Anita: I chanced upon a jewelry store around 3 years ago when traveling in New Jersey and I found the whole process of putting beads and findings together really interesting. I didn't take any formal classes, but I started learning via videos on YouTube - there are so many wonderful people who share their ideas and techniques. I also learn a lot about polymer clay and began playing around with this medium too. Around the same time, I did a beginners ceramics class in India. When I moved to the US in 2015, I had some time on my hands and decided to renew ceramics journey and I was able to learn a lot more since I was able to focus on fine-tuning and practicing various skills and techniques. I also enjoy making ceramic jewelry - seeing clay transform into a piece of wearable art by shaping and glazing/painting it just fascinating and extremely fulfilling. I continue to learn everyday and right now I try and find as many opportunities to continue this journey!
SFEtsy: Tell us about your creative process, where do you begin and how does it evolve?:
Anita: I have various sources of inspiration. One is just things I see around me. For example, I was sitting at the airport and suddenly noticed a very interesting pattern. I sketched it. Or sometimes, I'll see something on the wall, art on the street etc. and I keep documenting them, taking pictures. I later try and see how I can incorporate them either into my jewelry or clay in terms of patterns, shapes and textures. Secondly, I also use ideas I see online as an inspiration, but then I try and put my own touch or twist to it. So, it's more of creative inspiration and evolution!
SFEtsy: What inspires your creations?:
Anita: Nature, people, places, things and just random thoughts and ideas I have - like images in my head in the night before I go to sleep!
SFEtsy: What's your work schedule / routine like?
Anita: During the week, I usually spend around 2 days at least working on various aspect of my creative process - whether it's actually making things, doing photography, updating Facebook and the Etsy page. I also work on weekends when I have special orders or a project I'm working on.
Tell us about your work space - where do you create?
I have a small working area at home and I try and manage in that space. So I work on my jewelry pieces there. With clay, it's more challenging so I go to a studio where I can practice anytime I want to. I do all my bisque, glazing and final firing there.
SFEtsy: What tools do you use that are absolutely essential and makes a huge difference in your day to day process?:
Anita: Every tool plays a part and there are so many that are invaluable. I think for jewelry, it's almost impossible to do anything without the pliers and in clay, it's the needle tool! But I think the greatest tool is one's hand!
SFEtsy: How did you get involved with Etsy?
Anita: Etsy has been a kind of aspirational marketplace for me and I always thought I should perfect my art before starting a store. But then I realized, that the craft journey itself is unending and a process of constant evolving and learning. One never really gets to a stage where they can say, "this is it, I don't have anything else to learn". So I just decided to jump in and kickstart the journey!
SFEtsy: What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?
Anita: As a beginner, and a newly launched shop, the challenge is obviously to get people to visit the shop. And buy! It's like being a small fish in a very big ocean, trying to get noticed. It's a bit daunting and challenging and sometimes I wonder what I should do next, but I'm trying to read, learn and absorb as much as possible from other sellers via the groups and forums.
SFEtsy: What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?
Anita: I did a whole series of mugs around dogs and cats, and I really enjoyed making them. They are all hand-painted and took me a lot of time, but creatively I really enjoyed the whole process. I sold quite a few of them offline, but I'm hoping it catches the interest of more animal lovers online.
SFEtsy: What are your favorite tools or apps that help you with your business?:
Anita: I've been trying to make sure I participate in the forums and groups. I've joined quite a few teams and I'm hoping that will help grow the business as I go along. I definitely would like to do a physical event with the SF Etsy team soon.
SFEtsy: Share with us one lesson you have learned as an online seller.
Anita: Be patient, learn, ask questions and don't give up hope!
SFEtsy: What does buying and selling local handmade mean to you? Or Why should people support small business and handmade?
Anita: I'm passionate about handmade because I feel that you're encouraging creativity, passion and talent. I had a conversation with a buyer recently, who asked why a mug was priced as it was. I explained the whole process to her - and how much a handmade artist makes and she immediately bought the mug! I read this sign (and I don't remember it verbatim) but it said how you buying handmade helps put food on an artist's table, support their kids and encourage an art form. Personally, I would rather buy one $40 mug from an artist and have the money go directly to him/her than four $10 mugs out of a machine made mold, with no character (and in which case I have no idea who my money's going to). I'm not proposing that we fill our homes with handmade (which is also not a bad option!), but I think that we can definitely do our bit by supporting handmade artists.
SFEtsy: What skill or craft would you also like to become more proficient at and why?
Anita: As makers we all suffer from creative blocks - what do you do to unblock to let your creativity flow?:
One thing I've learnt is to walk away from something and come back to it later, when you have a creative block. And most of the time, it works. Do something else, tackle a different project. You'll find the diversion helps!
SFEtsy: What are you working on right now? (optional):
Anita: I'm working on a new batch of ceramic jewelry in May/June and I have some fresh ideas for it. Hopefully, I should be able to get some of them online on the Etsy store.
SFEtsy: What does the future hold for your Etsy Shop and you personally as a maker or small business?:
Anita: I wish I was a star gazer or a fortune teller! I would have loved to know where this journey will lead. Right now, my aim is just to keep making work that will appeal to people. I want buyers to start recognizing and wanting to possess my creations. I know that this will take time, but that's a place I would love to be. Even if it takes a few years, I'll keep working towards that goal.