Wednesday, December 02, 2015

chasing a dream series: running a jewelry business

There are so many things that inspire me but one of my biggest inspirations comes from hearing other people's stories. Stories of chasing after dreams, trying something new and pursuing a passion project are the things that really get my heart racing!

Today I am excited to share another post in my series called "Chasing a Dream". Today I am interviewing a fellow Oregon Coast native Ashley Mersereau. She is a crazy talented artist running and growing her jewelry business Roots and Wings


TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR JOURNEY WITH ART.

I grew up in a small town on the Oregon coast where I spent a lot of time outside, running around in the woods, building forts and making up games with the neighborhood kids.  I think I’ve always been a creative person in some way;  as a child I distinctly remember spending hours lost in art projects, creating stories, fairy houses and colorful little worlds.  I still do that today, only now it’s in my home, the way I dress, and my business. All of those things I consider to be creative acts. 

After high school I went to college in Colorado, and while I dabbled in Studio Art classes I was too intimidated by the idea of calling myself an “Artist” to really pursue art as a career.  Post college I wanted to give back and do something helpful, so I spent a couple of years in Northern California working in the non-profit world with at-risk kids (shout out to Americorps!).  While it was meaningful work, I hated it.  It just wasn't a good fit and forced me to reexamine what I wanted out of my work life. 

Eventually, after traveling the world a bit, I moved back to my hometown and took a job bagging groceries at the local health food store.  I worked part time and for the first time in my adult life I had the free time and space to create art again.  I lived alone, and I spent those first couple years falling back in love with the landscape of the North Oregon Coast and with creating art.  I began painting, drawing, and making jewelry for myself.  Family and friends bought my work, and slowly Roots & Wings Jewelry grew into something real and tangible.  

After a couple years of running my business on the side I took the leap, quit my day job, and haven't looked back since.  It took me a long time to feel comfortable calling myself an “Artist,” to really own that label and feel confident about it.  I believe strongly now that the most important thing you can do is find work that inspires you and makes you come alive.  Accepting that my purpose in the world is simply to follow my heart and make beautiful things has allowed me to let go of a lot of preconceived ideas of what I “should” be doing, and to be happy in a deeper way.













WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I’m inspired by the landscape, weather and culture of the Oregon Coast where I live.  Having grown up here this place has a strong grasp on my imagination and heart.  Traveling and seeing new places always stokes my creative fire, and we try to get out as much as possible in our converted camper van for road trips and long weekends.  





Seeing the work my fellow artists and makers are creating inspires and motivates me (and there are so many great artists out there!).  In this world of perfectly curated Instagram feeds and Pinterest I’m also really inspired by people who share honest, vulnerable, real emotions in their art and life.  There’s something wonderfully human and inspiring in that, and I hope to create that sense in my work as well.


HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR JEWELRY?

Often times when I’m making jewelry I’m just thinking about something that I would be excited to wear.  The feeling you get when you’re wearing a really awesome piece of jewelry (or clothes, shoes, etc..) is a large part of what I’m going for.  I’m inspired by color combinations, patterns and textiles, fashion, and the natural world (among other things).



WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEDIUM TO WORK IN?

I like working with copper because it’s not a metal you see as often and it has this warm, lush feeling to it that I love.  I also still dabble in painting and drawing and I love working with watercolors and ink in that case.  Turquoise and chrysophrase are a couple of my favorite stones to work with.


HOW DID YOU START MAKING JEWELRY? CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR PROCESS AND MATERIALS?

I actually started out making hammered bottle cap earrings if you can believe it!  They were very basic but really fun to make.  I’ve come a long way since then and have been almost entirely self-taught.  I use sterling silver filled, 14 kt gold filled, and copper metals for the most part, as well as a variety of semi-precious stones, glass and textiles.  Sometimes I draw out a set of designs beforehand and sometimes I let the materials guide me.

Once I have a design in mind I’ll lay the materials out on my desk, shape the metal if need be, and then hammer it and put the whole piece together.  I use a variety of different tools and techniques depending on the piece.  Once I’ve perfected a design I’ll take notes so that I can repeat it.  I have a lot of designs that I’ll repeat or make variations of which saves me time in the end.



I LOVE SEEING HOW OTHER ARTISTS SET UP THEIR CREATIVE SPACE. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR STUDIO?

I have my studio set up in our living room, which is how it’s been from the beginning.  I have a long desk against the wall with piles of stones, wire, and tools organized on it.  I’ve created a system where most everything I need is in immediate reach when I sit down to work.  I have extra materials stored under my desk, as well as in my office in another room in the house.  Having a little space to do computer work and keep track of all my to-do lists helps keep me sane.  However, my long-time dream has been to have a separate little studio building on the property, and it looks like that dream may actually come true this year!  My boyfriend and I just bought our first home this summer and I’m drawing up plans to build a studio on the property, which I’m over the moon excited about!


TELL US ABOUT HOW YOUR BUSINESS HAS EVOLVED OVER TIME.

When I started out I didn't know the first thing about running a business.  Slowly, by trial and error, I’ve learned the ropes and figured out how to run my business  more efficiently and smoothly.  I started out selling in one shop locally and now sell my jewelry in 10+ shops and galleries around the country.  I’ve grown my online business as well, and that takes up a lot of my time these days.  I’ve created systems to streamline my production, packaging and invoicing. And most importantly I’ve learned how to manage my time and structure my days, which I find to be one of the hardest parts of being your own boss.  I have so much more to learn and lots of big goals for Roots & Wings going forward, but it’s always good to look back and see how far I’ve come.

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?

One of the simultaneously fun and daunting things about being a small business owner is that you get to wear many different hats.  Besides the occasional help from friends or family  (thanks mom!) I manage all the different aspects of the business on my own, so this means on any given day I might send emails and organize to-do lists, sit down to make jewelry for a couple of hours, package orders to be shipped, and work on some aspect of advertising/publicity.  Each day is different, and while it can be exhausting, it always keeps things interesting.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

This time of year is my busiest season, so I’m working on inventory for upcoming holiday shows, editing photos to list new pieces in my Etsy shop, and generally running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything done in advance of Christmas.  I love this time of year though, and it’s fun to be able to create gifts for peoples loved ones and add a little sparkle and beauty to their lives. 


WANT TO SEE MORE OF ASHLEY?

Head on over to her Esty shop HERE 

*****She's got a Holiday SALE happening 12/1-12/10 Take 20% off your order with the Coupon Code TisTheSeason.******


She also has a holiday Open Studio at her home Sat. 12/5, 12:00-6:00pm
and she will be at the Astoria Winter Market Dec. 11, 12, and 13 at Pier 11

You can also check out her website HERE

8 comments:

Jan Priddy, Oregon said...

Proud to see two former students supporting one another and living their art.

Sue Marrazzo said...

What a GREAT post! AWESOME!

infopantanganasamurat said...

wah your room is filled with cute accessories. if you like to collect accessories? I jga menyukianya .. you're very pretty to use accessories that ... thank you for sharing your story.
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Jaya Permana said...

You and I both have in common is often inspired by the stories of others . And what makes us equal is that I was more inspired to pursue a dream
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infopantanganasamurat said...

congratulations, may build your studio running smoothly. and you're so full of inspiring stories. Good luck to open the job ... GBU

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fazal ameen said...

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sirking said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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