Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
I am a silver and freshly-trained goldsmith having apprenticed here in the USA and in the UK Channel Islands of Guernsey. Up until deciding to take the artistry route, I was working in Offshore Trust Fund Management where I managed portfolios for Argentinian and Russian millionaire and billionaires. The job nearly broke my spirit, and if not for metalsmithing, I’m not sure what sort of mental state I would be in at the moment!
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I will celebrate our one-year anniversary on March 1st, 2017 and did not think very much about silversmithing as a full-time career until I was selected as an Emerging Artist in the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in Tampa which is a juried art festival that brings the country’s best artists. It was a springboard into full-time artistry that I’ll be forever grateful to be a part of.
La Soucique is Guernsey French, which is a latin patois spoken only by 4-500 people today. My husband’s family’s home was named, “La Soucique”, which means a timeless sense of style.
Tell us a bit about your products.
While living on the island of Guernsey, I would walk the often-lonely beaches and pick up sea glass – I had never seen a piece before and we would get an ice cream bucket full in 20 minutes! So, I had jars of it sitting around and when I came to bezel setting, rather than using expensive stones I began setting seaglass. After all, if I mucked it up, it was free. Guernsey is notoriously difficult to ship to so stones were extortionately priced (even Amazon won’t ship and you cannot get an iTunes account to save your life!). I came to find how lovely seaglass glowed when set in sterling and it is still my favorite setting.
We’ve island hopped since moving to Guernsey from Kentucky; to Guernsey then to Tybee Island (Savannah, GA), and now we live in Amelia Island, Florida. There has been no shortage of inspiration – but there is not much sea glass to be found, sadly! I rely on a lot of friends and through art shows, I’ve been able to pick through many clients’ gorgeous seaglass collections.
What inspires your work?
The sea, absolutely. And the glass that it tumbles. Seaglass represents a journey of transformation, where your past doesn’t decide your future. It’s lived so many lifetimes! If only it could tell us its story… what once was clear and fragile is now strong with a certain patina, like the change from childhood to adulthood.
And reading. In fact, if you’ve never read, “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, you ought to. Written in the 1950’s, its still especially applicable today.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
Slow and steady wins the race. I feel that so many jewelry artists are hungry to get hundreds of wholesale accounts but I cannot fathom what kind of quality of life that would bring. I feel that doubling my annual sales is a fair goal, which with two daughters under 8, I think is a brilliant move. Dreams are another thing! I dream of financial independence and having an income stream that is wholly my own to rely upon.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
Flexibility and being innovative. It seems that the larger you are, the less time you have to create new work which I absolutely need. I change gears quite a lot in the day, so it’s been a challenge to focus on collections but I’m working on that.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
Yes – a simple one just in our home. I took the plunge and bought a flex shaft which has changed my world. I still rely upon my trusty creme brûlée torch, though!
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
I believe that university business classes and in my case, communications classes, do not prepare you for sole proprietorship but merely to serve a corporation. I wish that I had known more about the freedoms of owning my own business which I wish now that I had began before having children!
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Etsy is a fantastic springboard as well, to get your work out there and to offer it for sale. It can be harrowing, at times! My first Etsy sale was quite traumatic, which made me almost quit the platform altogether. But we stuck it out. And sometimes, selling a piece is like saying goodbye to an old friend, but when you see someone happy with a piece which are gifts in many cases. That is brilliant to get those happy messages.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
We head to the beach here in Amelia Island. Peter’s Point is my favorite and Black Rock beach is fabulous, or to Hanna Park in Jacksonville (where I find 5 pieces of sea glass per hour, on average)! I read a lot and watch a lot of movies.
What is your favorite quote?
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Where can people find out more about your business?
We’ve launched our own website with an Etsy shop link – www.LaSouciqueStudio.com and can be found in four locations.
Facebook: La Soucique Studio
Pinterest: Kimbery Hanna Wallis
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am a staunch believer in Community over Competition so if anyone has any questions, even about techniques or processes, please reach out. We’re all in this together – thank you again for the feature!
If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.