Friday, May 29, 2009
EAOC Spotlight: Runako Designs
I don't talk about it much on my blog, but I am a member of a couple of Etsy teams, namely CREST (Capital Region Etsy Street Team) and EAOC (Etsy Artists of Color.) I'm trying to be a more proactive Etsian, and what better way to start by giving some love to another Etsian. I stopped doing these spotlights about a month or so ago because I wanted these Q&As to be intimate so you can really get to know the person behind the artistry. I've been studying the shops and the artist profiles then basing my questions on that. So without further ado, I present Runako Designs!
Tell us how you got started in jewelry-making and where do you draw your creative inspiration?
I met a very nice lady in the mall about 5 years ago who was making jewelry for her shop. I asked her if she taught classes, and it wast there and then that it began. She taught me to make a bracelet and the rest has been self-taught through additional classes, videos and books.
I draw my inspiration from nature and other ethnic art. I keep photos and artwork near my workspace for inspiration. As for color, I don’t need to look any further than nature; it’s a natural color pallet that has inspired many of my designs.
Is jewelry-making your full-time gig or do you have a “real job?”
Jewelry making is my part time gig that I have to keep in check every now and again. As for my full time job, I’m a HR Manager for two Manufacturing and distribution facilities, and running next to that is my full time job as a single parent to a “tween” going on 30.
How do you balance motherhood and being a single parent with your artistry and all the other things you have going on?
WOW! It is definitely a balancing act, but I do my best to put my son first. I don’t get busy with jewelry until he goes to bed most nights. He’s been with me to two shows recently. For me, it’s together time for life’s lessons and I also hope that I’m inspiring him to look beyond working for someone else when he gets older and thinking about doing his own thing. He’s been asking lots of questions about business, so I think it’s working. In addition to the above, I typically schedule activities and shows around his schedule. Sometimes on weekends when he say’s “mom, you’re making too much jewelry”, that’s my cue to get in check with my top priority…family.
What are some of your favorite materials to work with?
I absolutely love working with metals, gemstones and pearls. I can’t say that I have a particular favorite though, as I try to keep my options open when creating.
What brought you to Etsy?
Finding the need to diversify my presence online is what brought me to Etsy. I met wonderful graphic artists at KMT Graphic Designs, who had just opened her shop and through networking with Tara and asking a lot of questions about the Etsy community, and her encouragement, I figured I’d give it a shot. I really like the professional look of the site and the ease of opening a shop. I’m still working on uploading photos to my shop, but I’m hoping to have it completed by the end of the month.
How do you stay fresh and unique among that vast sea of jewelry makers?
Honestly, I can’t really say that I try to keep up with what everyone else is doing; it’s too costly. I design by what inspires me. As long as nature and art continues to evolve and change, so will my designs. I purchase materials that I think will enhance my jewelry style. There will always be a ton of jewelry available for consumers to purchase and lucky for all of us, we do have different styles. I learned a long time ago, that I can’t be everything to every consumer, and I can’t keep up with the Jones’, holidays or seasons. I think I’ve found my niche and those are the people that I’m catering to. They inspire and drive me every day.
Do you sell anywhere else besides Etsy?
Yes, currently, I sell through local shows, home parties and word of mouth. I also have an online store at http://www.runakojewelry.com/ .
What’s the most rewarding and the most frustrating thing about making and selling jewelry?
I’d have to say the most rewarding thing about making jewelry is the end result and the happy customers. My customers fuel me with energy, and because of that, I try to provide the best customer service and quality products I can find.
The most frustrating thing about making jewelry is when I hit dry spells with my creativity. There is nothing worse than sitting and looking at 6 trays of unfinished pieces because I can’t see beyond the beads and components.
What are your short-term and long-term goals with your shop?
My short term goals with my shop is to first get it loaded with lots of eye candy. My long term goals is to really dig in and find out how Etsy works, then find a niche there that I can tap into, that may be different from my online store. For instance, just earrings or just necklaces or targeting the bride, etc. I would love to have it all figured out before Christmas.
If you could do anything else besides make jewelry, what would it be?
I know it would have to be to teach. To this day, my mom still says to me “you should have been a teacher”, when she hears me talk about my frustration with the school system some days. As a child I used to play teacher and classroom around my bed, with my dolls and lots of paper. I went to private school, so I also played Nun Dee. As I got older, life’s priorities steered me away from the profession, but for the past four years, I’ve been doing more leadership training, volunteering with Junior Achievement and teaching jewelry classes… I think the Nun in me is itching to come out.
Thanks Dee for taking the time to chat with me. I wish you nothing but success and ever-flowing creativity!