Member Feature: Maggie’s Jewelry

Please join us in welcoming Maggie’s Jewelry, our featured member!

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  • Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Maggie, and I live outside Seattle with my husband and three kids.  We have pets, my husband and daughter are big on the pets.  I am currently working on completing my master’s degree, although I am perpetually behind on writing my thesis.  I really mean that: I am actually so far behind it’s scary.  I spent 6 years in the Army before completing my Ba and then opening the shop, eventually.  My husband is still active duty Army.

  • When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so? What makes your business stand out from others?

Well – this is kind of a long question.  My shop kind of opened in stages, offline first, then through Etsy eventually.  When I was in college, my husband went overseas and I ended up getting really sick while he was gone.  I went to stay with my mother who lived about 30 minutes away – mainly so that she could take care of the kids who were all under 4 at the time.  (Yes my kids are very close together – there are less than 3 years between the oldest and youngest).  My mom needed something to do with the kids – and she lived near Shipwreck Beads (the largest Bead Store in the world they say) and I woke up several days later owning over $1000 in beads – and I had to do something.

I wound up selling custom items on post through a kiosk – and then branching out into my own designs.  I didn’t open my shop on Etsy until 2010, and took a year off in 2011-2012 while I was working.  I really started working on the shop last year this time – because I wasn’t finding a job, and working with gemstones really calmed me.

I spend a lot of time on gemstones – meanings, colors, feel.  I will often go to shows and literally “feel” how the stones fell in my hand – that is often a way I decide to buy a strand.  Sure, I will often go with the standard precious and semi-precious stones, but if there is not a good “feel” to the strand I may not buy it.    My mother and I work on meanings and healing properties a lot with the stones – but that is more for fun than as a means to “sell”.

    • Any exciting news you’d like to share? I recently went over 270 sales – which is a big deal for me!

Mexican Fire Opal Hoop Earrings, Ombre Fire Opal Earings, October Birthstone, White, Yellow, Orange, Red, Autumn Colors, Fall Earrings, October-3

  • Tell us a bit about the products you have available.
    • Do you offer customization?
      I offer extensive customization.  Often customers send me a photo of an item they bought years ago and ask me to recreate it – which I go out of my way to do.  Sometimes the custom work takes a lot longer than the “regular” work because I scour the local gem shops / shows and online to find just the right stones to put in that custom piece.
    • What are the price range of your items? 
      It really depends on the stones – or glass, or crystal, or metal.  I have some items in the shop as low as $15 dollars and some Items well over 200.
    • What countries do you ship to? 
      I ship everywhere – Domestic US shipping is Free, and overseas is a reduced rate from what I would pay to make that “free US Shipping” a little more fair for overseas.
    • Do you have a new design/product available? I am really having fun working with my minimal earrings.  The drop dangles and trio earrings are some of my favorites.
    • What is your most popular item on Etsy?
      My Rainbow Tourmaline Hoop Earrings – Those are insanely popular and sell every few weeks it seems.
    • How can people care for your products to ensure they last as long as possible?
      My items are sterling silver and 14k gold filled, usually gemstone.  The best way I have found with the wire wrapping is to use a spray gemstone and metal cleaner – those are found on Etsy, in craft stores, jewelry stores and big box stores also.  Also a soft polishing cloth for silver and gemstones keeps it all shiny and sparkly.  Store dry – best bet is in the plastic baggy I ship it in, which lies within the gift bag presentation.
    • What materials do you use and which is your favourite to work with?
      I use gemstones, glass, and Swarovski crystal.  I use Sterling Silver and 14k Gold Filled – and a wee bit of copper.
    • What inspires your work and new products?
      Anything inspires them.  Something I see, someone wearing something on a show I want to recreate.  Something my daughter likes.  Something I see in nature.  Really, anything.  A Song, a story, a novel, a character I see / read / hear about.
    • How would you describe your style?
      Generally pretty “classic” but also I like to have fun.  I like to play with texture and color.
    • Is there someone you look up to and inspires you? Almost anyone. I like to read a lot, so I get inspiration from words.
  • Tell us a bit about your workspace.
    • Do you work out of your home or rent an office/studio for your business?
      I work out of my home – in a very small space I created as a work space.
    • What is your favourite tool?
      I created a bead box that I can carry around the basic tools I work with to make jewelry.  I carry it to the dining table, to my bed when I want to create and watch TV, or to the living room, to spend time with the kids.  I can no longer live without it – though it is rustic and kind of messy now!
    • What do you love about your space and what do you wish you could change?
      I love that my space is accessible.  I hate that my space is small, and I can’t really “go hide” in my space.  I would love to have a separate room to just retreat to once in a while and work / photograph, etc.
  • Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your own work, vs buying mass-produced products from box stores?

When you buy handmade, there is a connection, a real connection between the artist and the buyer.  Even if the connection is something simple like, can you change these ear wires for me, it is there.  I write a note with every item I ship, it could be a simple thank you, or why I was personally drawn to a stone.  Once I wrote a letter about the location the earrings purchased were going – there is always a little connection because I have done a lot of traveling so I have connections to many areas my jewelry goes to.   There is also excitement on my end – when I see something is sold, there is this sense of pride from knowing that someone else loved that item and a deep understanding that it will make them feel like a million bucks.   I like the connection more than the actual buying / selling of crafts / art.

  • What are your future goals for the business this year and in the coming years? What is your dream?

Ah, I will be making some purchases for myself this holiday season in order to expand my line.  I will be working with new designs and metals – I am leaning more toward the “art” of my craft.  I am looking forward to working with mixed metals more, and settings.  And Gemstones I find that are unique and interesting.  My goals are really to just do better – make beautiful items that people will love and enjoy forever.  I would also like to be better at remembering to blog about my shop and what I do – and to open up a little more personally on the blog and in the social media arena.  Like – my oldest son is actually a Gem hound who still goes to gem and jewelry shows to look at raw gemstones.  He wants to start working with lapidary for my shop and it’s kind of a fun little thing he and I have together.

  • Is this your full-time job or do you have a day job? If so, what do you do for work?

This is my entire job.  I used to work for the federal government, in public relations.  But now this is what I have / what I do and my full time bread and butter.  I love working with the gemstones though, so it’s kind of nice to not have to put on Spanx on a daily basis for work.

Do you have any advise for someone thinking of opening their own business? Any advise for those wanting to sell on Etsy?

I would look around the forums.  Find out how to take photos really well.  I did some news photography in the Army so you would think I would be able to use a camera – nope, I had to go to my best friend from high school who was a photographer on Etsy until recently to get “how do I set up my camera for this shot” advise.   It’s never really going to be a one man or one woman show – even if it feels like that sometimes.  You are probably on the forums, or reading the etsy blog, or something within etsy – that means you are not actually going it alone.  Remember that – there is community on there, if you just go out and open up a little.

  • Besides your business, what do you like to do with your time?
    • Do you have any other craft-related hobbies?
      I cook a lot, and try to make fancy foods.  I also knit from time to time.
    • Do you play a sport or instrument? 
      No, I am a disabled Veteran, I am not able to actually do very much that is active.
  • Where can people find out more about you and your business?

https://www.facebook.com/maggiesjewelry
https://twitter.com/maggieshartel
http://www.pinterest.com/maggiesjewelry

Some fun questions!

  • What is your dream vacation? Vienna, Austria.  I have always been in Love with Vienna.  But, as I have been there a few time, I should say Scotland and the British Isles – I have been meaning to get there for a long, long time.
  • Do you have a favourite Ryan Glosing “hey girl” meme?  Nah, I just kind of giggle at them all.  I suppose I like the knitting ones quite a bit.
  • What was the last movie you saw in theatres?  Uhhhh – Man of Steel?  We go see superhero movies together as a family, mostly around the kids birthdays that all fall in summer.  So the kids (and my husband) all get a “summer blockbuster” movie weekend.   I was born in December, so I get the seasonal Starbucks.
  • Favourite Ice Cream? Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Or almost anything.
  • Coke or Pepsi? Neither – but I do drink Sprite for the fizzy when I am having sinus troubles.
  • Game of Thrones or Modern Family?  Game of Thrones, I suppose.  Generally my husband chooses everything on TV because its mostly background noise for me.
  • Urban or suburban? Urban.
  • Favourite book?  Too many to name.
  • Tell us something quickly about yourself. I have fire red hair – it’s curly and I have green eyes.  Red hair actually runs deeply in my family – two of my three kids have red hair, my mother and two of her sisters have red hair, and one of my two sisters have red hair (and a half-sister also).  The kids in school always get confused when they study dominant vs. recessive genes in science because the red hair in our family seems to be dominant rather than recessive.

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If you would like to be featured, please contact admin Natalie at natalie@whenshuttersclick.com. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

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