Featured Artist: Erin – Alle05

Our today’s featured artist is Erin alias Alle05! Her interview is very inspiring. Let’s get to know her better and let yourself be inspired!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
What is your background? 
My name is Erin, and I grew up in southern Connecticut. After going to college in Maine and working in Boston for a few years, I moved to southern NH. I live there now with my fiancée and our 18 month old cocker spaniel, Cody. For my full-time job, I work for a non-profit organization in Manchester, so I end up using my crafting to de-stress and relax when things are crazy. I don’t really have any formal training in jewelry-making, with the exception of a wire-working class that I just finished this week at the Currier Museum of Art. I always loved playing with crafty things when I was a kid- I would visit craft stores and flip through books about making jewelry, and then go home and try to recreate the projects.
Right now, I’m mostly focusing on beaded jewelry, strung on wire or silk thread, and I’m going to start adding some wire-worked pieces once I have some techniques a little more fine-tuned. My work varies from bold statement pieces to subtle or simple ones, but everything I make is something I’d love to wear myself. I’ve actually finished making something and then decided I love it too much to sell! I usually remake the piece for my shop and keep the original for me to wear.That gives me the chance to become a walking advertisement for my own jewelry, which is good!
My background fits with my brand image because both are slightly haphazard and whimsical. I do whatever I feel like doing at the time, and there isn’t much rhyme or reason to it.
What hobbies or interests do you have?  What interests and activities do you enjoy outside of your niche?
Beyond making jewelry, I love spending time with my dog Cody- he’s still really young and likes to run and play I also play the piano (I took lessons all through grade school starting at age 6), muck around with sewing, and love camping, hiking, snowshoeing, and generally being outside. My fiancée and I are house hunting, so that takes a lot of time, and I’m also going for my Masters in Organizational Leadership. I’m hoping to continue my career in non-profits since I really feel like I’m making a difference for people, though I’d love to be able to quit my day job and make jewelry full-time!
Is there a specific design style that you really like?  Do you prefer modern, futuristic, minimalist, or some other design style? How does the style you prefer compare to the style preferred by your audience?
Does all the above count as an answer?  Probably not J.  I tend to like more classic styles, with lots of pearls and gemstone beads.  This is an example of one of my favourite pieces, even though it’s very simple: 
Look at me!
I also love what a friend of mine has dubbed my “floating” necklaces, like this: 
Look at me!
At a quick look, the beads appear to be floating around the collarbone instead of strung onto the chain, and I like the effect that makes.
The audience for a seller on Etsy is so vast that it’s nearly impossible to try and figure out what they are looking for.  Instead, I’ve taken the approach of making what I love, and if someone else loves it too, then maybe they’ll buy it.
What drives you? 
I absolutely love the creative process behind making jewelry- it’s very cathartic for me to sit at a table in a bright room and look at my beads, putting together combinations and coming up with designs. I use it as a stress relief activity, or a way to procrastinate other things! For me, I don’t really need to work up motivation to make things.  Where I have trouble is after I make a piece, I have to photograph it, edit the photos, come up with a good title and description, figure out a fair price, etc. That stuff I’m not great at getting to, so I have a little pile of jewelry sitting by my photo tent waiting to be added to my site! If I could find a way to motivate myself to do that more often, I think I’d have more success.
Why did you choose your career / niche / topic / market? 
I don’t remember ever choosing jewelry or beading- it just happened!  I love jewelry, and I think one day I looked at a necklace I really liked and thought, “I could probably make that.”  Once you try and get into it, it’s impossible to stop.  When I started selling on Etsy and thought about building a brand for the first time, I took a step back and tried to look at my own work from a different perspective.  I knew that trying to create a brand image in my head and then conform to it would take me away from the things that I love, so instead I looked at what I enjoyed doing and came up with a style of photography, a customer service strategy, and social networking ideas.  Hopefully it’s been working, since it’s really tough to take an outsider’s perspective on your own efforts!
What are your goals?  
My pipe dream would be to make a living out of making jewelry, but I don’t know if I have what it takes to be entirely self-employed.  When my fiancée and I find our house, I’m planning to claim one room as my workroom and set up permanent beading, wire working, sewing, and photography stations to make the process easier and less time consuming.  I don’t intend to stop selling my work, and I am also hoping that all my efforts to get my name out there and improve my Etsy site will bring in more business in the coming years.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Let’s see… I’ll be married, living in a house that I own, and probably still making jewelry.  My styles change based on mood and season, so I would bet that my style will also change as I get older.  It’ll be interesting to see how that happens, and wheher or not I turn into my mother!  🙂
Tell us a bit  about your shop:
How do you describe what you do and why are you doing what you do? 

I make jewelry because I love to, and I sell my pieces on Etsy because I could not possibly wear them all myself! 

What difference do you want to make in this field?

Oooh, tough question.  I suppose one difference I’d like to make is take the really competitive jewelry category on Etsy and make it more of a community.  Sure, we’re all competing for business, but we could benefit enormously from sharing, communicating, and helping each other!  I’m not saying all jewelry sellers on Etsy are cutthroat businesspeople, but there’s definitely some tension between the sellers.  I’d love to take the warm, community feel of some other parts of Etsy and bring that into the jewelry side.
Describe your ideal customer & the world they inhabit..
I honestly don’t think I can pin down the age or life of my customer, since they already vary drastically.  Most of them have been women (I think), but I’ve also had men buy things as gifts for someone else.  My jewelry has been worn by 8-year-olds, 25-year-olds, and 57-year-olds, all from different walks of life.  That’s one of the reasons I like my shop and that my style changes so much- there are lots of options and hopefully anyone would be able to find something in my shop that they would wear.
What do you want to be known for in your business?
Being friendly, having great communication and customer service, and going the extra mile to make sure my customers are satisfied.
What 5 words best describes your aesthetic:
  • Whimsical
  • Classic
  • Versatile
  • Unique
  • Bold
What is about your shop that is unique? What makes your shop different?
Lots of my jewelry can be worn for almost any occasion.  That’s the type of jewelry I always look for myself, so it’s also the kind that I make.  I don’t like making things that only work with one color outfit, or only work for going out- it’s much more economical to be able to wear the same necklace to work, at home, and out to dinner.
What’s your story & why should I buy from you? 
While a “rags to riches” story might be more heart-warming, but this is mine: I love making jewelry, and I love sharing my jewelry with other people.  If no one wants my jewelry, I’ll still be here making it because it’s fun.  I’m not in this for profit, I’m in this for the creativity.  If that appeals to you, then I’d love for you to visit my shop J .  You can find me at www.Alle05.etsy.com.
What event or need causes them to search for what you offer? Which problem do you solve?
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure why my customers start their search for jewelry and end up in my shop.  I’ve made jewelry for weddings, and to be gifts around the holidays, but I think the rest of my customers might be looking for just a little something special that they can treat themselves with.  My jewelry is accessible and affordable, so I think my customers look to it as a little gift to themselves.
What is your message?
I would love for my customers to feel the same lightheartedness and happiness that I do when I sit down at my worktable and start creating.  Jewelry is far from a necessary thing in life, but it makes me happy.  I want it to make other people happy too.

March 8, 2011

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