First off, tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m Anne, 28 years old, Architectural Designer by day, Etsian by night. I’ve lived in Massachusetts my entire life, except my college years, which were spent mostly in the frozen tundra of Syracuse, NY. I did manage to escape from the grey and snow to Italy for a semester.
I finally have my own space, which means more room for my bead collection to grow (as well as, unfortunately, my shoe collection). I’ve got an entire room dedicated as studio space where I spend most of my evenings winding down and beading, coming up with new ideas and pieces for FortyfourOranges.
It’s also worth noting that I am such a cliché designer in that I wear mostly black and white, but I’m drawn to bright colors like a moth to light. I love having a really neutral background to allow color in shoes and jewelry to pop out against.
How and when did you start making jewelry and your other items?
I’ve lived a pretty creative life, but not a uniquely creative one. My mother went to school to be an art teacher, but my father is an engineer. Art I’ve always loved art, creating, and designing, but my work has always been grounded in functionality and rationality. This is certainly what led me to the discipline of architecture, but it’s also what has me spending my nights designing and making jewelry instead of painting or drawing.
My first beads were bought for me by my Dad’s baby sister, my favorite aunt, the big sister I never had. I think I was 10 or so when she brought me to a small craft store and helped me fill a caddy with beads. I played with them on and off for a while, mostly making the sort of thing you create at summer camp. I continued playing with them on and off for a few years, then they were pushed aside as I focused on more serious art work during high school and college.
Cut to college graduation. After working on an average of three hours of sleep per night for five years to earn my Bachelors of Architecture, I needed a break. So I did nothing, literally nothing, for a few months. Problem was, I had no money, and I got bored fast. Reenter the beads. I dusted them off and started playing around with them some more. When I earned some money babysitting for my cousin or mowing my parents’ lawn, I bought some more beads. I started giving the results of my boredom to my family and friends. I started working at the end of the summer, but couldn’t give up the beading. For about three and a half years, I kept on buying more beads, making more jewelry, and giving most of it away. Finally, last November, I listed my first item on Etsy. FortyfourOranges was born, and I’m sneaking back towards my old college sleep schedule. That’s what I get for naming my shop after the alma mater that kept me sleepless for all those years.
When and how did you originally find Etsy?
I’ve got lots of friends who’ve been shopping on Etsy for a while, and they were the ones who pressured me into jumping in. I’m definitely thankful, but I can always blame them for my lack of sleep! They know that I’m not the sort of person to go halfway on any sort of commitment, and probably should have foreseen the obsessive levels this would take my beading hobby to.
What is unique about Etsy and what about the website do you like the most in regards to your shop?
Etsy is really well laid out graphically. I really appreciate this as a designer. Most online craft forums are really clunky and cheesy, but Etsy’s aesthetic really sets it apart. Because of this, I think it attracts much more creative and professional designers than other forums. The clean look of Etsy itself also makes you strive to create a more professional look for what you’re filling in, too. It also helps that Etsy has chosen orange as their theme color. FortyfourOranges obviously blends into that format well.
I will say that my favorite part of Esty is the people that I’ve “met” as a result of it. They suggest Twitter as a means of promoting your shop, but I’ve found that it’s really just led me to meet some other really wonderful designers and people. I may be the only person working on FortyfourOranges, but I feel like I’ve got coworkers when I can communicate with other sellers so easily. Most sellers are so willing to help anyone else out in any way they can.
What inspires you the most in regards to your creations?
The beads themselves inspire me. I can just look over what I’ve got and see what I’m struck with at the moment. I’ve also had a few designs manifest themselves through conversations with brides who have a slight idea of what they want, but can’t really communicate it. Talking with them can set off a light bulb in my head and get me right to work on a new design.
What is your favorite piece you’ve created and why?
My favorite piece to make is an oldie, but a popular one, still. I love my vine necklaces. No two can ever be the same, and the color options are completely endless. They’re filled with so many types of beads that it’s really fun to just pull the beads together before even setting to stringing them. I love messy gardens, too (my parents backyard is full of lush, overflowing flower beds with curving edges), and this design reminds me of them. It’s just chock full of whatever flower and leaf beads I can find that coordinate with the color scheme. The beautiful thing about them is that the design itself is not so seasonal; different color schemes in different seasons keeps it fresh all year round.
What do you want to accomplish with your online shop?
Uhhhhh… Hahahaha. I’m not sure, really. I guess I’d just like to keep selling enough to provide me with the funds for more and more beads (and shoes). And I’d love to provide people with jewelry that can brighten their day, be the perfect gift, or be the wonderful finishing touch to someone’s wedding. The happiest part of FortyfourOranges for me is definitely the feedback from customers, especially brides that I’ve done custom work for. If I can make someone raving happy, then it’s a good day for me.
Do you have any new creations in the works? If so, what can shoppers expect to see from you soon?
Right now I’m focusing in on stocking up on some solid regular designs for the holidays (only four months away!) before diving into anything drastically new, but I’m always thinking through new ideas to keep FortyfourOranges fresh. Keep your eyes open for new colors of old items, for sure. I’m also hoping to add some more really chunky, heavy necklaces to my shop which have to this point been a fairly limited edition item, but have sold very well. And when I’m struck with a new design, expect to see lots of colorful versions of it.
Where can readers find out about more information regarding your jewelry and other creations and possible special offers (including additional websites, blogs, facebook, etc)?
I can be followed on Twitter at 44Oranges, though I do a lot more griping about my day job and conversing with fellow Etsians than I do promoting. I do promote new listings and ideas here and there through it, as well as offer occasional promotions and early notice of sales. My shop announcement at FortyfourOranges always has my latest info on happenings, if there be any, as well.