Meet the Maker: Jess Van Den from Epheriell

meet the maker

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Meet Jess Van Den, 32, from Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Queensland, Australia, who runs her own handmade jewelry line, Epheriell, and also founded Create & Thrive, an excellent resource for creative business owners. Create & Thrive has become a huge part of my research and reading for both my blog and my creative business projects I’m working on, and I’m so privileged to share her story with you.

Jess has not only one Bachelors degree, but three of them – in Science, Arts and Education. Before she decided to turn her love of jewelry making into a full-time career, she worked as a traveling Science communicator for the Queensland Museum and her last position was a Manager at a Math and English tutoring center for two years.

She got into making jewelry in 2008 and started out buying components at Spotlight (the Michaels of Australia) and stringing pieces together.

“I didn’t really have any skills, but I slowly learnt more and more – and after taking a weekend silversmithing class, my course was set!”

At first, Jess was simply selling jewelry because she had so much of it scattered around and thought “maybe I can sell some.”  Her decision to make it a career was accidental, and might just be one of the best stories I’ve heard to date. She and her husband got married in 2009 and wanted to travel around Australia in a camper for a year.

“We converted an empty courier van into a camper over summer, but I had a huge saga of dental problems at the same time that prevented us from leaving. I had no job, so I just threw myself into the biz… and, well, the rest is history as they say. We never did get to go on that trip… but we will, one day!

Beautiful earrings from the Earring of the Month club. Photo from Jess Van Den

Beautiful earrings from the Earring of the Month club. Photo from Jess Van Den

Her decision to name her jewelry line Epheriell was easy and simple, as it was an online alias she used for many years. She says it’s the mash-up of “ephemeral” and “ethereal,” meaning “lasting for a very short time” and “extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world,” respectively.

A “greenie” from the way back, Jess ran a now-defunct blog called Sustainable Suburbia before starting her jewelry line, so its only natural (no pun intended) that she is dedicated to finding recycled sources for her jewelry. She struggled to find sources at first, but finally found a 100% recycled silver.

“I was keen to find a recycled source. All my sheet and wire is now 100% recycled. I’d love to find a source of recycled sterling silver chain, too, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Like many small business owners, Jess loves the freedom that comes with running her own business, but does admit that she does panic a little when business slows down a little, which fortunately does not happen to her too much anymore.

“Enough years have taught me that things always pick up again!”

After running her jewelry business for a few years, Jess decided to start Create & Thrive as a source of practical advice from people who thrived (again, no pun) in their handmade businesses. She wanted to get writers that were a part of the handmade business community and she will actually be welcoming six new writers in 2014!

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

“There is a lot of advice and info out there written by coaches, consultants, and marketers… but not so much written by people actually walking the talk of running a handmade business day-to-day.”

Jess and her husband, Nick, work in two rooms in a converted barn (she really is a greenie!) and her studio takes up the wall of one room. She has a desk with her computer and another desk for all of her jewelry work. She also has a soldering and buffing station outside.

She recently took a digitial sabbatical for a few days, which she credits for improving her workflow and she wrote about all the changes she is making here. She says that her routines, calendars and schedules ensure that she stays on top of everything, and even though it may not all go smoothly, she is usually able to get everything done.

Yup, that's an old barn. Crazy, eh? Photo from Jess Van Den. Credit: Paul Harris

Yup, that’s an old barn. Crazy, eh? Photo from Jess Van Den. Credit: Paul Harris

“I also have a fabulous Assistant Editor for C&T – Megan Eckman – and I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Jess names jewelry designer Megan Auman and Business Strategist and writer Tara Gentile among her many mentors, but she can’t pinpoint where her inspiration comes from. She says that sometimes an idea will pop up fully formed in her head.

“Other times I’ll sit down with my sketchbook and deliberately doodle until I come up with something I want to turn into reality. My morning walk is always a good idea-generator, too.”

When Jess is not busy creating beautiful jewelry and motivating small business owners with Create & Thrive, she loves to read and is currently on her third Kindle. She’s mostly drawn to the indie fantasy/paranormal romance genre and science fiction, her first love. An amateur triathlete, she also runs, swims or cycles almost every day.

Her new bike! Photo from Jess Van Den

Her new bike! Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

She and Nick also love going hiking, and traveled through all of the National Parks down the US West Coast this year. They have traveled all over the world, and Jess takes a little something from each place she has visited.

“There have been so many amazing places – each one with something unique. I loved snorkeling off the islands in Fiji; taking a helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef at sunset; walking the streets of Paris and New York; hiking amongst the Redwoods in California; swimming in Crater Lake in Oregon; playing in the snow in Whistler, Canada… and the list could go on. The world is endlessly beautiful and I only wish I could see all of it before I die.”

Jess says that anyone who hopes to venture into the world of silversmithing should simply “just start playing.” She recommends taking an in-person course (something you might be able to find on Skillshare) and she also recommends checking out Flourish & Thrive for the business aspect, as she says they are focused on helping jewelers grow their businesses.

Nested Necklace. Photo from Jess Van Den

Nested Necklace. Photo from Jess Van Den

Looking into the future, Jess hopes to grow Create & Thrive and to reach more people with the same mindset she has now – to give them practical information and advice to make their handmade businesses a success. When asked what she liked the most about the handmade community, she said “the warmth and support.”

“People are part of our community because they have a passion for what they do, which I love.”

She wants people to realize that they don’t have to stick with the same day job day in and day out, if it’s not something they love and enjoy doing.

If they have a passion or an idea that they want to turn into a business, they owe it to themselves to give it a red-hot go. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? You fail and keep doing that job. But if you make it work, you get the satisfaction of waking up every day knowing you’re doing something you love, following your own path. No-one’s going to do it for you – it’s up to you. If you want it, go for it!”

Entwined Oxidised Urban Eco Earrings. Photo from Jess Van Den

Entwined Oxidised Urban Eco Earrings. Photo from Jess Van Den

Find about more about Jess and her beautiful jewelry by visiting her at both Epheriell and Create & Thrive. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. My Meet the Maker series appears every other Wednesday and you can find out more about these lovelies by visiting me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I would love to keep this going as long as I can, so if you know of anyone who would be a good fit, let me know!

Meet the Maker: Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Meet Stacie Grissom, 25, from New York City. She runs Stars for Streetlights, which also happens to be one of the very first blogs that I fell in love with when I got more involved with crafting and blogging last year. I have been following her for over a year now, and she never ceases to amaze me with all the cool stuff she is working on!

An Indiana girl at heart, Stacie moved to the big city over a year ago, after dreaming about the move throughout high school and college. She got a job at a start-up company called The BarkPost, and decided there was nothing holding her back from following her dreams.

“The fast pace, the hard work, the energy— there’s such a magical pull to this city.”

A testimony to the power of social media, Stacie found her job through Twitter. A friend of hers sent her a tweet that said “Looking for a job in New York? Must love dogs.” Her love of dogs and journalism got her the position of running The BarkPost for a dog-centric company BarkBox. She was the third employee at the company.

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

“It’s pretty cool to be with folks from the beginning and help work + build everything from scratch.”

Not only does Stacie love to write, she has also been a major fan of photography since she was a kid – using her mom’s film camera to capture photos of her dolls and pets (perhaps a little foreshadowing there). She then saved up her money and purchased her first DLSR in 2009 and got really into analogue photography after throwing herself into photography books.

It was around the same time that she started her blog, out of boredom from working her summer job as a lifeguard. With her blog, Stacie is able to combine her love for writing, photography and design. Her love for design stemmed from playing around with programs on her computer, and she agrees that design and writing are very much related.

From her first post. Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

From her first post. Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

“You have to get many things across with a few words or images. The principles can be the same across both platforms.

Her blog also allows her to express her love for DIY fashion and crafting, something she has been doing since she was a kid. Her mom gave her a sewing machine when she was at the ripe age of six and living in Indiana, she was in the 4-H club for 10 years.

“Those things definitely make you into a lifelong crafter.”

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Stacie fits crafting in every day and is always working on something. She finds inspiration from books like Mark Montano’s  Big Ass Books of Crafts and the “Altered Couture” magazines from Stampington Co. and craft blogs like A Beautiful Mess, Craftgawker, Photojojo.

She also finds inspiration from walking around museums and being outside. Recently, she collected a bunch of rocks from every place she visited on a trip to the UK with her boyfriend, and she plans on making a statement necklace from her collection.

“If I’m not doing something with photos or blogging, then I am sewing or painting or Mod Podging.”

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

A glimpse at her apartment will show that she also has a serious passion for vintage items and last year, she wrote a post about all of her favorite antique shops and thrift stores from back home. Now in New York, she loves shopping at Beacon’s Closet in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

An ode to both her past and present, she describes her personal style as “crafty, eclectic, earthy with a bit of glitter”  and says that while she loves both New York and Indiana, she needs the fast pace of New York to push her.

Stacie not only shares craft tutorials, interior decor tips and thrifting tips on her blog, she also shares tips for beginner photographers.

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

“If I can help someone with a project in any way, I think that’s pretty cool.

Stacie would like to work on a craft book down the road, but right now she’s happy with writing at The BarkPost during the day and creating at night. Next, she hopes to learn more about sodering jewelry.

“I’m happy to work on my blog at night and create stuff all the time”

You can connect with Stacie through her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. If you would like to participate in the Meet the Maker series, please post in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #meethemaker or tag me in the post! You can find more Maker inspiration on my Pinterest!