Today’s Etsy Spotlight comes to you from one of my favorite English majors! I have known Bailey for a few years and when I found out about her Etsy store, Mustard Ampersand, I knew it would be nothing but awesome! I hope you enjoy her interview… as always, be sure to click any image in the post for more info or to purchase!
Oh, and stay tuned because she’s sponsoring an awesome giveaway later this week! Can’t wait to share, but for now… here’s the Spotlight!
How long have you been selling on Etsy? How did you become interested in creating your own handmade products?
I’ve been an Etsy addict for a few years, but I just started selling this summer. I graduated from college in the spring and quickly realized that I needed a hobby to keep myself sane. Small crafts like jewelry have always been a favorite, so I decided to try my hand at making some nest necklaces like those popular now. After a few tries, I got the hang of it, and started expanding my shop to include more items.
What inspires you?
I first started when I saw a necklace I liked, and realized I could make one myself. As the past few months have gone on, though, I’ve fallen in love with crafting and I find inspiration everywhere. I’m a writer as well, so I would say that’s part of my job – finding inspiration in unlikely places. One of my other favorite hobbies is watching TV, and I’d be kidding if I said I wasn’t inspired by some of my shows. These crafts tend to be more fun and less “serious” looking – take my bookmarks, for example. I’m also working on a series of fandom-inspired necklaces for some of my favorite shows. For fans who want to show support of their favorite shows, it can be hard to find a piece that’s appropriate for more everyday wear, since a lot of fandom-inspired jewelry is chunky, bright, and in-your-face. I like being able to wear a word necklace that shows my loyalty without feeling silly in the workplace.
I only make crafts that are meaningful to me, and I think anyone can see how proud I am of my jewelry when I wear it. I don’t do anything halfway, and I think the quality of my workmanship proves that. As long as it maintains quality and a whimsical spirit, I’m proud of it.
What are some of your favorite colors/patterns/design aesthetics? How do you incorporate them into your work?
I would definitely say a lot of my work is inspired by my love of birds and flight. There’s just something about the lightness of wire that makes it fun to use. I had no idea wire wrapping would be as fun as it is. Now, when I go out, I find wire inspiration in all sorts of unexpected things – anywhere and everywhere.
Since I graduated with an English degree in the spring, my love of books has only become more obvious in my work. I have a lot of vintage books that I’ve collected just because I thought they were interesting, and Etsy has let me find a way to start actually using them instead of keeping them in a box in my closet. For example, my chalkboard frame that’s covered in book pages? It’s actually the submission guidelines from a 1968 Writer’s Market (basically, the writers’ bible) that I picked up at a book sale, which I think is pretty neat for writing nerds like myself.
And as someone who grew up with sensitive skin – I could barely even wear jeans as a child because of the metal button – it’s very important to me that all of my jewelry be lead- and nickel-free. I know as well as the next girl that there’s nothing worse than wearing an adorable necklace and having a not-so-adorable red mark on your neck and chest a few hours later, or having to take out your cute earrings because they’re hurting your ears. I strive to make all of my jewelry wearable for everyone – it’s the quality that counts, for me.
Who are some of your favorite celebrities? Whose style would match up with what’s available in your store?
My favorite celebrities are women whose styles are a mix of current trends and retro fashion – trendy vintage, if you will. With the popularity of “Mad Men style,” minimal and classy jewelry is back in, and as a charm necklace addict, I’m pretty excited by this renewed trend.
Minimal jewelry is very popular right now, which I think lends itself well to my work. In my own personal style, I prefer a few chunky necklaces, but a small charm or word is the perfect finishing touch for any look. Many of my customers are students, also, which means they know as well as I do that a smaller necklace is a great way to add a fresh perk to dressing for a long day of classes.
Of course, my wire words are inspired by the one and only Carrie Bradshaw, the fashionable pioneer of the name necklace. I’m a huge Sex and the City fan, and I’d love to think that part of my work is inspired by those fabulous ladies.
What is your workroom like? What conditions lead you to create the best work?
Honestly, I don’t really have a serious workroom at the moment – most of my craft time takes place either at my home desk or in the garage. My favorite set-up, though, is sitting at my desk with my work lamp on so I can see clearly. I keep a dress form next to my desk so I can test out necklace lengths, too. This really is a home operation – but since my crafts are so small, the work doesn’t require a lot of space.
How long does it take to design and create each piece?
Each piece takes between half an hour to a couple of hours, depending on what it is. The wire words get faster with time, but I still have to remind myself to slow down and really take care – if you bend the wire the wrong way, it’s really hard to get it to look right without starting over. Even the nest necklaces take time. There’s a lot of detail work that goes into making it look actually like a nest.
My paper designs don’t take as much time, but the precision work is still essential. A missed cut or incomplete stamp can completely ruin a piece, so it’s very important that each piece is crafted with extreme care.
What is your favorite product so far?
It’s hard to say – my newest project is always my favorite! If I had to pick, I’d probably stick with my nest necklaces, though – especially the ones with the book pages in them. They’re fun to make, they’re unique, and I try to make each one a step up from what’s widely available. And those little birds are so darn cute!
What is the most interesting request you’ve received from a customer?
N/A – I’ve only had one custom order and it was just for two of something in my store. Since I just started, I haven’t had too many requests yet! I’m always open to custom orders, though – I even have a listing just for that purpose in my necklaces. I anticipate custom orders being a large part of my wire word necklace business, since each necklace is as unique as the person who orders it.
What makes your Etsy store different from others?
I prefer unique pieces, something you can’t get just anywhere. That’s why my bird’s nest necklaces are a little bit different from the average one you’ll find on Etsy. It’s not too difficult to whip up an egg/nest necklace, but I like to spend the extra time to make it a truly unique charm. I love incorporating book pages into any of my craft work, and I think incorporating this with my love of the nest necklaces has allowed me to come up with a unique design.
I’d also like to grow the custom order part of my business, since so many of my jewelry pieces are customizable. I’m willing to work with anyone to make them exactly what they’re looking for. Everything is customizable, from wire color to bead type to add-ons.
Thanks for the interview, Bailey! Don’t forget to check back on Friday for the giveaway!