Let's learn a little more about Chris of Sihaya Designs Jewelry.
Tell us a little about the items in your shop. What do you make?
I make gemstone, wire, and mixed-media jewelry. I am inspired by all kinds of tales and fancies-- my inspirations run the gamut from mythology to faerie lore to naturalism to steampunk. When I began my store, I almost exclusively did bead and wire jewelry, but have been expanding my jewelry repertoire with work in resin, metal stamping, forged elements, and soon, metal etching. I adore the handcrafted, one-of-a-kind look of mixed-media and collage jewelry, so I'll be expanding my work in that arena.
What is your creative process?
For the most part, I let my materials guide me in what they would like to become. My daily process is to lay out all of my bead containers, choose a focal bead or beads from a specific colorway, and then go from there. Usually the gemstone or focal will speak to me and things will come together rather organically. It's only been fairly recently that I've begun to sketch down ideas for things I'd like to do. It's helpful, but sometimes the finished product looks nothing like my original sketch notes! I also have a folder of saved clippings and photos that I use for color inspirations-- flowers, autumn leaves, vintage ephemera. But the most important part of my creative process? Tea. Tea is the magic spark that makes the creativity happen.
Which Etsy Teams do you belong to?
I am currently a member of TeamBPAL & the Pagans of Etsy Street Team. There's also an up-and coming Resin team being formed of which I anticipate being a member. It has not yet been approved by Etsy yet, but should be ready to go live soon!
When you are not creating things, what do you do?
When I'm not creating things, I'm helping other people create things. I work a few days each week at Terra Firma, my local bead and metals shop. I count silver, I help customers design their projects, I create sample projects for our customers, and I field questions about metals and stones. It's been such a great resource for me and I've learned so much in the short time I've worked there. But when I'm not in jewelry mode, I'm usually snuggling one of my three kitties or relaxing with my husband, Jason.
Tell us two random, interesting things about you.
-- I have been a tribal bellydancer for four years now, and I dance as one half of Verve Tribal, a professional ATS-inspired improv tribal troupe in the Baltimore/ Washington DC area.
-- Right now, I have fuchsia hair. My friend Maggie jokes that she always knows when it's spring because that's when my hair is pink!
What has been your proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?
I think my proudest moment is one that re-occurs every time when a customer emails me to tell me how pleased they are with their jewels. It makes me feel so fulfilled that what I love to do makes other people feel happy and beautiful.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Work on your photography! My views and sales increased exponentially when I started paying more attention to my presentation-- shooting in natural light, reflecting accurate colors of the gems, and displaying my pieces in a pleasing way. Also, never under-estimate the power of a simple and sincere "thank you for choosing my shop" in every package you send out. Your customers are the ones who put the food in your fridge-- don't forget show gratitude for that! Happy customers are repeat customers, and repeat customers are the foundation of a successful Etsy shop.
What handmade possession do you cherish?
My wooden athame, which was hand-carved by my dear friend, Bridget, and inscribed with my three personal runes.
If you could have any item on Etsy regardless of price, what would it be?
I am positively drooling over this leather choker. I have a leather corset it would match PERFECTLY. Droooool!
What other skill or talent do you wish you could possess, if you had not taken this creative path?
I have always, always wished I could play the piano. I could only get through Piano III in school; my hands are simply too small to reach beyond a seventh!
Where can we find you on the web?
Sihaya Designs Blog: http://sihayadesigns.blogspot.com
Web portal: http://www.sihayadesigns.com
Thanks for the interview, Chris! Have a great weekend, everyone! We'll return in two weeks with another spotlight.