Friday, March 9, 2012

Interview with Joanna of Earthware

Today we bring you an interview from Joanna of Earthware, a handmade jewelry business in Hoover, AL.  Hillary met Joanna several months ago at a craft fair in Helena and the two have kept up with each other since.

Your story is a little different from most of the other people I have interviewed. Tell everyone how you got started into making and selling jewelry.

Ok, so I got started making jewelry around November of 2010. A friend of mine has a small jewelry business and I invited her to do a jewelry show at my home for me and all my friends. I was super excited about it because I got free jewelry for hosting. I was so impressed with her collection that a few weeks later I asked if I could come to her house and pick through her bead studio to see if there were things that I could throw together. I was hooked as soon as I walked in the door. It was bead heaven. Wall to wall, beads, components, string, chain, etc. You name it, she had it. I picked out a few things and left. I couldn't get her studio out of my head, I had to go play in bead land. I called her and basically forced her to say yes that I could come help her make jewelry part time. She paid me a few bucks a set. I was obsessed with beading after my first day. We would sit there for hours, listening to music, create and chat. She was pretty impressed with how well I did for never having beaded before. I too was pretty impressed with myself. She mentioned that I should start my own business. My mind started spinning. After a few weeks, we had pumped out so much jewelry that she had to place new orders. There was too much down time for me. I decided at that moment that I would do what she had recommended and open my own jewelry business. A sweet friend let me borrow some money to get started and that was the beginning of Earthwear. 

Making the jewelry was easy, selling it, not so much. I got my first order of beads on April 28, 2010. It was the day after the horrific tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa, Cullman and Birmingham. I was in the middle of trying to organize donations for a friend of my son's teacher who had a 2 week old baby and had lost their home. In between emails, I started searching the internet for local art shows and was amazed that there was a whole little world out there for artists. That made me very happy! I then realized that it was mostly too late to get into most of them due to the late time of the year and deadlines. Some of them were nice and let me in late, others basically told me tough luck and call back next year. So that is exactly what I am doing!!  

In the time that I have known you, your skill and style have improved rapidly. What do you you attribute this to?

My style of jewelry making started out very basic. All I did was bead. I am good with color and shapes, and just put pieces together that I thought would look good. I like a lot of different shapes, colors and textures in a piece, and multiple patterns. You know when you see Earthwear, it just has that look. I will never forget my first time working with copper wire. I was so afraid to fail at it that I avoided it for a long time. I just didn't think I could do it. A friend of mine that was selling my jewelry for me started wrapping pendants. I had already bought all the stuff to do it, but like I said, I was scared. She did such a good job that I became obsessed again. She came over and showed me how to get started and I need to thank her for that. So my style has grown and evolved in a short time due to my determination to prove to my self that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I adore pretty, handmade jewelry and strive with every piece to make it the best one I have ever made. 

Where do you get your inspiration for the art you create?

Inspiration for each piece comes from a single stone usually. I have always been good with color. I mean, putting together outfits, planting a garden, decorating my home...etc. When I see a stone that I cant quit thinking about, I know that is my inspiration piece and I build the piece around that stone. I do get "writers block" occasionally and get sick of the same ole stuff that I have been making and I'll jump on Pintrest or Etsy and grab and idea or two. If I do that, I always make sure that it is made differently than the original piece I saw. I would not want to copy anyone's work. 

What have you found is the most successful way to market yourself?

The most successful way I market Earthwear is by getting out there and showing people who you are and what you have to offer. The other most successful thing about Earthwear is my logo. I put my logo on all my earring cards, so when someone buys them, they have my logo as well. That is the first thing people recognize when they see me at a show. They point to my logo on my tent sign and say, "oh yeah, I've seen this jewelry somewhere". When you make quality products, they basically sell themselves, you just gotta get it out there in everyone's face. People are more willing to buy something if they are familiar with it. Smiling helps a lot too!

What details do you think artists should pay attention to when trying to market their art that they might sometimes miss?

I think an artist should stay true to who they are and the art that they create. Don't go out there and try to create something that isn't you and try to create something just because you think it will sell. Creativity is such a powerful and personal journey. When an artist sits down to create something, they are not thinking about how much money they are gonna make from it, they are thinking about what inspired them to do it in the first place. They are thinking about the miners who dug into the earth to find the vein of turquoise, or the logger to cut down the tree, or the welder who cut the sheet of metal, or what ever person worked to make sure you have your medium of choice. Or at least that is what I think about. I also think about the person who will wear that piece of jewelry and if I will ever see them out and about enjoying it. A big realization for me this past holiday season was the fact that women all over would be opening gifts and seeing my logo and that gorgeous piece of Earth that Mother Nature was so gracious to offer us. All artist need to remember that, yeah, the money is good, but none of us would be doing this if we didn't love it. So don't look at your art as a job, but be thankful that we are able to do what we love, what is in our hearts and that other people love it as much as we do and want to give us money for the things that we create. The old saying is true, Its a labor of love.

What is your favorite thing about creating and selling your art?

My favorite thing about creating my art is the satisfaction I get when a piece is completed. I will throw the necklace around my neck and think it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I love it even more when I see someone else get excited about the things that I make. It is a very good feeling knowing that someone loves something that you made and love more than you do!

Last but not least, where can we find you and your art?

You can find me in the heart of Hoover. I have grown up here and will raise my children here as well. Hoover is home and always will be. I don't have a shop, but you can find my art here on facebook and at most of the big art shows in Hoover and surrounding areas. I am hoping to get into the the 2012 Buck Creek Festival this year and have already been invited back to a number of festivals from last year. One being the Festival in the Pines at Tannehill State Park in Sept. I plan on doing the Moss Rock Festival here in Hoover as well as the Bluff Park art show in Hoover in November. I am booked for a event in Helena called You're So Artsy in March. Also I will be at the Mt. Laurel Spring Festival in April.

We would also like to note that Joanna has a facebook page at

1 comment:

  1. Love all the cute jewelry!