I feel like I’ve known today’s featured mom for a long time but really we’ve only interacted online. Leah has a wonderful blog and is active on twitter in addition to her handmade jewelry shop. She’s been a sincere and engaging personality and I’m so pleased that our paths have crossed. I decided to showcase her today so that you can get to know her too!
H: How long have you been doing what you do?
L: I’ve been making jewelry since high school, but the techniques I use and my style have both changed significantly over time.
H: What do you like to create?
L: I make jewelry – I’m probably most known for my silver and pearl jewelry but I also work with copper, gold fill, gemstones, resin, found objects, glass, and really anything small and sturdy enough to become part of a piece of jewelry. At the moment I am focused on working with metal and developing my skills in that area. I love drilling, hammering, and using my torch, especially when it results in something beautiful.
H: How did you get started? Are you finding success?
L: As I mentioned before, I’ve been making jewelry for a long time. I started selling my jewelry when it went from being a fun hobby to a very expensive and time consuming hobby.
When I started my business, I had no idea what to expect. I had no business experience and no real plan for how I was going to get sales. That was several years ago, and in that time, I’ve learned a lot about business and marketing. It’s a lot harder to run a jewelry business than it is to make beautiful jewelry, at least for me.
I feel like I’m just starting to become successful. In the last year, I’ve been selling my work fairly consistently at two galleries, and I’ve begun selling on etsy. Online sales are really tough for me, but I’m gradually starting to get more consistent sales as my photographs improve and I get my name out there.
H:Were you creative before you had children?
L: Yes, I’ve always been creative. However, becoming a mom has really cemented in my mind that I want to make my living creatively. I don’t think I took my business quite as seriously before my son was born, because it wasn’t so important to me to be able to stay at home. Now I really want a home-based job so that I can be a full time mom. Not that I get anything done while he’s awake, of course! I’m more productive with the time I do have, but I definitely have less time to work than I used to. I kind of wonder sometimes what I used to do with all my time before I had a baby!
H: Have your methods changed?
L: Absolutely – when I decided I wanted to have a baby, I knew that I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing things that could damage my unborn child. A lot of toxic chemicals are commonly used in making jewelry, but I’ve developed methods of working that avoid almost all of those chemicals. I’m also more careful about ventilation and safety equipment than I used to be. And I have to clean up everything, every single time I use it, because otherwise my son will get into all of my tools and supplies – besides that being dangerous for him, I’d never be able to find anything once he got his hands on it!
H: How do you find time to stay creative?
L: The first few months after my son was born, I really didn’t. I took maternity leave! Gradually, I’ve started finding a few minutes here and there to work on my jewelry, and my parents watch him about once a week so I can have a few uninterrupted hours. First thing in the morning and at night I usually work on my blog and edit photos, which is also creative, but something I can do sitting down without getting all my tools out.
I’ve also learned to work more efficiently – when my husband is home and entertaining our son, I’ll sneak outside and make a whole bunch of head pins, for example, or if the baby is napping, I might make a bunch of earwires. It’s a lot faster to make multiples than just a couple at a time, and that way I have everything I need to finish a piece, rather than having to make everything from scratch when inspiration strikes.
H: Do your kids show any creative spirit?
L: I think so. It’s hard to tell with a baby (he’s not quite a year old as I’m answering these questions) so we haven’t been able to try much in terms of art projects, but he loves music and dancing, and he loves to look at art. My husband is an artist, and our son is obsessed with a set of small abstract paintings he did – he points for me to carry him over to where they are hung and he takes them off the wall to look at them and feel the texture of the paint.
H: What have you learned after having your kids (in relation to your art)
L: One thing I learned is that next time I’m pregnant, I need to be productive and make sure my galleries and my online shop are fully stocked – I had a tough recovery after giving birth, and if that happens again, I want to be prepared for not being able to do much physically for several weeks. Also, I want to be prepared to not really be interested in designing anything in the beginning – I don’t feel creative when I’m tired and distracted, so besides being super busy, those first few months, functioning on little sleep, I just wasn’t interested in making anything. Luckily, as soon as my son started sleeping more at night, my desire to create came back, and now if I have free time, I’m either working on making new things, taking photographs, or trying to catch up on business stuff. I feel really lucky that I’m able to spend the majority of my time doing the two things that are most important to me: being a mom and being a jewelry designer. Sometimes the mom stuff is just more important than the jewelry designer stuff, and that’s how it should be. I have the rest of my life to work on building my business and growing as a designer and artist, but if I’m not around for my son’s childhood I can never get that time back.
Thanks so much for visiting and telling your story Leah! I have a pair of earrings from Leah’s etsy shop and they are among my favorites. Simple pearl drops, great for everyday…or special days too. Plus her stuff is super affordable…you can treat yourself! Go check out her work at http://michon.etsy.com or on her website: http://www.michondesign.com/
And don’t forget to take a peek at her blog too! http://www.michondesign.com/jewelry-blog/