In this blog series, I usually interview creative business owners who have been at it for some time, and have established a full time business. Here’s the thing that’s easy to overlook: everybody starts out playing with an idea that just won’t stop rolling around in their mind.
Wrenbirdarts was my 2nd handmade business, and embroidery was the 3rd handmade business idea (jewelry, bags and wallets, embroidery) since 2002. For me, I always knew that I wanted to start my own business, though when I was younger, my dream was a coffee shop/bookstore. And what started out as an idea, and experimenting with different techniques and designs, evolved into a respectable embroidery business.
When I was just getting started, which for me was about an 12 year beginning, I didn’t post on social media for my business, and I didn’t put myself out there and talk about my work or that I was starting a business. Looking back, I think that most of that was a confidence issue, and I was really afraid of criticism and that not everyone would like my work. Now I know that not everyone will like my work, that’s unavoidable, and I know how important social media and exposure from other blogs and links from other business’ social media is to drive traffic to my shop.
I do have a point here, and what I am trying to highlight is that the 2 people that I am interviewing today, though they are just getting started, are already putting their work out onto the internets, and that is a big, gutsy move!
Without further ado, I want to introduce you to a couple of artisans who are in that starting place, and moving past the hobby stage into the business stage. Here we go!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Jessica: I’m really excited to participate in your blog Erin, thank you for having me! I’m Jessica and I live in Fairbanks, Alaska. I live in a cute little cabin outside of town with my dog Andy and my cat Alkin.
Mike: I’m Mike Valle, an art school grad with a degree in furniture design. I’m a designer, creator and engineer. I’m originally from a small town outside of Boston, but now live in the Greensboro, NC area. Work brought me down here, but I won’t complain, especially during the winter months.
What is your creative business?
Jessica: My creative business is Sweetpea Jeweled, and I create handmade statement jewelry. I am in my second full year of operation and it is not yet my full time gig. That is the goal for one day though.
Mike: I create mosaic portraits using bottle caps. It’s more of a hobby at this point, but who knows where it will go.
How did you get started in your creative endeavor?
Jessica: I’ve always been a creative person. Nurturing my creativity and making things fires me up, it’s my passion and I feel that it touches my soul. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit as well so it really evolved organically from a love to make things to a desire to do something for a living that I’m passionate about.
I have done some small shows and bazaars locally, but my business is primarily e-commerce. I find the local shows a great way to get face to face feedback and when I have the time (and energy, they’re a lot of work) I’ll do one.
Mike: I started saving caps when I was in college with no real plan for them, until a few years ago, when I made the Mona Lisa. I’m lucky enough to have family and friends around the country that help save caps for me as well as a few local bars.
Describe a ritual or routine that keeps you grounded?
Jessica: I find it keeps me grounded to take time before bed to dump my thoughts out. I do some reflection and then I journal. Whatever feels like it needs to get out gets dumped onto paper. Sometimes it’s something emotional that feels unresolved and sometimes it’s ideas and things that I want to pursue in the future. I really find this quiet time essential and it’s easy for me to do in the evening, because I’m relaxed and ready to quiet my mind.
Mike: Not particularly, each piece is different and I use a few different methods for creating them. I wish it were more cut and dry, but I suppose that what makes them unique. Completing the glue up is the thing I look forward to most, as it’s a relief that all the caps are finally secure.
How do you practice self-care/prevent burnout?
Jessica: The number one way I keep from burning out is knowing when I need to take a break. It took me awhile to finally listen to my body and mind and know when I’m going past striving to a breaking point. It’s true everyone has their own unique makeup, and for me, I cannot be in a constant state of pushing myself. When I feel like I’m drained and uninspired I’ll take time to unwind and remove myself from “work.” Some of the ways that I do this are to take a really long walk in the woods or to play brain puzzles. I’ve found that some of my best ideas and inspiration come during or after I take all of the pressure off. Not everyone performs well under pressure, HA! 🙂
Mike: This is my get away. Creating these helps me escape the stresses of the day. I have other hobbies including woodworking, and stained glass that help me relax.
Where can we see more of your work?
My website is www.sweetpeajeweled.com
; you can access my online shop and read my blog, which has some inside peeks at my process. The blog is fairly new though, so I would be honored if you’d check it out. I’m also active on instagram, which I absolutely loooooove. Instagram is so pretty and fun! www.instagram.com/sweetpeajeweled
I loved posting these interviews today, it’s a gentle reminder of how scary it was to take that first step. That was the most difficult for me, and I would do a million things differently now, but that’s all part of the learning process and taking that barfy feeling leap!