I also got these, which are absolutely lovely in person!
Okay, so enough gushing from me. Here is Katy's feature!
Tell a little about yourself.
Growing up in a home with both artistic and creative parents, I felt that it was in my blood to become an artist. Early on, I dabbled in almost every medium from ceramics, batiking, silk dying, watercolor, and sewing to photography, but it was in jewelry design that I found a good niche. When my father, a glass blower, gave me a book on jewelry design, I delved further into the art. Although I had been crafting treasures for my family and friends, a great opportunity came to me when I was 17. A friend of mine was wearing a piece of my jewelry when she was shopping in a boutique. The owner loved what she was wearing so much that he inquired as to where she got it. Soon, I placed my jewelry in that boutique and my pieces began to sell. It was then that I knew I was onto something.
Driven to turn my jewelry-making passion into a growing business, I decided to take a chance and form South Paw Studios. Thanks to an encouraging husband and loving family, I was able to devote all of my attention to the designing and creating of wearable art. Owning my own business was a dream come true -- and it still is.
I have been active in the jewelry trade for ten years. My collections have grown to include custom bridal sets, bookmarks, a wholesale line and one-of-a-kind pieces. I am continuously evolving and staying up to date on the trends and new ideas in the industry. I am the sole artist behind South Paw Studios -- there are no production lines or kits used in my work. I use only the finest gemstones, venetian glass and metals.
We are also a military family. My husband was active duty Army for 6 years, served in Iraq, and now he is a full-time member of the Ohio Air National Guard, 180th Fighter Wing. We are also the proud parents to a little 2 1/2 year old boy.
When did you open your Etsy shop?
What inspired the name of your shop?
I chose South Paw Studios because I am left-handed and I make handcrafted jewelry and thought it sounded cool. I chose to be South Paw Studios, instead of South Paw Jewelry, because I never wanted my business name to limit what I could create. Now, I have South Paw Beads, and maybe soon, South Paw Weddings. But, South Paw Studios jewelry design will always be my flag ship line and anything else will fall under it.
Do you have any advice for fledgeling shop owners such as myself?
If I had the first year to do over again I would have started as an LLC instead of a sole proprietorship. That way I could have had my own business line of credit without having to worry about stretching my family's financial limits. I also wish I wouldn't have spent so much money on bad inventory. I bought some bad quality beads in the beginning and was buying them about once a week, which was not a good spending habit since I was paying a lot in shipping costs each month. Plus with the beads being poor quality the work that I created didn't sell as fast. Always spend the money on higher quality materials, it makes your work more reputable and sets you apart from some of the poor craftsmanship that is out there.
Do you have a blog?
What was the reason for you to start a blog?
I saw a lot of other Etsy artists were using a blog as a way of promoting their work as well as others, and it was a way to share great information, such as your Etsy link or photography tutorials.
How do you deal with the ups and downs of retail in handmade sales?
The ups and downs are okay now, but there was a time, about a year ago, that things were mighty slow for South Paw Studios. That is when and why I started South Paw Beads. More and more I started looking at my bins and realized, "hey, I could open a store with all these beads". So I thought I would list a few of Ebay and Etsy and THEY SOLD, much to my surprise. The entrepreneur blood in me said, "hey, I can do this". It has been great fun, and gives me even more of an excuse to BUY MORE SWAROVSKIS (which my husband just loves, hehe). It also helps in this uncertain economy because if I am not making a sale on a particular day in jewelry, then most of the time I am making a sale selling beads, or vice versa. It is a great way to liquidate old inventory, and it definitely keeps the cash flow moving. It is extremely frustrating when there is no cash flow.
What is your favorite color, food, and person?
Favorite color is easy -- purple. It always has been since I was a little girl. Food -- pizza and steak are tied. For my favorite person, well, my best friend, Shelly. She is like my soul sister; no one gets me better than her! I also love my husband, but he is a given, or else I wouldn't have married him. :-)
Do you have a favorite item in your shop? What inspired you to create it?
My favorite item in my shop right now is my hand fabricated swirl earrings.
I am trying to move more into fabrication of metal, and this is one of my first creations in that series; and I am also completely addicted to swirls. It drives my husband crazy.
Are there any random facts about yourself that you'd like to share?
I taught myself how to juggle, and the sound of crunching lettuce makes me nauseous (weird I know).
How long after opening your Etsy shop did you have your first customer?
The first day, I had a sale, then there was a dry spell for about 2 1/2 months. Then the holiday season hit, and it hasn't stopped since then.
Do you have a job separate from Etsy?
Nope! Jewelry design IS my full-time job, and has been my full-time job since June of 2002. It took 5 years to get to that point (started in Oct. 97), but still going strong!
How do you promote your work?
Twitter, for sure, helps get extra view counts.
Also, renewing and adding a new piece at least once a day to my Etsy shop. And, finding blog features such as this one, and business cards! They go everywhere with me. I even leave one whenever we go out to eat with the receipt.
What are your favorite Etsy shops?
MsBelle - Her work is amazing and she uses some of the best gems out there!
Bijoux d' Odalisque - Tremendous eye for detailing.
Amanda Khalsa - Each piece of her jewelry is really a little masterpiece of art.
What is your favorite small pleasure?
I love to make s'mores, and I love to get a little pedi and mani now and then.
What are a few of the goals you have for your future and how do you plan on making them a reality?
I want a major retail chain/boutique to pick up my jewelry line. I plan, at some point, to get a PR agent. She is already lined up; it is now just a matter of time and money. I also want my jewelry line to be involved in the fashion world in some way, whether it be on the runway, or an article write-up in Lucky, or on a celebrity on a TV show. I want to be name-worthy. I want someone to say this is a "South Paw Studios" original. So something like that. It may seem farfetched, but I am on my way!
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Well, I guess I couldn't really come up with a certain sentence that changed my life, but I can say that the way I was raised was the best! My parents were very supportive of me as a young, budding artist. I remember being maybe 3 years old or so, holding a bunny wash pad in one hand and trying to duplicate it on the wall in my bedroom with a marker. Now most parents would freak, but mine were very cool about it and glad to see me creating. They NEVER told me I couldn't do something. When it came to being creative, that I wanted to try or do, they always pushed me to do it and supported me. They never told me that you could never make a living through art. My father was a successful glass blower and my mother was very creative with interior design. I feel that the combination of the two, and art just always being a part of my life, was a constant influence to me.
Wow, Katy! What great answers you have! I think they provide so much insight, but also a glimpse of the type of person you are and how much you love your work. Those of you that are reading this should definitely check out her Etsy shop. Her passion definitely shows through her work.
As for my favorite piece in her shop right now, it would have to be her Fire Opal Red, Green, and Canary Yellow Faceted Cubic Zirconia Necklace.
What will be your favorite from South Paw Studios?
Stay tuned for another great feature next Monday!