Cassie Mae's Jewelry Blog/News
Wow, I have been slacking on updates here! I've been dealing with some family issues recently and also some technical issues for my Etsy site. If you're interested in purchases and live in Minnesota, please inquire about them through my Facebook Page @CassieMaeJewelry and also stay updated on my shop status and new jewelry pieces that way as well! And/or you can follow me on Instagram @cassiemaejewelry!
Building a Body of Work
One way to never start a successful jewelry business is to not have anything to sell! Luckily that was pretty obvious to me and I’d been DYING to get creative again! Once I hit part time at my old job, I immediately started working on waxes to cast. I worked hard and as fast as I could to get a large enough quantity to head up north and spend a long weekend casting with my mother.
If you’re anything like anyone I know, you are probably curious as to my process for creating my waxes. Unfortunately I won’t be divulging ALL of my secret techniques, but I can tell you it’s a very organic process and one that I truly love doing. Once I finished enough pieces I headed up north to cast them. The casting process is actually very long and the heating in the kiln alone can take from 10 to 15 hours! Luckily it’s a great opportunity to catch up with my parents and enjoy the outdoors. I grew up on 160 acres of woods where the air is always fresh and clean smelling and on clear nights you can see more stars than you can imagine.
Once the pieces are all casted, it’s time to head back home and finish the designing process. When casted, multiple pieces are actually connected by sprues so I have to separate and clean them in order to continue creating the pieces. I actually wait until after I’ve casted to begin my designs for the wire work and the final decisions on whether the pieces become a pendant, ring, or bracelet. I tend to try to do the same step for each piece at about the same time. I do all of my design work, then I do all of the wirework for each design and then I finally start working on each piece, typically 3 to 5 pieces at a time. So far this has been the most productive process for me.
I do allow myself to be flexible though since you can’t control how and when inspiration will hit for every piece. Sometimes I have design days where I can create all of the designs in one day and sometimes it only works for a couple pieces and I’m left unsatisfied for others; so when this happens I take a break on the designing and start other work. Ultimately I figure you have to find what works best for you and how you can make the most out of the shortest amount of time. I kind of hate that it’s a necessity to have that time management, but I know that it is and hopefully it won’t hinder the magic of the process for you. I work hard and I work as much of the day as possible and luckily I still enjoy it. Whatever it is you do, if it’s jewelry or painting or whatever, I believe it’s important to be proud of your work and to love them. If you love them, then it’s probably a good possibility that others will too, even if it’s hard to let them go!
My goal was to have 15 pieces ready for sale in a month’s time. I worked hard and I achieved the goal, even though it was just barely! The important thing though was that I now had a body of work to sell and now I could work at getting it sold! I already had a website, but it badly needed to be updated and I also needed to get my pieces up on Etsy (I’ll be posting more about setting up an Etsy account soon). The works is never done one way or another, but if you don’t have a body of work you’re kind of stuck. So get working! J
Knowing When to Take the Leap
Hi everyone! Today I wanted to talk about the very beginning of this new adventure I’ve taken and about what inspired me to quit my well-paying job with benefits and take the leap into starting my own business!
As you may already know, I took a full time job in February 2015. While it was a job with great pay and benefits, I soon realized that it was not the right fit for me and for my dreams. It’s so easy to fall into the pressure of what you think everyone expects of you and what you think you’re “supposed” to do in life; and that’s exactly what happened to me when I took the position. I think this happens to a lot of people and honestly I’m not surprised. It is so hard to survive in this economy and keep up on student loans, paying for a car, rent and hell even food. It’s logical to feel like you have to take the first well-paying opportunity that comes along, whether you think you will enjoy the position or not.
It wasn’t long into the position when I started looking for other jobs. To be fair, I did give it my best and gave myself a few months before I made the decision that eventually I would be leaving. I applied and applied to other office jobs, and even had a good chunk of interviews. It was great practice, but I never got excited about the jobs after the interviews. Nothing really got me lit up; I would leave thinking that it could be a better fit than where I was and that was good enough for me at the moment. A few months into my search though, I got some great advice from my sister. She told me not to automatically take the first opportunity to come along; if I did I would be right back where I was in another few months. I needed to figure out what I wanted to do in my future, what I wanted as a career. My automatic answer was always that I wanted to do my jewelry as a business, but I always said it with a depressed heart because it was always alongside some other job and I didn’t know what that should be.
It finally hit me around the holidays when I was trying to figure out game plans for my future. I realized two major things: the first was that I was done with this job and I was determined to be out by the end of the year no matter what, and the second was that what I saw myself doing was my art and that’s what I wanted to do. So, I decided to work things out and see if this was actually a possibility. I’d been saving money and decided that I had enough to take the leap and if need be, I’d have a few months to get started while I looked for a part time job on the side that would help with bills. This was a huge decision for me and I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a bundle of nerves when I finally realized my decision was made.
The support from my friends and family was amazing. Even though I had known in my heart that this was the right decision, I was nervous how the people I loved and respected would react. I was actually shocked with the amount of positive responses when I shared my plans and it really helped put me at ease. I had people who believed in me, but most of all I knew I had to believe in myself for me to be successful. I had learned that it was ok for me to have everything I want, and that I achieve those desires.
I gave my notice in early December and stayed on part time for the rest of the year and a bit into the New Year to help train the new hire. I left on good terms with the company and started training for a part time job that I really enjoy.
This may surprise you, but I’m glad that I took the office job. Even though I was completely miserable for most of the year, it was an amazing learning experience and I also saved up enough money to be able to take the leap into starting my own business. The biggest step though was learning to allow myself to go for what I desired and believing that I could do it.
I’d like to thank all of my family and friends for all of their support and thank you to all of the Stratejoy Summer Camp ladies who’ve been so inspiring and that I’ve learned so much from. I couldn’t have made these steps without you!
I thought I would start this post by introducing myself and what I plan to write about here on Cassie Mae Jewelry.
Let me start out by saying my 2015 was a rough one. It started out all well and dandy, I was offered a full time job at a newspaper where I had been working part time and though I knew it wasn’t a career I wanted forever, I thought I’d give it a shot as it paid better than anything I’d done before and I enjoyed my part time gig there well enough. Well, that all changed rapidly when the company changed rapidly. I was suddenly stressed beyond belief, having been thrown into a position with no real training and many more responsibilities than I’d had previous. Along with that, I was now the only one in my department with no one to go to for questions! I have to say that I am proud of myself for getting through those first few months mostly unscathed. The problem was that the stress never got better, never went away. I felt my health dwindling. I ate only once a day and never took a break at work. I started clenching my jaw at night, to the point where I started seeking out only soft foods for sustenance because it hurt to chew anything else. I also get tension headaches easily ever since college so I had one Every. Single. Day. It was horrible, I was miserable, I was depressed, and my relationship was rocky because every time he tried to cheer my up, I didn’t have the energy or the heart to allow it to happen. I needed to be done, but I was so torn. It was a good paying job with benefits and it was what a typical person did. They went to their office job to pay the bills and survive in this world. I had to do that as well right? I couldn’t imagine being stuck there.
Then I went to summer camp with my sister. Yes, an adult women’s summer camp called Stratejoy and it was run but the lovely Molly Mahar. That vacation was the beginning steps to making the much needed changes my life! I won’t go into all of the details but it was an amazing week with amazing women and I came out of it with a lot more tools to figure out what I wanted in life and how to start getting it. The rest of the year I searched and searched for jobs, nothing that panned out and nothing I was super bummed that it didn’t. I realized I probably didn’t even want any sort of typical office job! It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized all the money I’d been saving up from this job could go towards sustaining me while I started my own business, a business built on my passion!
Now, I’d played with this idea for many years since college. In fact I had taken that part time gig at the newspaper in order to have the freedom and time to do my jewelry! This time I was really going to do it; I was going to stop being scared and step up and really go for it. I already had a store out of state interested in selling my work and found a part time job that could help with expenses and sounded fun to boot! I gave my notice to my employer and offered to stay on for longer than two weeks since I knew they needed it. I could do this, I needed to believe that I could!
I started my 2016 year with finishing up part time at my old newspaper job and focusing hard on my jewelry! I had spent a week up north at my parents casting and was now starting the designs and had a goal of finishing everything up to ship out to a store by the beginning of February. Unfortunately I found out towards the end of January that the store had to move location and so couldn’t take my work at the moment. I wasn’t worried though, shit happens and this meant that I could look into selling these pieces on my own!
This will be a documentation of my journey figuring out all things to do with starting a jewelry business, since I’m no expert on the subject. I had finally gotten to a point where I couldn’t wait anymore and had to just go for it and figure some things out as I go. I know this will be a wild ride full of ups and downs and twists and turns but I know it will be a great adventure! I hope you enjoy the ride with me and I promise to pass along some wisdom and whimsy along the way!
Thanks for reading!
Whew! Last show of the year is done today! I had a summer show at the Moose Lake Art in the Park in mid July this year, as well as a weekend at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and finally the craft show at Rosemount High School. I'm planning on doing at the very least the Moose Lake Art in the Park and a weekend or two at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in 2019. Keep more updated on my Facebook page @CassieMaeJewelry!
Can't wait for my first fall show coming up on September 17th and 18th! Come visit me! It's at Marine on St Croix, just a bit north of Stillwater, MN. It's their 43rd Annual Art Fair and my first time selling there. Here's hoping the weather is nice and people are looking for gifts! :-D