Monday, August 27, 2012

Joan's Gems

Recently, I vended at a show in Denton, MD called Shop Hop. It was an interesting show to say the least. You had everything from quilts to pottery and home made treats to wood carvings. It was a lot of fun. If you are familiar with the items I make you are more than likely wondering why I was at a place that seemed to attract more "Country Living" type folks as opposed to my usual rocker/horror nut/Baltimore crowd. One word: Grandma. Yes, I vended a show with my Grams. The show wasn't a total bust like some I've been to. At this one I spent time with my Grandma, made some gas money, got my diet coke fix, and met an awesome lady named Joan. Joan is a super cool, laid back kinda gal who makes amazing jewelry! I have kept in contact with her since the show and she was nice enough to answer a few questions so that my readers could get to know this awesome artist a bit better!


So here is some info about Joan:

My name is Joan Nubie and I live in Cambridge, MD. I work full time at my jewelry making and wire art -Joan's Gems.

1. How long have you been making jewelry? How did you get into making jewelry?

 I started making jewelry in 2001 as a way to pass the time as we were cruising and living aboard on our sailboat. I showed some of the earrings I made to some friends and through their praise and encouragement I signed up for my first show. I successfully sold some items and was very excited to make more and more so I jumped in and bought supplies for my next show and starting making what I call my wire art - ornaments, bubble wands, book marks, key chains, barrettes, etc. Sometimes when we look into the room in our house that I use as my studio, full of boxes of beads and supplies and tables covered in projects we look back at my humble beginnings on our boat when I had a few tools and a drawstring bag of beads and its hard to imagine the start of it all. There was a lot less room to work on the boat!

2. How long have you been selling on Etsy? and what do you think makes Etsy stand out as a website for crafters and artists above other sites?

Even though I started making jewelry in 2001, I started my first website in 2004 until I found Etsy in 2009. My own website was expensive and time-consuming to build and keep up. I love Etsy for the value and the tools they provide. It stands out because of the community and support that it has. When I had my own website I had to work hard to be found in search engines and place expensive pay-per-click ads. The community and network in Etsy helps with promoting your work, but you do get out of it what you put into it! You need to spend some time networking on Etsy and building Treasuries and circles to be a bigger part of the community. That's the biggest challenge for me - to find the time for promoting my work on Etsy in this busy work-a-day world. I have to schedule time to even post listings.

3. What item currently for sale in your Etsy shop is your favorite? Why? Please include a link to this item so I can show a picture.

My favorite item on my Etsy page is some new jewelry I just made using a 1935 Monopoly game. Here is a link to the Boardwalk Necklace 

I made matching Park Place earrings too. I've had a lot of fun with that one game and more to come! My bubble wands are probably my best seller on my site. I'm always glad to sell them for kids - young and old!

4. Every year the DIY Arts and Crafts Movement continues to grow. Do you think this will have a positive or negative effect on your business? Why? What struggles have you encountered with your business? How did you deal with them?

Yes, the Arts and Crafts movement continues to grow. I also panic that this will hurt me because jewelry making is one of the most popular categories to start with. Seems like the shows I do have more and more jewelry competition and I always worry that there might not be enough pieces of the pie to go around. Sometimes I just have to take a deep breath and remind myself of my customer following and have confidence that my work will shine through. So that answers the question about the crafts movement and it is also one of the struggles I encounter with my business. How to succeed with all the competition and stay fresh and constantly work to come up with new pieces.

5. Are you working on anything new that you would like to share?

As far as new things I'd like to share, mostly I have worked to branch out in more gift shops and galleries. I was in 2 last year and now I am in 4. The Treasure Chest in Oxford, The Dorchester Arts Center, The Sunnyside Shop in Cambridge and the Witte Gallery in Easton. I also have something really big I'm working on but its still in the works so I can't share it right now. I'd love to tell the world about it, so I'll let you know when I can. No, sorry its not Oprah or QVC!

6. Where would you like to see your business go in the next 5 years? What is your next step?

Oh, I always hate these questions about where will you be 5-10 years from now. I work so hard to keep up with the present! I'm always envious when I see artist friends who are successful selling to shops regionally or even nation wide. I would hope to be in more outlets to be able to work smarter and have more outlets selling for me. I always swear I'm going to spend more time building my Etsy site too, spending more time to build up a following and sales, so I'd like to accomplish at least that! My Etsy page offers just a sampling of the work I do, so I want to work to make more well-rounded and a better representation of my work.

7. What advice would you give to someone that is new to selling handmade items on Etsy?

For new people selling on Etsy, well, you have to figure out a way to be different from all the other handmade goods, and work with the Etsy community to promote each other and have fun! Sales won't come easy as Etsy continues to grow and we all reach for apiece of that pie. But if you stick with it, they will come.

Want to know more about Joan or places where you can find her items for sale? Check this out:

In addition to my Etsy page, I have a Facebook Page - Joan's Gems for people to follow me on and take advantage of give-aways and discounts. Also, I am at the shops listed above and I attend the Easton, Oxford and Cambridge Farmer's Markets. I also attend some juried shows such as the Dorchester Arts Showcase and The Queen Anne's Art Center Heck With The Malls Show.

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