Friday, September 5, 2014

A Platform for Creativity

When I first learned how to add some beads to a wire and turn it into an earring, I was hooked. My aunt had been making beaded jewelry for a while, and I wanted to learn. So she taught me how to do it. It was fairly easy to do, as long as you had the right tools. I remember purchasing beads by the handful - whether they were that great or not. I just wanted to create as many as I could. I would scatter the beads out across the oversized counter of my mom's kitchen, and start making my selections.

My early works were pretty ugly. But at the time, I thought they were beautiful. And while the product of my creation would soon be replaced by better-looking results, it was the process that was clearly extraordinary. The possibilities were endless, and all I had to do was pick a bead and go.

Creating earrings from scratch was an incredibly easy and satisfying hobby. I just needed a lot of counterspace, but I could churn out dozens in one session. I would listen to my favorite Podcast, or watch my favorite TV show while making them, so it was never boring. I just kept going and going. My fingernails were usually trashed by the time I was done, but I didn't care. I was never one for keeping nail polish on for very long, anyway, as I grew up with horses and was always using my hands for something.

I've lost count of how many earrings I've made, but I do know this. Each and every pair I made was one of a kind. I maybe made a duplicate here or there after someone complimented me on a pair that I was wearing, or asked if they could have the same version. But I've only done that a couple of times. Duplicating designs isn't very exciting or rewarding for me. Yes, I could churn out several of the same design in order to have more available for customers, but just like the women wearing them, each one is unique, and brings with it its own personality and life.

But it's not about the earrings, it's what they represent.

My first job was in retail. I was 19 years old, transitioning between freshman and sophomore year of college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I was also making the transition between studying performing arts to studying cinematic arts. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to make a name for myself somehow. Making films sounded like fun, so that's where I was headed. But I was also pretty good with people. One day, when I was strolling through our local mall, I stumbled upon a store that featured western wear from my favorite designer. I walked in and asked for a job, and I've been in customer service ever since.

I'm currently working in the film industry, helping make some of the world's greatest movies. It's a dream come true. But there's a part of me that loves creating things that I can share with an audience. I crave customer interaction, and by creating and selling my earrings, I can still satisfy that need.

Over the past few years, I've creating more and more earrings. I opened up an etsy shop called The Daily Pair: Earrings for Every Occasion, where I feature my one-of-a-kind designs. I have to admit, I haven't done a whole lot in the way of marketing or promoting my work online. It sole purpose has been a place where I can send interested prospects, but I have yet to take full advantage of what the online portal has to offer.

I've also sold in a handful of craft fairs that are sponsored by the studio where I work. They've provided an excellent opportunity to test out displays, pricing, accepting different forms of payment, sales, and more. It's given my work excellent exposure. Because of selling them to colleagues during the craft fairs, it's no longer surprising to me when I see at least one other person wearing one of my pairs on a daily basis. It's exhilarating! And it encourages me to keep on creating.

The earrings represent the act of creation. Of seeing what ingredients I have to work with, and making something from scratch. It's seeing all the possibilities, and going with my gut. Choosing based on texture, design, color, and size allows me to think outside the box. And it's one of the hobbies that I've taken up, that I've actually kept up. A lot of things I claim to do, and then I taper off after 5 minutes. Earrings provide a different experience for me. I don't know what it is, but I can't help but make them, and make lots of them.

So, through this process of making, selling, promoting, wearing, and sharing, I've learned so much about myself, as well as what it takes to run a creative business. If it weren't for these earrings, I would never have opened an etsy shop, read books about selling crafts, learned about pricing products, marketing, and more. But the exciting part is, I'm still learning on a daily basis. There is so much more to learn and gain from this experience. I want to learn how to take better product photos, how to do stop-motion promotional videos, how to create using more raw or recycled materials, how to curate what I share through my blog and my social media apps. Creating earrings is a platform for so many other experiences.

Even though there are several other interests and skills that make me who I am, using earrings (and all that encompass them) as the focus for my online exposure, I feel like I'll actually be able to express more of what makes me, me. I'm thrilled to try this out, and share with you, my audience, my experiences, challenges, ideas, lessons, and skills, in hopes to inspire you. It certainly inspires me.