I never thought I'd own a jewelry design business. I'd always been a singer and actor, so design had never figured into my life. I liked fashion: Vogue Magazine, red carpets at awards shows, dressing how I felt like dressing. After I got married about 10 years ago, I happened upon a job at a bead store and picked up some skills. I liked color. I liked composition. And I made some gifts for friends and family.
One family friend really liked my stuff. She was funky, fun, and statuesque, and I did some custom pieces for her. She insisted I get my license and get my stuff in stores because other people liked it, too. So another family friend helped me start my business. At this point, I was going through a divorce and it was very empowering to have people like what I was doing and want me to succeed.
I came up with my business name one day working at a natural fibers clothing store, and luckily, nobody else in the state had it. "Earth, Wind & Wire" was perfect for my designs: "Earth" for the earthy, African influenced stuff, "Wind" for the more delicate and ethereal pieces, and "Wire" for all the wire I loop and wrap; hours of sitting on the couch beading, looping, cutting and shooting wire everywhere! Gives me something to do while I watch my crime shows:)
I keep my designs simple and go with my gut. It's exciting to say, "I need earrings for that outfit," and be able to make them. This semi-instant-gratification is addictive! I love to see the potential in a bead that looks boring or tacky, then incorporate it into a piece that gets compliments. I think all women are beautiful, and if putting on a special necklace makes them feel more gorgeous, more power to us!
We all need a little retail therapy, and bead shopping usually fills my need to impulse buy. It takes money to make money, right? And working at Mapel definitely inspires me to buy...
I have had my business since 2004 and have been profitable every year - either through doing jewelry shows at people's houses, outdoor festivals, or selling wholesale in stores. But it's time to grow! I am working with a local web designer to get a porfolio going online, and soon will have an Etsy storefront. Jewelry has always been a means to an end to me: something I enjoy that fuels my other passions. So, a lot of my sales will go toward a very cathartic album I've been working on for 10 years.
So, do what you like, like what you do. Make work fun if you can, and never let anyone squelch your passions! - Mandi Wickline