Handmade in Conifer - Meet the Maker
And, here is Cynthia, the creative mind behind Handmade in Conifer
How did your business get its start?
I had been in the corporate world for over 30 years and was always finding ways to express my creativity on the side by making jewelry, doing landscape photography, casting resin, taking various classes, etc. Finally, a life change created the opportunity for me to turn my creativity into a business! I left the corporate world and decided to focus on my jewelry making because it allows me to use so many creative techniques that I love. First, I went crazy creating a lot of different pieces - greatly enjoying the freedom to express myself with abandon! Once I got that out of my system :), I went to my first craft fair (a holiday market) and found that yes, people liked what I made. After that, I split my time between making more jewelry and planning out how I wanted to approach my new business. As much as we all love the creating part of a handmade artisan business, it is a business and it needs a plan. I started all of about 1.5 years ago, so I’m still in the beginning phases of building my business - going to craft fairs, moving my work onto my new website and spreading the word with social media. There is so much to do and I’m loving every bit of it!
What sparks your creativity most?
So many things spark my creativity! Sometimes I just wake up in a super energized creative mood. Wow, those are great days! Other times, I’ll see something - like a combination of colors, or something outside in the mountains here, or a certain shape - and those things will give me an idea that I want to try right away. I love just looking at the natural stones I have and letting them inspire me. They are all such beautiful reminders of the gorgeous world around us, each stone is its own piece of art!
What's the best thing about running your own business? The worst?
The best thing is that I am in control of what I do. Creating and running a business is a lot of work besides the creating part, but I can choose what I want to do and when. I was in the corporate world for 30+ years and I made the decision to leave that and start my own business so I could let my creativity flow and work for myself, not a corporation.
The worst thing about running your own business…hmm…I’d have to say that as great as it is to be able to do everything yourself, that’s also the problem(!). It’s just me, so I am constantly juggling through the things that need to be done because I can’t just create all the time, I have to run a business. Once I create a piece, there is a large amount of time I need to spend photographing it, writing up product descriptions, posting the piece on my website then throughout social media, packaging it, keeping it shiny & clean, taking it to craft fairs… and more! :) People don’t realize all the other work that goes into a piece besides its creation. That might be the “worst thing - but it’s still the most satisfying experience I’ve ever had to be able to create and sell my creations!
Share a funny story about your business.
Hmmm…The funniest thing I can think of right now is recently someone contacted me about making a custom piece for a friend’s upcoming 50th birthday. She had seen my website and liked my work so wanted me to design something unique for her friend. The funny thing about the story is…. she wanted the piece to include some hair from her friend’s horse!! She asked her friend to mail her some of her horse’s hair for a “surprise” and then handed me an envelope full of horse hair to work with! What a funny meeting that was! Her friend had no idea what was going on and in the end was very surprised by the resin, copper and leather necklace I created using her horse’s hair! :)
What kind of music do you listen to while you create? List your 3 favorite inspirational songs.
It depends how I feel and what I’m working on. I tend to listen to classic rockers like Bruce Springsteen, or newer rock bands like One Republic. Sometimes I feel like I want soaring instrumental music so I’ll listen to the cello and piano of The Piano Guys. They are really inspiring. I love their song “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets”. I can’t say I have 3 favorite songs, just favorite my favorite styles of music.
Of all the products you create, which is your very favorite? Which is a customer favorite?
Ohhh… my favorite? That’s a hard question! I love natural stone, so I want to say anything I make using stone is my favorite. The beauty of natural stone is why I started creating jewelry to begin with. But, I think my favorite right now is my hand-torched flame copper jewelry. I use my hand torch to “paint” with the flame - creating amazing colors on copper. It’s like free-form abstract art on jewelry. No two pieces will ever look the same, and since various weather factors change how the colors will come out on the copper, you can never be sure what colors you will get on any day! It’s very rare to find this kind of jewelry - it’s beautiful and organic. I love it!
What are you looking forward to about the Market?
I am looking forward to being surrounded by other artists and their creations. I really love handmade markets - they are unique and you can always find a different interpretation of the “same ol’ product” because each artisan stamps it with their own personality and creativity.