Monday, January 19, 2015

Flourish & Thrive Academy Laying the Foundation

Where to begin?! This is often how I feel after the holidays as a jewelry designer.  Most people I know that are not jewelers think January and February is a time for me to sit, design, goof around, and, you know, play with glamorous, expensive, shiny things.  I did not even have a clue as a former buyer what kind of special stress level goes into these months for artists and designers hoping to receive wholesale orders.  This year I decided to take a step back and reevaluate my 3 and 5 year plans.  
So you may ask-Why is she even talking about this then? For a chance at a scholarship that would provide me and my business mentorship and a step-neh-a rock climber's jump up to the next level. A wonderful group, Flourish and Thrive Academy, is offering two select people slots into the Laying the Foundation Course. One of the actions requested of each applicant is to post a blog answering a few questions.  
The main objectives: be creative and honest (well, and answer all of the questions).  I have read and watched many of the submissions from the talented and deserving fellow jewelers and I know I have some stiff competition.  But just like everything in our industry you gotta work for it.  

Now I could explain how I used to be a lead buyer for a small nonprofit company in South Korea that would travel to five other countries and work with another by phone.  That I handled several million dollars in inventory crossing from tea and ceramics to furniture and rugs all the way to jewelry (in fact this is how I was first really exposed to jewelry design and manufacturing).  I could go into further discussion on how, if I wanted to keep my job and be successful, I was forced to step outside of any sign of a comfort zone of what they taught me in college and work to be thrown into figuring out custom agents and laws for 7 different countries, cultural differences and language barriers, demographics, political upheaval, dealing with all sorts of weather to place orders in the middle of no where to some of the largest cities in the world. And how, like several of my jobs, I had to leave this job behind as we were given orders for a new home.  Yeah, so I kind of did tell you a little bit.  Anyway, this example of one of the jobs I held before I finally was able to save enough to go back to school at the New Approach School for Jewelers and at Corcoran College of Art & Design is to show that I take what I love doing and run with it.  No matter what obstacles are in my way I will learn and take in as much as possible from each situation.  This is how I found jewelry design and creation.  

Now entering my third year of my business I feel I am in need of assistance in taking SMS Jewelry Designs to a whole new stage.  I went through my first wholesale show last year and now know what to expect for next year (even received some orders as a newbie!).  We have worked numerous outside and indoor shows (thank goodness for cocoa and coffee), have been involved in and received honors such as New York Small Boutique Fashion Week, RAW awards finalist, Austin Fashion Week selected accessories designer for several years in a row, and have participated in about a dozen runway shows and even some photo shoots as a selected accessories designer.  I can see my goals, but now I need help reaching them.

I have always envisioned SMS Jewelry Designs in boutiques and department stores, maybe even some big runways occasionally, across the United States and even in Canada-I know, not big dreams at all, right.  But I was taught to go all the way with your dreams.  I need help making my business look professional above just the beginners level.  Through the shows I have participated in I have encountered many designers that were where I am now and every single one of them has said find a mentor that can advise you on who to trust and how to reach goals that you have only doodled about in your diary.  

While he is my biggest supporter, my husband also believes it is his fault that the business and my career have been more expensive and have taken longer than we had hoped. The military lifestyle and the constant moving does tend to put a wrench into business plans, connections, and even funds.  What takes some constant reminding is that without his career mine would have never gotten this far.  He has been the one taking our savings and encouraging me to pursue a career in what I love for our future.  This is also why this course would be so helpful and amazing.  We need help gaining the "cash, clarity, and freedom" I so deeply want for me, my business, and my art. 

After sharing my hopes and dreams, how else can I prove that I am creative and unique enough for such an amazing opportunity?  One of my best models (well, at least for today with special treats) showing off my jewelry. Take it away, Fievel!
Thank you for your time and for the chance to apply to this wonderful program!

If you are a jeweler and have not checked out Flourish & Thrive Academy yet you should!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Catalogs, Displays, Lights, Oh My! It's BMAC Time!

SMS Jewelry Designs' first wholesale show! We practiced and planned for about a year for this exact show (the Buyer's Market of American Craft in Philadelphia) and we did it! Super excited, running on relatively no sleep and a ton of coffee, we were organized, shipped, and packed all things needed for the show.  For those that wanted to see a small glimpse into our BMAC journey the following photos should give a fun view.  
Postcards being tagged, addressed, and mailed

My two boys packing us up

Exhausted and waiting for the catalogs to be printed

Putting together displays and tables for practice

SMS Jewelry Designs' booth's before photo

SMS Jewelry Designs all set up and ready to sell!

Everything took forever, but went by so fast.  After thousands of dollars, countless hours, tears, laughs, and so many other crazy emotions we made it through our first wholesale show.  SMS Jewelry Designs is now being sold in several states and in negotiations with a few other stores still.  We have a long way to go, but are having a great start and enjoying the ride!  Now we move on to the next show (Austin Fashion Week), wholesale orders to finish, and custom orders (several engagement rings, fabricating rings and pendants from metal, and so much more)!

Interested in your own custom SMS Jewelry Designs piece?  Email us

Friday, January 3, 2014

My New Years Resolution Is....

At the beginning of every year I see my friends post their resolutions, but most of us just never get around or find it possible to accomplish these set goals.  This then puts a lot of pressure and feelings of inadequacy on ourselves when we should really just be enjoying "the ride of life." 

So this year I decided to make a resolution against resolutions.  I decided to look back at 2013 on what I did accomplish and how far I have come instead of the negatives and the unfinished items in my list.  

Looking at our first show to the very last one we had this year it is amazing the difference in even in our booth setup!

Yoga Pop Up Shop December 2012
RAWawards 2013 (accessories semifinalists-YEAH!!)

I finally found and setup a studio all to myself (no more sharing with the laundry room and cat boxes!).

SMS Jewelry Designs was selected as a top accessory designer for Austin Fashion Week this year, showcased at Langford Market, and had our first big interview with CW Austin.

Erica-Lynn Holley modeling SMS Jewelry Designs
and Langford Market clothing

Selling some fun jewelry

Interview with CW Austin

Participated in many different shows, rocked the runway, was awarded a few cool new titles, 
and had a lot of fun!

Made some really neat custom pieces for some great customers

We decided life was more fun with more animals

And with friends and family, of course!

When looking back through photos and shows it is amazing how far SMS Jewelry Designs has come and how many wonderful, talented people we have worked with and become our friends.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us through everything, been incredible friends, and cheers to an even more great year!

Monday, April 1, 2013

No-this is not an April Fools joke, I really wrote on my blog

So I have already broken my New Year's Resolution and missed writing a blog for March.  But we have been busy at SMS Jewelry Designs this past month so I think we should be allowed a pass.  We have been selected as one of the designers/artists to display at RAW:Austin Marvel.  If you want to see the profile click on this link (you can also purchase tickets on this page in support of SMS Jewelry Designs and/or to attend the amazing event on April 18th):

It is going to be a long day on April 18th, but we are really excited.  Exhibitors show up at The Belmont at 3pm to begin setting up and doors open for public at 7:30pm which is when the live music, videos, visual artists, and entertainers begin as well.  The runway show begins around 10:30pm (SMS Jewelry Designs has been asked to dress 10 models with our jewelry for Elyshet Clothing Designs).  Everything closes down around 1am.  So it is going to be an amazing day!

SMS Jewelry Designs has also been selected as a top accessories designer for Austin Fashion Week so we will be one of the eight selected designers displaying at the Retail Showcase Designers.  To see our profile for the Retail Showcase Designers this link will take you there:
We also are on a Mash Up Team (which is a team of designers/artists put together, in less than a week in regards with my team, randomly mashed up together to produce a photo of our items on a model that will be voted on and walked down the runway).  Starting April 19th our photo will be released to the public online to be voted on and decided which image is the best out of all of the Mash Up Team.  Then on May 11th our look will walk down the runway on our beautiful model.  So it is looking like May is going to be one busy month as well. 

During the month of March we also displayed and sold our jewelry work at Up Collective during SXSW (South By Southwest) and have been working on a few other retail locations.  SMS Jewelry Designs is now for sale also at Sanctuary in Austin, Texas (our first Austin store selling our items-yeah!!). 

This month we may more links and no photos actually posted, but we hope you enjoy this blog still and are able to attend some of the events we are attending!  Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Finally Started This New Year's Resolution!

Each week I say to myself "This is going to be the week I will carve time out to blog!"  Then each week goes by with no new post.  I feel bad for not keeping up, but at the same time I would rather be behind my bench than spend more time in front of my computer screen.  Most artists and jewelers sympathize with me on this.  Anyway, enough of the whining because it is better late than never that I typing a new post for this new year!

 Us loading up the car the night before
 My husband being cheerful and manning the booth during the rainy day

We at SMS Jewelry Designs (which the 'We' consists currently of my husband, me, and my cats when they want to hide, destroy, or sit on my work) have already been super busy for this year.  We have set up a booth on the famous South Congress Street on one rainy Saturday and are planning to be there several more times during South by Southwest (or as everyone in Austin and any music fans know it as SXSW).  We are discussing with several stores about consignment and wholesale options.  We are even planning to possibly exhibit at next year's BMAC Wholesale Trade Show in Philly!  On the way up our own business hill we know we will have to do plenty more rainy outdoor booth days in combination with other smaller events, but this is the exciting part of developing the work to be at its prime, final stage for PA.   
While challenges have already occurred and we have become flustered and overwhelmed, we are still moving forward in hopes we will be seeing SMS Jewelry Designs some day in stores and magazines (ok, well that may be shooting for the stars, but if we are going to aim we are going to go all the way!).  We are going to keep this momentum going and continue to share all of it with you followers along with way!
Saturday, September 29, 2012

A to Z

It has been awhile since I have had an opportunity to post on my blog.  Life just gets away from you and I feel like all I do lately is play catchup.  What I have been working on only is my new collection and the photo shoot I will be having for my lookbook on October 13th.
As some of you have heard me talk about, my "mother piece" was finally completed.  This piece was something I designed almost three years ago.  I knew I wanted to do something with the sketch as soon as I was finished with it, but did not have the resources or training to pull something like this off yet.  So I waited and kept redrawing the idea so as soon as I did have the skills I would know what I wanted. 
After completing bench jeweler school and saving some funds I got the go ahead from my husband to use the money for my 'experiment.'   I had already finished the research on who I wanted to do the CAD design (the 3D imaging to produce a wax and cast) so I sent in my sketch with measurements (as you can see below) to them.  After several weeks of going back and forth, changing a few touches and measurements, I confirmed the design.  My caster went to work then and produced the 3D image, molds, and casts in less than two weeks.  

I received the molds and casts and was so excited I barely knew how to begin putting pieces together and setting the gemstones and diamonds.  My mind went into overdrive.  Many that know my work know that I do have things cast, but that each piece is then handcrafted by me into a special, one-of-a-kind.  Once all of my pieces for the pendant arrived I had already received the diamonds and gemstones and knew exactly what I wanted to set.  I had a plan, but realized the piece looked better switched around.  I thought this was no issue so continued on with my plans, incorporating the changes. 
My problem was I had jumped ahead and forgot the important lesson to remember each step and what problems I may encounter during the process.  I set the burnt orange diamonds, but then realized right after that my vendor strongly suggested never applying heat to the diamonds since they would loose the heat treatment possibly.  Something that is very common sense, but I had jumped ahead.  I researched and called around to see what options I had.  I could destroy the 14k yellow gold setting and remove the diamonds or I could risk the diamonds and apply the heat (I was even told laser welding was a risk).  After many attempts for many days with safer strategies that ended in bigger messes I finally went for the original, more risky plan.  The diamonds were fine, but other parts were ruined in the process and many lessons were learned.  I had also switched where I wanted to set the greenish blue tourmaline, which I had thought would be no problem.  Because the setting was  going to be below and in the center of the entire piece I thought it would be an easy solder and easy setting (again, got ahead of myself).  Many burnings and angry words later I realized it was never that easy. 
More lessons learned.  My objective was to have this main piece ready by my 30th birthday, as a present and goal to reach for my 30th birthday.  Two days before I actually reached it and the piece turned out just like I had hoped.  After I had time to relax and take a breather I realized the wonderful things I had learned and experiences gained from this piece.  Yes, I had spent a bunch of time and money on this one item and was taking a bunch of risks, but I had learned new processes and a better understanding that you just do not gain from class, only from experience.   
I am not 13 days  away from the photo shoot and gunning to get everything finished and perfected for the catalog.  This huge step towards my future with my first piece was a hurdle that I am so happy to have completed.  I am very excited to share this with you all and hope you are as happy with as I am.  Thank you!! 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lost and Found

Lost and Found

Many would agree with me that when starting your own business there is a feeling of excitement and liberation.  After those pass the next are followed with the sudden pangs of being lost and a little scared.  For those of us that gave up other career paths, spent money on tools, schooling, and numerous other expenses the moments of panic are definitely there.  "Did I make the right choice?," "Am I good enough or talented enough to be successful?," and/or "Should I maybe go back to my old job/field?" begin to surface which gives more doubt to the decisions you made.  With the current economy and unemployment rates the way they have been it is very easy to get boggled down with the feelings of insecurity and apprehension when switching to an industry as volatile as jewelry design/creation.

This last month I have gone through all of these emotions and then some with the decision I made of investing almost all of my money and time into this new career path.  What seemed like a good idea, since I was so happy and enjoying what I did as a jeweler, was suddenly seeming like the worst decision I could have made.  The lack of available jobs and the very scary prospect of not being able to break my line into the market crashed down on me.

Thankfully I have an amazing husband and some very encouraging friends that talk some sense into me when I start to think those thoughts.  Don't get me wrong-they know and I know that all of those questions and feelings are certainly real.  The important move they make for me is they do not allow me to get caught up in those questions and feelings, but to push past it all with assurance and reinforcements.       

After assessing and evaluating all of these things with them I realized the fear pushes me forward because I do not want to go backwards.  I do not want to go back to my previous career because it is really not an option anymore in my life and I absolutely do not want to be doing some menial desk job just to have a job and a paycheck.  I have been given the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do as my actual profession and I am not going to worry this positive chance away.  When I really felt lost was when I had to take jobs that I did not enjoy.  I have been given the fortuity that many wish for and have found what I truly appreciate doing with my life.  When I have those moments of feeling lost I can remind myself that I am in no way lost since I found my passion in my new profession.   

                                                                   My bench at work
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