First off, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Well, I’m the happy owner of The Big Blue Bead and Greenleaf Pick Company on Etsy. I’m the product of living on two coasts. I spent my childhood in Bethesda, MD, just outside of Washington, D.C. and my teens in San Diego, CA. After college my husband and I stayed in Northern California for the trees and seasons. I figure it’s as close to Maryland as I can get in California without the bugs and humidity. I worked for years in different industries (hotels, retail, non-profits, and merchandising) and then started my own business when my kids were little so that I could be at home with them. My family is incredibly patient and tolerant since I haven’t a workshop to hide in and I do all of my work (beading and hammering) inside the house. Either that or they’ve just learned to tune it out. They do go through a lot of headphones, come to think of it.
How and when did you start making jewelry and your other items?
I’ve always been a lover of sparkly things. Being an April baby with diamond as a birthstone, I think it was a given from the start. When I was eight years-old, my mom gave me the beading kit that started it all. I moved from seed beads on elastic and looms, to stringing glass and pearls, to where I am today, working with shells, pearls, stone and semi-precious beads on sterling, gold, copper, and brass. Imagine what might have been if she had given me a microscope that summer.
I stumbled upon the guitar picks because I needed a functional gift for my hubby. I had never tried metal stamping. In fact when I started, it was very hard to find the metal stamps themselves. After having some local guitarists test some picks, I found that I had a snazzy little product. I tried listing one on Etsy and the rest is history. When it became a little hard to promote the picks and my jewelry simultaneously in thebigbluebead, I decided to open greenleafpickcompany just for the picks. It feels so good to make a personal, yet utilitarian gift that lasts.
When and how did you originally find Etsy?
That I owe to my nephew, Ariel. We were at dinner one night and he mentioned that he’d just bought a handcrafted necklace on Etsy for his wife. The necklace was truly neat, but the website was the real find for me. Right then and there, Ari had changed my life. Hmm, I don’t know that I ever thanked him for that. Thank you, Ari.
What is unique about Etsy and what about the website do you like the most in regards to your shop?
Having started out on another site, I like that anyone can have a store on Etsy from day one. The fees are the same for all and one can go as fast or slow as one wants to. On my other site, I pay for a store front in addition to my listings and fees. It can add up very quickly. Etsy makes it easy and cost-effective with great tools that are free, so anyone can get started in a day.
Also, Etsy enables sellers to reach an international audience without having to start their own website or promote individually. The cost of promotion alone can be prohibitive and daunting. With Etsy, there’s a safety in numbers. Customers can find you without the need to buy yourself a billboard somewhere. And while I enjoy craft fairs, I love that my customers are in New York, New Mexico, New Zealand, Denmark, Scotland, Australia, Germany, and the UK. I doubt very much if they would be able to stop by my local craft fair to see what new goodies I have this week. Etsy IS the universal craft fair! It connects me to the world.
What inspires you the most in regards to your creations?
I guess I’m moved by color combinations and by the natural elements I use themselves. I don’t always get to make all that’s swirling around in my head. I almost have to feel compelled to get the idea out before I can start something really new and different. I have to have an emotional connection to the beads in order to buy them. I’m pretty picky. That’s not to say that all of my beads have to be perfect. I actually like stones and pearls that are flawed and unique, even mismatched. Just like people. I love that they had a life or history before they came to me. It’s sort of a privilege to be the one to marry them with another element and make something new.
What is your favorite piece you’ve created and why?
Hmm, sort of a Sophie’s Choice question, huh. Which of my children do I love the most? I decided a long time ago, that I wouldn’t make things that I didn’t like myself. If I didn’t want to wear it, then I wouldn’t make it or sell it. Okay, twist my arm, I guess my favorite would be my gray pearl and foil glass promote individually Seafoam Bracelet. I don’t even own one for myself. I seem to make them and they end up on other people’s wrists immediately. I like the different silvers in the glass, pearls and sterling on that bracelet. I tend to like and use pearls a lot.
What do you want to accomplish with your online shop?
I would like to keep The Big Blue Bead and Greenleaf Pick Company interesting and fun, as well as to keep growing artistically. The minute it stops being fun, that’s when I’ll stop, however, since I’ve been longing to do this for so long, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. I still have lots of beads to play with yet. Aside from that, I do enjoy making a bit of a profit, so that I can pay those evil bills.
Do you have any new creations in the works? If so, what can shoppers expect to see from you soon?
I go through phases. Right now in The Big Blue Bead, I’m playing with personalized hammered bookmarks in brass, copper and glass. I just did some fun Twilight and Lost in Austen ones and will be adding some to be personalized in August. I reprocess the mistakes or testers from my pick store for the charms, so it’s a case of recycle, reuse. It adds an element of fun as well. And I’ll be doing more beading with peridot in August.
In the Greenleaf Pick Company, people have been asking for pick pendants, so we’ll see if I can play with those, in addition to my initialed mini pick charms. Have to keep the people happy.
Where can readers find out about more information regarding your jewelry and other creations and possible special offers (including additional websites, blogs, facebook, etc)?
These days The Big Blue Bead is on Facebook (The Big Blue Bead), Etsy and eBay(The-Big-Blue-Bead). I usually have a sale going on both selling sites and have a discount code for use on Etsy for anyone who friends TBBB on Facebook. I occasionally run a special or contest on Facebook, so pop by now and then to see what’s up.