I discovered Theresa's work through Instagram and I instantly fell in love with her work. Theresa is the designer and metalsmith behind Mineralogy. For this Cautiously Created series, I asked Theresa to answer a few questions. Below are her answers.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:
Hi there, I am the designer/metalsmith behind Mineralogy. I've been making jewelry for the last 4 years and loving every struggle and every victory. I live with my husband Ales and ALL of my studio equipment in our apartment in Chicago's Old Irving Park neighborhood. Luckily for us, my studio has outgrown our home and we're about to have much more space and peace and quiet!
HOW DID MINERALOGY COME ABOUT?:
My business began in an unintentional way originally. In my senior year of art school, I had an accessories class where I made jewelry for one of the projects and ended up doing a fun collaboration with one of the fashion students for their final garments for the school fashion show. My jewelry, a combination of wire, fabric, and stones, caught the eye of one of my professors who designed clothing and owned a small boutique in town and she began carrying my work. It wasn't until I was sitting through an earth science lecture on minerals, that I was suddenly aware of my interest in the raw minerals and their unique shapes and textures. From that point, the focus of my work became much more specific and centered around raw minerals. I began studying metalsmithing and it was the skill that I needed to create the work that I was dreaming about. My work now still speaks true to the raw materials I love, but I have included faceted stones in the mix, along with rustic rose cut diamonds, and other high grade gemstones for my fine jewelry collection.
DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL DAY:
I wake up and go straight to my french press to make myself coffee. I try to get to the gym, which doesn't happen enough, haha! From there, I look at my to-do list to collect my mind for the day, begin answering emails, and try to get any office chores out of the way that I don't want to do. Then, I look at my production queue to see what I have on deck for the day and begin working. I never really have one of those days that artists just dream of where you crank out production work all day without interruption. Most of my jewelry making marathons are interrupted by answering emails throughout the day, sending pictures to clients for custom orders, quoting projects (I hate math), posting work on Instagram, looking at cute puppies on Instagram, packaging orders, going to the post office, pricing and posting new work, and unfortunately bookkeeping.
DESCRIBE ONE CHALLENGE THAT YOU'VE FACED SINCE STARTING YOUR BUSINESS:
The most difficult thing I've had to deal with is the unsettling fact that you think you can do everything, but you can't. As a small business owner, we end up wearing so many hats and it's impossible to be perfect at everything, all the time. I need to be better about creating time for me and knowing when to put my computer or my projects away and be done for the day. Working 12 hours a day isn't going to ensure that you're constantly productive. I think this is something all creatives and small business owners struggle with!
DESCRIBE YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR:
I would have to say the best thing that's happened to me so far is the fact that I have my business. It's not always easy, but I am excited to start my day every morning because I truly love what I do. Just a few days ago, I signed the lease on a studio/storefront that I am hoping to have open by early summer. It's something that I never thought I would have the guts to do, but everything truly fell into place at the right moment and I couldn't walk away from the opportunity. I am so excited to be able to have my studio in a shop setting for people to watch me work and be able to understand how their jewelry is made. It will also be much easier for me to meet with my bridal clients to work on custom wedding rings instead of having to meet up at coffee shops:)
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?:
Be yourself first and foremost. Have a very strong idea of who you are and what you create and make sure that it stands out in your branding. Don't worry about fitting in to what particular style is current at the moment, just make what you love with such conviction that other people will love it to. There's no sense in trying to be like everyone else, when there's only one of you. Use your quirks to your advantage! Secondly, find a few good mentors, whether they are in the same field of interest as you or not. Some of my closest confidants are my jeweler friends. It's hard to find people like that in your own industry, but I am lucky to know a few good ones that I now count as friends. We trade information, vendors, ideas, seek advice and support from one another and respect each individual and their work.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?:
I am certainly inspired by my minerals. I love to draw and spend a lot of time sketching shapes and other ideas. Simple shapes, such as circles and arches are things that I really love. Besides my actual work/materials, I find my mom incredibly inspiring. She is a graphic designer, teaches various college courses, competes in triathlons, and puts everyone else before herself, no matter what. Without my mom's support, I don't think I would've had the determination to go to art school and to come out of it and begin a business that wasn't exactly what I studied in school. She is such an advocate for doing what you love and what you're good at and she never made me feel like I couldn't achieve what I set my heart to do. I feel pretty lucky to have an artist for a mother and for my dad to also support my artistic endeavors without fail.
WHAT'S ONE THING YOU CAN'T WORK WITHOUT?:
I definitely can't work without coffee and some good music or a podcast.
COFFEE, TEA OR NEITHER?:
Coffee, all day, every day.
AND JUST FOR FUN, WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE AND WHY?:
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. —Mother Teresa
I love this quote for business and for relationships. It's hard to make yourself vulnerable to others in a relationship, but that's how we open ourselves up to love and understanding in the human form. And for businesses, it's so important to offer that to our customers. They are the people that help support our dreams and our businesses being a reality...I want my customers to feel like they not only have a compete understanding of my work, but of myself as a person. There's no facade, just me over here in Chicago, making the best jewelry that I can for people.
A huge thank you to Theresa for being kind enough to answer a few questions for this series. If you're interested in learning more about Theresa and her beautiful creations, please head over to her website, etsy shop and be sure to follow her on Instagram.
*all photographs utilized in this blog post are property of ©Theresa Cowan of Mineralogy