Friday, June 4, 2010
Ginger Wagner is the creative designer and shop owner of MsBelle on Etsy. She designs handmade artisan crafted jewelry, using high quality gemstone briolettes, pearls, silver & gold. When you first see her jewelry, you can't help but be impressed by the clean, simple and classic lines that let the beauty of the stones shine through. Also, as a seller, you get a bit overwhelmed and impressed when you see the Etsy sales in her shop!
She recently took some time and answered some questions so we could get to know this CrownTown Member Artist a bit better.
CTHm:How long have you been making jewelry?
I began making jewelry in the late 1990s after I discovered pre-notched prong settings. Since I already had a faceted gemstone collection and had been wanting to make a piece of jewelry for myself, I purchased a setting and set my own stone for a pendant which I still have and wear. That opened to the door to exploring other types of handmade jewelry. Soon I was making jewelry for friends and family. I opened a shop on Etsy and have been selling wire wrapped jewelry there since 2006.
CTHm:Where did the name “MsBelle” come from?
When I was in college, a boyfriend began calling me Ms. Belle due to my southern accent. It sort of stuck. When it came time to pick a user name on Etsy, I thought of that. So my shop name became MsBelle as a result.
CTHm:Where do you draw your inspiration?
Ideas come from all around, but they mainly come from my favorite medium: gemstones. They provide such a diverse palette of color, variety, texture, form and shape, leading to limitless opportunities for creating. But ideas can spring from most anything. Nature provides us ample inspiration in the form of trees, flowers, the sunset, etc. Mother Nature has some great color palettes! Sometimes items just sitting piled up next to each other on my workspace provide inspiration. I'm often surprised by what is right in front of me. And customers can be a great inspiration too. Often times their ideas lead to new ways of looking at things, allowing you to be able to imagine something in a totally different way. So inspiration comes from everywhere.
CTHm:What types of crafty things do you enjoy doing other than making jewelry?
I used to cross-stitch quite a bit and enjoyed that. I've also made wooden crafts, primitive crafts, picture frames, soy wax tart melts, salt dough ornaments and a few other things. But jewelry is my favorite and everything else sort of went by the wayside. I love gemstones and jewelry so much that making jewelry now takes the top spot.
CTHm:Why do you feel that it's important to buy handmade?
Buying handmade supports people who are dedicated to their craft and love what they do. They usually turn out higher quality pieces than you will ever find in any super store near you. Artisans often work day and night on their craft, probably including your piece. They put a little bit of their heart and soul into everything they create. I like knowing that when you support handmade, you help support someone who cares deeply about their product and I would hope someone would like to support that in me.
CTHm:What advice do you have for other artists to make the most of their online shopping presence?
Gosh, I'm no expert when it comes to that and could probably use some advice myself! I suppose what I would say is given the various social media outlets that are available (blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), try to get yourself on one or more and make yourself seen and heard. Make connections. Friends can be very supportive and help spread the word about your work as well. It's very helpful to also be supportive and complimentary of others. It's a two way street. First and foremost though, make sure you have a quality product and provide the best customer service you possibly can. Treat your customers as you want to be treated. You can form some great relationships with some of your best customers that may eventually turn into friendships as well. There are numerous other outlets to gain exposure such as advertising on blogs, Facebook ads, promotional giveaways. The opportunities are out there. You just have to figure out what works best for you.
CTHm:What is a typical day like for you?
It's typical for most people I'd say. I get up, feed Barney (our dachshund), and then get my son fed, make his lunch and get him ready for school. My husband takes him to school on his way to work. After he's gone, I shower, eat my breakfast and have a cup of coffee (or two or three). Then I do my Wii fit which is so much fun. I then go check emails, check my Etsy shop, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. If I need to attend to any shipping, I get the packages ready as well. Then it's on to the domestic duties such as dishes, picking up toys, etc., after which I sometimes either make jewelry, or photograph or edit photos of pieces that have already been made. (This is when I usually end up spending way too much time talking to my friends online though, but they help keep me sane!) Before you know it, lunch time rolls around and not long after that it's time to go pick up the boy. Afternoons are spent helping with homework, running errands or going to appointments, or maybe a trip to the park. Then it's back home for supper. We often watch a favorite TV show or movie and then it's bedtime. After everyone else is asleep, I go back on the computer or return to making jewelry or editing photographs, listing items on Etsy, etc. I usually end up going to bed around midnight, sometimes later. And then it begins again!
at 11:26 AM