First off, tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m Leah R. Hood. I’m a 30 year old social worker with a love for people…and all things creative. I’ve been dabbling in all kinds of arts and crafts for as long as I can remember. I’m married to a wonderful man of almost 1 year who is my greatest friend and support. I have a nearly 8 year old chocolate lab, Bailey, who was the first love of my life; now she has to share that spot.
How and when did you start making jewelry and your other items?
I think I started making jewelry in 7th or 8th grade. It’s hard to remember exactly when because I’ve been doing it for so long. It was just a hobby for personal use and gift giving for a long time. About 6-7 years ago I began pursuing it more in depth. I am primarily self-taught in wirework and beaded designs. I have taken several metalsmithing courses at community art centers several years ago where I was able to develop skills and a love for working with sterling silver, brass and copper metals. I am a recent DYI bride, I love weddings, and I am branching out into hair combs and other jewelry/wedding related accessories.
When and how did you originally find Etsy?
A friend told me about Etsy and encouraged me to sell my jewelry through the online market there a few years ago. At the time, I was unable to devote the time and energy it would take to build a successful online shop, although I had considered often. My life has evolved and I now have found the time, and started selling my work in March of this year (2010).
What is unique about Etsy and what about the website do you like the most in regards to your shop?
Etsy allows handcraft artists to reach a global audience, form relationships with other artists locally and globally, and minimize the upfront costs of store ownership. I’ve looked at other avenues for selling online and they just don’t compare. Etsy has the reputation and following to help make a business successful, versus starting from scratch. I have enjoyed how easy it is to “set-up shop” and advertise with the showcases slots. I also enjoy reaching and selling to customers from different states. It’s fun for me knowing that someone in Florida, Minnesota or California is wearing one of my designs today.
What inspires you the most in regards to your creations?
Put some beads, wire, metal and tools in my hands and I’m creating. I find inspiration in the materials themselves. I find it interesting to gather up items and then just let the creativity flow. 95% of the time, I have a design I am happy with…the other 5% get re-worked or scrapped. I also love custom work. I like to make pieces to match a particular outfit or theme. I LOVE weddings and designing looks for brides and their bridesmaids.
What is your favorite piece you’ve created and why?
I have an asymmetrical necklace that is about 36 inches long made out of sterling chain, wooden beads, square turquoise beads, crystals, round abalone shell beads, bali beads and smoky quartz. I kept it for myself (something I seldom do) and I wear it about 2xW. I find I can make it coordinate with just about anything. I love the eclectic look of it and the combination of the different materials. I gets tons of compliments on it and I’ve taken custom orders for similar for people I know after they’ve seen me wearing it.
What do you want to accomplish with your online shop?
I’d like to see my business grow into at least a profitable part-time job with-in the next 2 years. I’m hoping that children are in our future and I start graduate school this fall for a M.A. in Counseling. Being able to work from home with infant/young children while in school would be ideal.
Something unique about my store and business is that I know am running Online Jewelry Parties. The concept is very similar to an in-home jewelry party, except the hostess invites her friends via e-mail to participate in a week long party at my online store. Participants and the hostess get special incentives for participating that are not available to the general public. Anyone interested in “hosting” a party can contact me for further details or find information on my Facebook fanpage under the discussion tab.
Do you have any new creations in the works? If so, what can shoppers expect to see from you soon?
I am constantly working on new items and post several times a week. I’d like to get back to more metal work but I am limited in my tools at home to basic non-soldering items. Shoppers should come back frequently to see all kinds of work; beaded, wire worked & metalwork designs. I am trying to be very conscious of the seasons as I create and have a wide variety of colors and items to fit almost everyone’s taste or style.
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 currently have a fanpage on facebook and a blog I just started!
I do run specials at my ETSY shop and will post details in my shop announcements. The direct link for my store is: leahrhood.etsy.com