A little vintage, a little bohemian...all eco cool. That's how Jo DeSerio Jones describes her boutique and we agree. Jo doesn't just design jewelry, she rescues her raw materials and gives them a new life before placing them in a good home with customers far and wide.
Now here she is to tell us all a little more about her art and her business.
Recycling is a large part of your work. Can you talk about why or how that came to be?
I'm an environmentalist so I find it important to reuse as much as possible, but I also love the challenge it brings. When I was a kid my father always gave me remnants and odd scrap items to make into things. I'd have to say that's probably where it started and it hasn't stopped.
Where do your materials come from?
My materials come from many places including nature, parking lots, thrift stores, broken power tools, etc. I even have friends on the lookout for cool discarded items for me.
Is there a favorite or a most unusual item you’ve reclaimed for a piece?
Currently my favorite piece is a sterling silver leaf I cast from an imprint I reclaimed from a concrete sidewalk!
From artist to business woman
When and how did you make the decision to start selling your work?
I decided to start selling my work about 7 years ago when I had made more pieces than I could wear! I also had a lot of encouragement from my friends telling me it was time.
It appears that you sell both online and off. What are the pros and cons of each?
There are definitely pros and cons to both. Online pros are that you have the ability to reach out across the world to an incredible market. The cons are finding and actually reaching that market.
Offline pros, people can see and feel your work which is very important. The cons are that you have a much smaller market, you have to be present at art/craft shows which takes up your time, or have boutiques represent you which also takes time and part of your profits.
Many artisans are afraid to start selling their work for a number of reasons – the biggest one being they’re afraid it won’t sell. What advice do you have for those who are afraid to take the next step?
Do it! You don't want to live with "what if". You have to put yourself out there and you can't be afraid of rejection. Not everyone is going to love your work, but what about the ones that do? I'm a big believer in going after things. Nothing ventured nothing gained!
Pricing is another sticking point for new sellers. You have items that go from under $30 to nearly $500 dollars. What’s your thought process for pricing?
I started off selling my work at craft fairs and priced accordingly. As my skills progressed and my work matured I started selling through boutiques, which have a higher price structure. Not wanting to lose my original followers I've tried to continue to have a few items in that range.
The higher priced items you mentioned are sculptures that were made for a gallery exhibition I'm participating in. I think it's good to have different price points for different consumers while still delivering your touch and quality.
What kind of marketing do you do, online or off?
Online I do a lot of social media; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for building customers and LinkedIn for business connections. I try to photograph most of my work and show snapshots to keep people informed about my latest pieces.
Offline I do local art events where I meet and interact with many people. I also always wear my jewelry out and about. When someone compliments a piece I let them know I made it.
How do you balance running a business with being an artist?
As much as I want to just make things all the time, you have to set aside time for business as well. Many artists don't have business sense so I feel fortune to have both. To stay on track I started putting pop up reminders in my calendar allotting time for different tasks and it's been working out very well for me.
Living the eco-life
Your bio says your artwork is an extension of your “lifestyle and a result of my upbringing, experiences and travels.” Tell us more.
Yes, my lifestyle is about recycling and reusing as much as possible, as well as using eco friendly products. My father used coffee cans to store nails out of necessity and turned soda cans in to airplanes for fun. I continue in his path. I love to travel and love to learn about different cultures, and I usually bring home collected objects to incorporate into my work.
Finally, if you have a story to tell about your work, an experience, life in general; funny, emotional, exciting – we’d love to hear it.
One funny story that happened a few years back. I went to Artfest which was a retreat held in Port Townsend, Washington, a few hours from Seattle. You can imagine the beauty I was surrounded by, so each afternoon I would beachcomb looking for things to use in my jewelry. Dragging my 30 pound carry on through the airport, security pulls me aside (which happens to me all the time). Puzzled, the security agent asks "what do you have in here?". I tell him I've been beachcombing and he asks, "did you leave anything for anyone else?"!
As far as life, I always say that I must have been a chicken in a former life because I spend a lot of time looking at the ground :)
Need some artistic or business inspiration? You'll find them both at Jomama.