idea what was going on and in the end was very surprised by the resin, copper and leather necklace with pendant I designed and created using her horse’s hair! :)
What kind of music do you listen to while you create your jewelry?
It depends how I feel and what I’m working on. I tend to listen to classic rockers like Bruce Springsteen, or newer rock bands like One Republic. Sometimes I feel like I want soaring instrumental music so I’ll listen to the cello and piano of The Piano Guys. They are really inspiring. I love their song “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets”.
Of all the products you create, which is your very favorite? Which is a customer best-selling favorite?
Ohhh… my favorite style? That’s a hard question since I love so many artistic techniques! I love natural stone, so I want to say anything I make using my semi-precious stones with silver is my favorite. The beauty of natural stone is why I started creating jewelry to begin with.
But, I think my favorite right now is my hand-torched flame copper jewelry. I use my hand torch to “paint” with the flame - creating amazing colors on copper for earrings, necklaces and cuff bracelets. It’s like free-form abstract art on jewelry. No two pieces will ever look the same, and since various weather factors change how the colors will come out on the copper, you can never be sure what colors you will get on any day! It’s very rare to find this kind of jewelry - it’s beautiful, organic and unique. I love it - and my customers love it - making it my best-selling jewelry at every show or store.
Do you have fashion styles that you incorporate into your jewelry?
Oh, most definitely! There are so many different styles of handmade jewelry out there, but I don't design to match them all. I do create a mix of designs that go with various styles, but I do not chase the constantly changing fashion trends. You won't see me pouring over the latest in-vogue jewelry worn by the models at the fashion shows. My jewelry designs tend to be simple and organic - with lines and flows that you see in nature.
Some of my jewelry would be considered modern, other styles are bohemian, many have an artsy flair. I do fit quite a range in fashion - just compare my modern and classic looking Onyx Hammered Silver Sticks earrings to the organic & more bohemian style of my Tigereye Stacks On Copper. No matter what style, though, I absolutely want my jewelry to let people make the statement that they are connected to nature and the outdoors whether they are at work or out on the town - that's why my tagline is "Bring Nature, The Outdoors And Art With You Wherever You Go". It's exactly what I want my jewelry to do!
What do you like about selling at Handmade Markets?
I like being surrounded by other artists and their creations. I really love handmade fairs, shops and pop-up markets - they are unique and you can always find a different interpretation of the “same ol’ product” because each artisan stamps it with their own personality and creativity. Every Market that emphasizes Handmade Products over mass produced products is unique because different vendors attend different Markets every year. I always find something new to bring home for myself at every Handmade Fair I attend!
What's the best thing about running your own business? The worst?
The best thing is that I am in control of what I do. Creating and running a business is a lot of work besides the creating part, but I can choose what I want to do and when. I was in the corporate world for 30+ years and I made the decision to leave that and start my own business so I could let my creativity flow and work for myself, not a corporation.
The worst thing about running your own business…hmm…I’d have to say that as great as it is to be able to do everything yourself, that’s also the problem(!). It’s just me, so I am constantly juggling through the things that need to be done because I can’t just create all the time, I have to run a business. Once I create a piece, there is a large amount of time I need to spend photographing it, writing up product information, posting the piece on my website then throughout social media, packaging it, keeping it shiny & clean, planning how to display it, taking it to craft fairs… and more! :) People don’t realize all the other work that goes into a piece besides its creation. That might be the “worst thing" - but it’s still the most satisfying experience I’ve ever had to be able to design, create and sell my jewelry!
Want to know more about me?
Feel free to send me your questions and I'll answer!