Thanks to Devin Prather for compiling this interview with Kimberly Ries of Creative Eye Studio! This feature was previously posted at the Bluegrass Etsy Facebook page.
How did you first hear about etsy?
I first learned about etsy from an article that was in the Courier Journal. I tore out the article and it stayed on my desk for a long time! I started a shop in June 2008 but didn't list anything for awhile. I was finishing my bachelors degree in marketing around that time, so my focus was elsewhere. I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions before I opened my shop.
Tell us about a little about yourself and your favorite craft/art!
I live in Louisville and have lived here all my life. I always loved art growing up, although the perfectionist in me interfered with my ability to be creative. My mom tells stories of me working on a drawing, only to eventually tear it up in frustration. I took painting and drawing classes in high school and college but didn't stick with it. Back in the late 90's I was inspired by a creative friend who encouraged me to unleash my creativity. I began taking photos, and Cave Hill cemetery was the perfect place to practice photography. I began rubber stamping and made greeting cards and small scale collages. As with most creative types, I dabbled in lots of different things! Several years ago my coworker talked me into a beading class at a local shop and we both became hooked. My focus for the past three years has been on jewelry, although I still incorporate rubber stamping into the packaging for my jewelry. My husband recently created an art studio for me in our basement so now I have the perfect place to dabble, whether it be making stamped cards, playing around with photos or creating jewelry.
I admire and respect all art forms. I am a big fan of buying handmade and even more so, buying local. I love shopping for pottery, stained glass, felted items, etc. They make wonderful gifts for family and friends.
How did you get started as a designer?
Years ago a close friend helped me stretch and think outside my very narrow box! It really changed things for me and boosted my confidence at the same time. That has stuck with me over the years. Feeling confident in your abilities and validated as an artist or crafter is a great shot in the arm. I try to help others with this and encourage them as well.
What inspires you to create?
I am inspired by colors! It's fun to see what the "in" colors are each season. I like combining colors and textures. Love the bumpy lampwork beads that result in some funky creations.
I suppose I am mostly inspired by nature. I love things with leaves, flowers or a natural organic feel to them. I love using gemstones that reflect colors found in nature, like rhyolite, harmony jasper (peace jade), unakite, autumn jasper, etc. I also love textured, hammered metals and found sea glass.
My husband and I enjoy hiking and I enjoy spotting things in nature that might go unnoticed. My mind is always looking for the perfect photo!
How long have you been a member of Bluegrass etsy and how did you hear about the team?
I was on an etsy team that focused on marketing but the members were all over the map and in different time zones. I knew I would never meet them. I looked for a local team and was happy to see that Kentucky had formed a team. I joined in September of 2008. The friendships I have formed are so important to me. And getting everyone together for our first Meet and Greet was so much fun. Now we are splitting booths at various local shows and we are getting to know each other very well. I have found that we all have our strengths that we can share with others. It's what makes Team Bluegrass a GREAT team!
6)Any advice you would give to aspiring designers?
Love what you do! Your passion will show through and people will be drawn to your enthusiasm.
Find your niche! Especially if you are in a highly competitive, saturated market like jewelry making. It helps to have that special something that makes your work stand out.
If you are setting up at a show, interact with your potential customers. Look up and smile. Say hello. I have passed by booths when I don't get them to look up, or if they are too busy reading a newspaper or talking on a cell phone. I have also passed by booths where the seller looks unhappy or puts off a negative vibe. Put on your happy face.
Follow through on the details and remember how important presentation is. The way you package your creations can make all the difference in the perceived value. A recent post at etsy suggests that naming your creations and having an interesting story to go along with it, can result in a higher perceived value. I take care in packing my jewelry in an attractive box with ribbon when shipping etsy orders. And I always include a business card, and a handwritten note thanking them for their order. I let the buyer know when their order has shipped. Taking that extra step can set you apart from the competition and result in a repeat customer. Remember, it's all in the details!
If you ever get discouraged, find a mentor or someone that can help encourage you along the way. Ask for a shop critique. Get advice from others, join a team, etc. Don't give up!
Check out the jewelry in Kim's Creative Eye Studio shop at etsy.
Thanks Devin for this interview!
If you are a BEST team member and would like to be featured in an upcoming Feature Friday, please contact Kim Ries or Devin Prather.