Since starting my website a year and a half ago, I have joined many social networking sites, where I have met some fabulous ladies. One in particular is Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery. Upon "meeting" her, she was so warm and welcoming, ready to give advice and share experiences. She is an extremely talented designer and busy mom, but she always has time to do her blog postings, greet new members on the sites she belongs, and leave comments for me on my blog, which I love! I wanted to interview Annette to find out a little bit more about her and her business. This is what she had to say:
Name: Annette Piper
Business Name: Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery
Where are you located: Coolah, NSW, Australia
What is your favorite part of the design process: Putting two things together and realising it could look fabulous and then those spectacular end results - knowing that someone will LOVE the piece I've just made enough to want to purchase it.
How did your business begin: I qualified as a gemmologist in the 1980s and worked in the jewellery trade in Sydney, so had a good working knowledge of tool use, had seen the design process from concept to finished product, had a good eye for colour and display and a lot of retail experience. I have always felt an affinity for gemstones and pearls so when I made a few little bracelets and necklaces for my (then) toddler daughters out of wood and glass, I thought that I would really like to make jewellery that was all about the stones rather than about the metal. So I let the stones take the lead in design. Everybody who I showed them to loved them and quite a few bought them. As I enjoyed the creation process so much I continued on with it and it grew from there.
Who or what inspires you: The gemstones themselves - their patterns, shading, colours. Occasionally fabrics, flowers and scenery help inspire a combination. I also find images of Audrey Hepburn inspiring - such class, elegance and style, all simple yet so beautiful.
When do you find time to create having 3 active children: All my children are at school so most days I can spend designing/ creating/ photographing / networking / researching / plus all the boring stuff! I also get a lot done late at night when everyone has gone to bed and the house is quiet, the phone doesn't ring and the emails slow down.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not creating: Reading- predominately fantasy, fiction and classic literature. I'm not much of a factual reader - whilst interesting, it makes me yawn and ultimately I'll nod off. I used to enjoy cooking and a little bit of gardening but jewellery has taken over these areas in the enjoyment factor. I also really enjoy selling my work - I'm very much a people person and love to get out there and share my enthusiasm for gemstones.
What advice would you give other indie artists who are just starting out: Do something that you have experience with and a talent for. Refine your skills before selling - it's a quick way to lose your reputation if you sell a product that is of inferior craftsmanship. Identify your market and then go and find them - don't think they are going to come to you! Be prepared to travel to your target market if they are not nearby or find alternate ways to sell to them.
What is the secret to your success: High quality stones and craftsmanship, extremely rigid quality control, full guarantee of my product, excellence in customer service and going an unexpected step further for the customer, not promising something I can't deliver.
Favorite food: chocolate *guilt*, creamy sauces *guilt*, berries *no guilt > :D
Favorite music: swing, lighter styles of jazz, acoustic guitar, some traditional folk (Irish/Scottish) and 'show tunes' (just ask my long suffering children and husband about the latter.... yes I break into song for no apparent reason)!
I want to thank Annette for taking the time to answer my questions. It's obvious she has a passion for what she does, and it definitly shows! Just look at those gorgeous pieces! She also had some great advice for us as artists just starting out. Continued success with everything Annette!