I know when I buy something on Etsy I assume that the other seller is an accomplished businessperson, sitting behind the computer in a neat and tidy house, well-dressed and perfectly coiffed… etc. I have no idea why I have this image of craftspeople and artisans, but I do. I imagine that they are attractive people who look fantastic as they create their gorgeous designs, wearing beautiful jewelry and clothing someone lovingly made by hand. I also imagine that their bookkeeping and accounting is all up to date and organized and that they always know where everything is: business cards, shipping boxes, labels, every item in their inventory (probably labeled and stored alphabetically).
I wonder if people have harbored similar fantasies about me so I thought I’d set the record straight about me, my jewelry studio, my business practices.
I wear pjs pretty much all the time. When I get dressed, I put on sweats. I am wearing my pjs when I run down to the post office to mail your packages. The exception is when I go hiking. Then I put on hiking pants, yoga pants, or a ballgown – but that’s another story for another blog!
I am always covered in dog hair.
There is a coffee cup, a water bottle and a wine glass – all of them empty — next to my computer or my work bench pretty much at all times.
I am committed to reduce-reuse-recycle concepts. This means that I reuse packaging from suppliers when I send out your orders. Sometimes I reuse something that really didn’t have one more trip left in it, so I stabilize with tape. A lot of tape. I probably overdo it with the tape. And sometimes the packages look pretty bad by the time I’m done. I could just buy brand new bubble envelopes. I just really believe in reusing. I apologize if you think your package looks awful. I agree – it might look pretty bad on the outside – but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
I make all my jewelry boxes out of old calendars. The origami folding is easy but time consuming. But the results are unique and pretty! It is, however, one more thing to manage, and often I am in danger of missing the post office because I’ve discovered that I’m out of boxes and have to fold more. I could just buy cheap, crappy, and boring boxes for your gorgeous jewelry, but that isn’t me. The fluffy stuff inside the box is organic cotton batting, like the kind you’d use to make quilts. I bought a huge roll of it and it will take me years to use it up, one torn off piece at a time. I don’t think it is “anti-tarnish” like the white brillo-ish stuff inside a commercial jewelry box but I am hoping you won’t mind.
I realized early on that I could promote myself as a local craftsperson and chant “Buy Local” til the cows come home while assembling components all of which were made elsewhere. Check out Ebay and other online sources for inexpensive jewelry “hardware” and you’ll quickly see what I mean: I have access to amazingly cheap earwires, jumprings, charms, etc. But if I go that route I feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m making McJewelry. It won’t satisfy me and it shouldn’t satisfy you (if you are in the market for “local” items). So I’m switching over to truly local and fully handmade as much as possible. The sterling silver wire I use is made in the United States. I can make my own links, jumprings, and clasps. I just made a special order with a potter down the road: she will make me porcelain bones (cute little doggie bones) for earrings! The gemstones are harder to source “locally” but I can buy form other etsy vendors who attend the gem and minerals shows and buy directly from wholesalers. It isn’t great, but I’m still working on it. Ideas in this area welcomed!
I divide my time between jewelry-making, ghost-writing, writing for myself, and volunteer service. I’m on the board of 2 different outdoors groups here in the Catskills and on the publication committee for an Adirondack-based group. I also have a trail I maintain – a section of the Devil’s Path and it is delightfully devilish – a newsletter I produce and fire tower stewardship duties. I flirt with the idea of dropping everything and getting a job… but I find that this crazy, busy, chaotic life suits me, at least for now.
And now you have a more accurate view of the “artist” behind Malaprop Designs. Think Einstein-haired, bleary-eyed, but incredibly principled and you’ll be close. Or feel free to indulge in a fantasy of your own about me, my studio, and my business. Let me know what you picture – it would be great fun to compare notes!