Anyway, here's my entry:
I was your average tax CPA, until our family of four moved to Shanghai, China for two years for my husband’s job. The other wives (tai tai) got me interested in pearl jewelry. (The accountant in me saw a profit opportunity!) First I bought jewelry, then I would design it and have them make it, and finally I just started buying strands of pearls. By the time I returned to the states I had a whole bunch of pearls of all different shapes and sizes. First I learned how to string jewelry. I hoped to make enough money selling pearl jewelry to pay for my trips back to China. I named my business Shanghai Tai. Shanghai after the city that I miss every day. The tai character (太) means extreme, but when you put two together (太太) it means wife. To me, “tai tai” makes me think of the western taitai and the rather extravagant lifestyle that we had there. I hope that my jewelry can bring the wearer a little piece of that charmed exotic lifestyle.
Family portrait at Yu Yuan in Shanghai
I started selling at shows. After that I stumbled on fused glass and precious metal clay, becoming certified in metal clay in 2009. I have learned that my jewelry belongs at art shows, because it is too high end for festivals or craft shows.
Dichroic and freshwater pearl bracelet, 14KGF
After one particular show connected to a festival didn’t go so well I decided that booth fee would be better spent paying for a web site for one year. I have had my Artfire shop for just over a year now. I have been marketing through social networking: Facebook, Twitter and my blog. I also collect emails from my shows so I can notify customers of upcoming events. In addition I currently sell out of two galleries.
Etched dichroic glass pendant, sterling bail
I continue to improve and expand my skills. Up until now I have only done local shows, but it seems I may have outgrown most of them. I need to apply to some better shows. A couple months ago, after some discussion, my husband and I agreed that 2012 is going to be a year in which I back off somewhat from the local shows in order to prepare myself to get into better shows. (I would love to do the Des Moines Art Festival, for example.) However, jewelry is an extremely competitive market and before I can get in to better shows I need to be at the top of my game. This includes developing the following:
1. A cohesive body of work. (Once I figure out how to combine pearls, fused glass and metal clay I will have it! I think I’m getting close.)
2. A cohesive, attractive, functional display for my booth
3. Portable displays with glass counters (I have them picked out)
4. A good artist statement
5. A professional booth shot to submit with show entries
7. A more functional website
In addition, I need to learn how to drive more customers to my online store.
Cerulean Wave: dichroic glass and fine silver
Winning, or even placing in this contest would be a big help in reaching my 2012 goals. In the fall of 2012 I intend to start applying for regional/national 2013 shows. I don’t know if making 2012 my best year ever is realistic (except for my online shop), but I hope to make it the jumping off point to make 2013 and beyond my best years ever.