It’s no secret that I love Etsy. It’s fast becoming my favourite place to create mood boards (like Pinterest but with things I can actually afford) and exploring other creative talents that are out there.
I ended up having a chat with Rhi from Rhinestone and Pearl a few weeks ago. Her jewellery is fantastic and I am in love with how she documents it in her shop. I am absolutely smitten with these earrings!
After getting to know Rhi a little bit, I was super excited to find out more about her creative process. It’s one thing to see the end product, it’s another to understand what goes into it.
I am so excited to have Rhi from Rhinestone and Pearl with us today. I first came across Rhi on Etsy. Rhinestone and Pearl is a wonderful store. I loved that when I visited her shop, I was met by beautiful photographs and rich colours. Absolutely stunning and definitely not your average handmade jewellery. I was really happy when Rhi decided to pop on over to The Lemon Hive and talk about her jewellery and her creativity.
Over to you Rhi!
I’ve loved sparkly jewelry for as long as I can remember. My Gran always wore rhinestone brooches and I remember looking at them and thinking that they were so pretty. She would let me wear one sometimes when we went out for dinner and I felt so special and grown up. Now, 40 years later, I get to play with rhinestones every day, and they always remind me of her. As for the pearls……well, who doesn’t love a strand of pearls? They go with everything! I have 12 pearl necklaces. Some handmade, some store bought, but all beautiful.
Growing up with a passion for jewellery and sparkly pieces fed your desire to start making it, but it can be really daunting when you decide to sell it and at the same time open yourself up to the public. When did you decide that your products were good enough to sell?
Actually, some days I still wonder if my hand made pieces are good enough. I second guess myself a lot. I can’t even count how many times I’ve finished a piece and then torn it apart and started all over again because I didn’t think it was good enough.
I’ve been making jewelry for about 20 years, but only selling it for about 10. My style has changed over the years (and improved a lot). I’ve finally settled on a style that I love, and enjoy making and offering to my customers.
After 10 years of selling you’ve surely found a rhythm for producing and selling. What does your average week/day look like?
My day usually starts at around 5AM. I read through the Etsy forums while I drink coffee and fully wake up, or process overnight orders to ship out. Sometimes I wake up with a new design idea rolling around in my head. On those days, I get started on creating right away. Some days my creative muse decides to sleep in. When that happens, I work on the shop- listing new items, processing photos, working on titles/tags/SEO, promoting (all the not-so-fun behind the scenes things). The shop takes up the majority of my time. I spend a few hours with the hubby in the evening, then fall asleep in my recliner. That’s my schedule just about every day.
What happens when your creative muse sleeps in, how do you wake it up and keep it fresh? Have you always been a creative person?
I have always been creative. I joke that I have crafting A.D.D. I’ve done so many different creative and/or crafty things, but none of them made me as happy as the jewelry…..well, maybe cooking and baking. I do regret that I wasn’t able to learn to sew. My Mom is amazing at sewing! She used to make almost all of my clothes when I was little, and my dolls always had matching dresses. She did try to teach me, but after the sewing machine needle went through my thumb, that was it for me.
This might sound strange, but to keep my creativity fresh, I buy new beads and rhinestones. I look at them and get ideas on how to put them together to make something pretty. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Absorbing yourself in creativity and trying new things is all part of the experience. It can take a while to find your creative footing, so what advice would you give to someone that wants to start out on Etsy or wants to start enhancing their creativity and crafting skills
Learn as much as you can to improve your craft. The Etsy forums contain a wealth of information, youtube has videos on making all sorts of things, Google is your friend! If you don’t know something, ask. There is bound to be someone who knows the answer. I learn something new just about every day. The talent on Etsy is AMAZING!
After someone has tried a new skill and thinks ‘yeah, this is the one for me’, what’s the next step? Where would you find the confidence to put yourself out there?
You’ll never know until you try. Start small and work your way up. You don’t have to have 50 or 100 items to open a shop. I’ve seen shops with only 1 or 2 items that can be remade and sold over and over again. Every single Etsy shop was a “newbie” at one time. The ones that are still around 6 or 7 years later put in the work and time to make their shops a success. Each small victory gives you more confidence. I still do a little happy dance with every sale!
It’s such a rush to have a new sale, I still get butterflies and wonder whether it’ll be good enough for the client and, you’re right, every sale is a small victory. Like you said, a successful small business is a slow process, what would you say is key to starting your own small creative business?
The ability to function on little to no sleep, being able to keep going when you just want to quit, tenacity, determination, drive, hunger……see the theme here? You have to WANT to succeed, or you won’t. Having a supportive partner/spouse/family is very important too, because you are going to spend a LOT of time on this venture. It’s not something you can just put on auto-pilot, then expect to rake in the cash. Running a small business is a lot of work.
If you were starting over again, would you do anything differently? If so, why would you change it?
Oh gosh yes!!! I would learn so many more things before starting. I’d learn more about SEO, promoting, social media, get a better camera, and start working with rhinestones a lot sooner. I’d also take metalsmithing classes. That’s my next goal! I want to make gemstone rings and work with metals.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from the items I work with- the rhinestones, pearls and beads. I can look at them and get ideas for color combinations or designs. Recently, the inspiration came from a custom order from one of my lovely customers. She had bought a few of my bracelets and asked me to do a certain color combination for her. She left the design up to me. It turned out so well that I started a new line from that bracelet.
Where would you advise people to go to find their inspiration and why?
I think inspiration comes from a different place for everyone, so I would just say to look around you and think of the things that make you happy. Maybe it’s the medium you work with, or nature, or music, or your family, or any number of things. I can’t speak for anyone but myself.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My family. They cheer me on and constantly have to put up with me asking if a piece looks ok, they help me haul everything to shows and stick around to keep me company. The kids have also been known to do a bit of promoting for me, since I’m not as good at the social media thing as they are.
What is the best source for promoting your handmade products?
I don’t know if it’s the best, but I use business cards and I tweet new items. My daugher in law wears the jewelry I’ve made for her and hands out business cards when people ask about it.
Small business ownership seems like a whole heap of hard work, but there must be an upside, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it. So, what is the best part about owning your own handmade business?
That it’s all mine! If I want to work at 2 in the morning, in my pyjamas, listening to 80’s hair band music, I can. Try that at an office job *grin*.
I can totally relate to dancing around the office at 2am listening to music! Is that just me?!
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