Wild Hearts Necklace
Etsy Shop: http://gwen.etsy.com
Tell us about yourself.
I live in Alameda, California, which is an island right next to and across the bay from San Francisco, with my daughter, my boyfriend, and their two cats. I'm self-employed and really love the flexibility of that -- I can take a really long break to go read on the beach [it's around the corner] or meet up with a friend right in the middle of the day then do my work in the evening instead if I want. I started taking a painting class this semester -- I never had any art in school, so this is new for me and a lot of fun. Just on an educational level, it's been amazing -- I'm already seeing all kinds of things I never noticed before when I look at art, and it's been inspiring in my jewelry making as well.
What are you currently doing besides your creative craft?
I'm a freelance graphic designer. I mostly make web sites for a couple publishers and a bunch of small businesses/artists. I've been a freelancer since 2000, when I was laid off FOUR TIMES, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
What is/are the address for your Etsy shop?
Find me at http://gwen.etsy.com
What do you offer in your Etsy shop?
"Hand-crafted beaded jewelry -- earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other accessories in charming and sophisticated vintage and modern styles using vintage and modern materials" is my current description. Eventually I'd like to write something more specific, but it's still a lot of fun trying out new things so I went with something more broad.
Where do you create?
I try to go to crafting meet-ups regularly, I am lucky to have several ongoing ones to choose from locally -- it's really helpful for getting feedback, tips, ideas, and the occasional compliment, which feels especially great when it's coming from a fellow crafter. I also like to bead while sipping coffee at my favorite café and at home while watching TV.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I really love mid-century style -- 1970s-inspired earthtones, 1960s mod colors, 1930s-40s Frida Kahlo/Josephine Baker/Carmen Miranda-ready bright fruits, romantic art deco flowers and leaves.
How did you get started in your line of business?
I started jewelry making in mid-2008, and I have been practicing steadily since then. It's just recently that I've felt confident enough to try selling some of my pieces. Also, I was accruing way more jewelry than I could ever use and wanted to start making back some of the cash I've been blowing on supplies so I can buy more ;]
How do you promote your business?
Right now, I'm still working on filling up my shop -- the photographing and writing are a lot of work! I've been looking more and more at what other people are doing -- updating the store often, blogging when you do and social networking seem to be the more popular methods of getting your name out there so I'm working on that next. And I've been looking into various street teams -- EAOC is the first I've joined.
What is one of your most important lessons you've learned since starting your business?
I really wish I had kept better track of the materials I've bought -- where they came from, what they're made of, how old they are, how much they cost. I've only started doing that recently and it makes writing up my listings, tagging, and pricing a lot easier when I know.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Experiment with everything you can think of as often as possible.
What are some of your favorite online shops on and off Etsy?
Vintage beads: http://www.etsy.com/shop/beadbrats
Handpainted accessories: http://www.etsy.com/shop/vozclothingandart
Palette genius: http://www.etsy.com/shop/sharonclancydesigns and http://www.etsy.com/shop/tqbdesigns
And this one isn't online, but I want to recommend Sharilyn Miller's Bead on a Wire book to anyone who's interested in learning some wirework. It's by far the most comprehensible book I've seen for a hands-on learner like me.
What are your other sites (i.e. Blogger, Wordpress, Facebook, Twitter)?
Congratulations, Gwen on being EAOC's featured artist.
Tune in on Wednesday to meet our next featured artist.