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STYLIN' SUNDAY...

A PEEK INTO THE MINDS OF ARTISTS WHO CREATE WTH BEADS-OF-CLAY...

As promised, I am back in full swing with Jewelry Designer Lori Anderson.  Lori has been at this jewelry making gig for quite some time now.  In her earlier days, she started out as a linguist in the Air Force, went to college to become a doctor, ended up working in the dot.com explosion, and fell into the world of beads while she was pregnant!  Lori is  the mother of a seven-year old boy and makes jewelry as a full-time job, and sells both on www.lorianderson.net and at craft shows  If you are interested in knowing more about Lori, there’s a more detailed story at www.lorianderson.net/about.

I have noticed from some of your blog posts that you are switching over to a new website.  Could you tell us a little more about that? 

I just launched the new web site last week!  I wanted to rebrand myself now that I’ve found a comfortable place in my jewelry-making career, so I hired a development team to make it happen.  The site is www.lorianderson.net.

Many, many people wonder (including me) if selling from your own website is a better investment than selling from a site where there is a middle man/woman.  What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of both? 

Good question.  I immediately made my own web site with FrontPage when I first decided to do craft shows.  At craft shows, I started an newsletter sign up list (as well as a traditional postcard mailing list), and I started keeping in touch with past customers by sending out a regular newsletter with announcements of new jewelry, sales, and such.  Over the past five or six years, that list has grown exponentially, so I’m kept busy with my own web site.  I did try Etsy, and use it to sell a few beads, but found that I’d already created a presence with my own web site.  However, regardless of where you sell, asking customers if they’d like to receive updates of your shows and your sales will help build repeat customers.

I also read that you are coming out with some new jewelry designs. How so?

I’ve been pushing myself by starting a new venture on my blog called “Cup of Bead Soup” – this is where I pay a bead maker to send me beads or pendants, sight unseen, to me, and I am tasked with creating something out of them. Since I didn’t have a hand in choosing the beads, it’s really helped me expand my horizons. I’ve also been learning lampworking and have taken some classes in metal working with Tracy Stanley that will start cropping up in future designs.

You told me recently that ceramic beads are something that you are beginning to use more of, what are your thoughts about that so far? 

I love them and am certainly addicted! The month of September my Cup of Bead Soup challenge was with the ceramic artist Spirited Earth, and I was thrilled with how her pieces pushed me creatively.  I’m also in the process of lining up another ceramic artist for the month of January – but you’ll see a lot more ceramic in the pieces on my web site between now and then!  The glazes and the unique patterns really captivate me.

I notice a variety of color in you styles. Are there particular colors that you gravitate to more than others and why do you think that is?

I love vibrant colors but am also a sucker for pastels. I have to push myself harder to work in earth tones. I think the brights and pastels just make me feel cheerful!

I'm asking this question often. Many people who have Etsy shops were greatly effected by the recession that our Country experienced. Was your business effected and as well and have you seen a change in that over the past 6 months or so?

Fiscally, not that much. However, I also had built a strong client base before the recession. I’ve noticed that there are fewer impulse buys, but what IS being bought are the more expensive items. The thought seems to be, “if I can only have one thing, that one thing must have value”, and the customer examines it carefully to make sure it’s a quality piece. So where once I saw lots and lots of earrings being purchased along with the bracelets and necklaces, now I’m seeing that same customer buy one more expensive necklace with gemstones or lampwork. This year, though, things seem to be bouncing back.


I see that you have an adorable young son.  How do you manage to juggle both being a Mom and running a business at the same time? 

I’m a mom first.  I don’t make jewelry when he’s home from school, choosing to play games with him and help him with his homework.  I do take some time to catch up on blogging and paperwork while he hangs out with dad, and then at night we read together.  I make jewelry while he’s at school, and on occasional weekends when the two guys go off to the farm to give me an entire weekend to catch up.  I used to work a lot after he went to sleep, but now I have eye migraines and can’t see colors that clearly at night.

Are there others venues that you sell through besides online?  Please explain.

 I have one gallery in a nearby resort town that carries some of my fiber jewelry (which I don’t carry on my web site).  It’s an awesome place that is half gallery, half designer yarn store, so it’s a great fit.  Other than that, all of my sales are via my web site and craft shows in Virginia and Maryland.  I used to travel as far as Connecticut but I’ve cut back on that now that web sales have picked up quite a bit.

 Lastly, if there is something that you would like to share with our blog readers, please do so.

We could always use a little inspiration. I think having a blog has been a huge help to my business. Not only is it a great venue to show jewelry (my most expensive piece to date sold off my blog), but it’s also a way for customers to get to know you and feel more comfortable with who they’re spending their money. At shows, I have customers who come up to me and tell me they read a book I recommended, or ask me how my son is, or laugh over a funny story and give me one of their own.

Another tip for those who do craft shows is to constantly smile, even if the show isn’t going well. Smiling is contagious, especially if all the other vendors are frowning over the cruddy show!


Thank-you Lori!  You can also find Lori at the following links.
 

5 comments:

  1. I love Lori's work. It always feels so light and happy. Great interview. Love hearing about Lori's experience with marketing and her own website. Things I've been wondering about myself.

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  2. Lori's work is very lovely - thanks for sharing more about her as an artist.

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  3. I know Lori from the Bead Soup Party and now I am getting to know her as a designer with ceramic artists' beads. I love this new work. Of course I am partial to ceramic beads. But I do think Lori has enhanced every bead she worked with. Wonderful interview. And Lori's great energy and creative spark shines through so well. Thanks MaryAnn.

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  4. Very fun - I love Lori's creative style and choices of beads and elements. A very outside the chain thinker/designer. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Great ideas on inspiration...as a clay and jewelry designer...I am always looking for inspiration. I would love to share some of my pieces with you....to see your ideas!

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