Original publish date: 11/02/2009
I had the honor of being Artfire's Featured Artisan and thought I would share the interview here:
My jewelry is a very important part of my life. Itâ€™s my business, itâ€™s my creative release, and itâ€™s my enjoyment. I am very lucky to have a business that I genuinely love, all the time. I am constantly thinking about new designs, looking for new selling venues.
What role does your family play in your art?
My family is so wonderfully supportive of me and my business. I'm very lucky to have my family and my boyfriend helping to push me to take my business to the next level. They help me at shows; and they are always promoting my work. Having their support behind me at all times makes me very proud
Where do you live and what is it like?
I live in Enola, Pennsylvania, a small town outside Harrisburg. Itâ€™s a beautiful area along the Susquehanna River, surrounded by mountains. Enola is a great town, full of my family and friends. One of the best things about this area is the fact that itâ€™s close to everything: 1.5 hour to Philly, 1.5 hour to Baltimore, and 2 hours to Washington DC.
If there is a new craft you could learn, what would it be and why?
I've always been very artistic; there are so many crafts I'd love to try. Most of all, I'd love to learn metalsmithing and how to set faceted gemstones. That's a future goal that I think will add a new vision to BellaSweet. Just wait, I'll be doing it soon!
What are your goals with your ArtFire studio?
I'd love to be successful, not only with sales but with helping other Indie ArtFire artists. Obviously, consistent sales would be nice because I love sharing my jewelry with the world. Itâ€™s such a great feeling to see people enjoying your designs.
Where do you receive your inspiration, in general?
Everywhere! I'll walk into a bead show, see a strand of amethysts and instantly have a vision of a necklace. I take inspiration from nature, choosing blue topaz to match the sea or pairing deep orange crystals with lava rock to represent hot lava.
How did you come to selling crafts?
I started selling handcrafted soaps & toiletries through my business, Sudsy Sarah Soaps, over 6 years ago. I began making jewelry as a small hobby and as a creative release. Soon, I had people asking if I sold the jewelry, and I started adding it to my soap booths at local shows. Very quickly, my small hobby turned into a second business. I'm almost afraid to start any new hobbies in fear they'll evolve into more :)
What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?
Be true to yourself. If you're not happy with your product or with your business, then change it until you are. You have to be 100% behind your artwork. Offer the best customer service you can, you can't have a business without customers. When I started making jewelry, I knew I wanted to make one-of-a-kind pieces, never to be duplicated again. I've stayed true to that. Love your art, embrace your creativity and be proud to share it with the world.
What is the most treasured thing in your craft stash?
Oh wow, everything! It honestly hurts to use (and later sell) some of my more pricey gemstones. They're so precious to me, I love to look at them and watch them sparkle. I really put my heart into each piece I create, maybe I should make customers sign an agreement to take care of their Bella-Sweet Jewelry and love them like I do!
If you won a thousand dollar craft shopping spree, what would you spend it on?
Gemstones of course! I'd buy strands of sapphires, apatite, druzy quartz, and tourmalines. Of course Iâ€™d get lots of pearls, I love pearls.
Why do you think that buying and selling handmade products benefits society?
When someone buys a handmade product, they're doing much more than simply making a purchase. They're supporting the "little guy" in a world of mass production and supporting traditional arts and crafts techniques that have passed down through generations. Handmade goods have personality and are made with love; people who purchase them are expressing their love for high quality artwork.