For today’s interview, please welcome Jeanne Costello from The Passionate Pearl.
1. Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you are based, for example in which country and part of that country? I am from France and have been involved in Arts and Crafts my whole life. I married an American artist. I have been involved in diverse medias, from Painting on Silk to Porcelain Pottery. I started getting serious with jewelry in the 70’s in the South of France when I worked for 2 years with Denis an accomplished Silversmith. He was very patient with me as I was just out of Art School. I learned every technique I use today from him. I now live in Freeport, ME after having lived in different parts of the US since 1975. It’s beautiful countryside here.
2. Please tell us a little about the nature of your craft/design based business. The Passionate Pearl Jewelry is handmade by me in Sterling Silver mostly but also with 14K Gold Filled. I use hand picked Freshwater Pearls and Semi Precious Stones in my Designs. I love combining Silver and Gold together and also Pearls and Stones to make them into a work of art.
3. How did the idea for your business come about? I started to make jewelry again as I was looking for earrings to match a pendant and couldn’t find them. I ended up buying supplies at the craft store and made them myself. I so enjoyed doing this again that I ended up making earrings for all my friends, then I started selling them. This turned into a full time job eventually about three years ago when I started my Etsy Shop.
4. How long now have you been established? Since 2006
5. How do you decide what to make, and how do you come up with your great ideas? Creativity comes and goes. There are times when all I do is update my Etsy shop with new photos, keywords, titles etc. When I am in a creative mode, It might last a week or 2 and then it’s photography time. It might take a few days to create a design. I get inspired by things I see online, or watching a movie. I can also be at a restaurant or store and see someone wearing an amazing necklace and you will find me staring at them as I try to figure out how I could make something similar.
Right now my biggest seller is a Gold and Silver Necklace. It’s a necklace with a real meaning, about holding hands and relying on each other for support. We can’t do life alone! I am a Christian and have a strong faith. I was faced in my mid 30’s with an impossible situation in my personal life and it brought me to God. I would have never made it through without him.
6. Do you undertake your business on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? I do this full time and really enjoy my business. I have learned so much in the past few years. My husband is an accomplished artist and we have lived together 43 years so we bounce things off each other and it’s a great help. I come from a large family of artists also. Art is just part of being alive for me. My mom painted until she was 88.
7. Tell us a little about your typical day and what is involved in running the business? My typical day involves everything a business owner does except sweeping the floor. I am the Boss, Artist, Investor, Employee, Quality Control, Marketing Agent, Purchasing Manager, Customer Service, Product Design, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Publicist, Packer, maybe that is why Handmade might cost more!
8. What advice would you give to others who are considering running a craft based business? I would say be patient with yourself. Be willing to fail, pick up where you left off and start again. I am really grateful for Etsy as they have such a wonderful thing going. They are a huge company with Handmade Crafts from all over the world now. A lot of stuff in my opinion should not be accepted as handmade as it is made in huge quantities in places like China and India. It makes my Jewelry Business very difficult as it is sometimes impossible to compete pricewise with large outfits like that. I have seen sterling silver earrings with freshwater pearls sold for $9.00 on Etsy…there is no way an artisan can sell it for that price – that’s the price supplies would cost to make these earrings. The most important thing to me is to offer a high quality product, made as well as I can make it. If I change a little thing in the design because these supplies are no longer available, I take another photo so my customer doesn’t get something else than what they ordered. All customers have to go by, are the product description and the photos – they can’t touch the product.
9. As this is Art of Crafts I have to ask, do you enjoy any crafts yourself in your spare time? If so, please tell us more. I love photography even though I was never trained to use a camera. If you know me I do not go anywhere in nature without a camera. I live in beautiful Maine and it’s always very inspiring around here. I also love knitting and cooking. I am French so cooking on the fly is in my blood.
10. Finally, if people want to learn more about your business/website do you have a web address, Facebook page or Twitter profile where they can find out more ?
About.me : http://about.me/jeanne.costello
Google +: http://plus.google.com/118167682496197420016/posts?hl=en