Josephine in Cherry Blossom
Vintage pieces add a certain je ne sais quoi quality to an outfit, a character that is hard to replicate but easy to love. One may spend hours combing antique stores and flea markets for the perfect original piece, the time you spend adding more history and memories for what will soon become a treasure. Prettifications is a shop that should be placed on your treasure map, one to visit again and again.
Pretty and feminine meets vintage charm in Cynthia Scott's Etsy shop. Her use of vintage beads and baubles shares a history of a time gone by, making for jewelry is that is enchanting and dreamy, calling out for romance.
My favorite pair of earrings are ones with a little Old World style. The "Josephine in Cherry Blossom" German filigree earrings are composed of an unexpected lucite material, but are no less appealing. Unusual and charming, they are light and airy despite their large size. "Josephine" would certainly make an intriguing adornment to any outfit.
Scott answered a few questions over email about her work and art.
The Daily Page: How do you motivate your creativity? (e.g. do you listen to music while you create and if so, what?)
Scott: At this point in the life of my online shop, the components from which I create my earrings are almost exclusively purchased from supply sellers on Etsy, and I've found that simply browsing through the never-ending pages of supplies gets my creative juices flowing like nothing else.
About once a week I visit my favorite supply shops to see what's new, and also seek out new shops to add to my favorites. Music -- particularly that of Bon Iver, Brandi Carlile, Imogen Heap and M.I.A. -- comes into play when it's time to hunker down before the computer to post-process photos of my pieces and post new items. When the mood strikes, I'll even go for a little Mozart or Beethoven.
Describe your workspace. Are you at the kitchen table or in a dedicated work area?
The dining nook of our smallish apartment has been transformed into my dedicated work area, although it's more of a storage area for all of my various supplies and tools unless I'm working with something particularly messy such as epoxy. I tend to multi-task in the evenings by plopping down on the couch next to my partner, with my dog at my feet and a lap and coffee table overflowing with various tools and jewelry components. That way I can spend a bit of time with them while also tending to my shop.
Processing photos, writing item descriptions and posting new items seem to be the most time consuming activities associated with my Etsy shop; these are all things that I must do on the desktop computer in our spare room which has become "the study." So when there's flexibility in where I can accomplish a task, I tend to be happiest in the living room in the company of others.
What is your favorite piece and why?
I'm incapable of choosing just one! My first love is Ruth, which are stud earrings that feature vintage glass cabochons from Japan with a very sweet and delicate rose design. They remind me of the prettiest, daintiest tea saucers. Ruth is my original design; Prettifications began four months ago as a quest to create a perfect pair of vintage studs for myself. Before I knew it, I had four pairs of Ruth in pink and four pairs in yellow. And yes, these are a favorite of mine despite the fact that I have not yet sold a pair! I've given a few pairs away as gifts and when worn they fetch many compliments. They aren't best sellers, but they're a favorite because they were my first adventure.
Jemma and Josephine also hold special places in my heart. Both of these designs feature big, showy vintage pendants from Germany, crafted from plastic or Lucite, and are available in a rainbow of colors. These pieces were my first "big" adventure. I'm always drawn to jewelry that's on the smaller side and tend to design pieces that I would be comfortable wearing. However, I quickly reached a point where I really wanted to create some pieces that would appeal to someone with bolder taste. With Jemma and Josephine I feel that I was able to do that while remaining true to my original inspirations.
What advice do you have for people interested in starting an online store? How do you make the separation between your store and your day job/personal life?
Because I'm such a newbie as both a crafter and a seller, I'm still very much learning as I go. I'm learning about design techniques and photography as well as the ins and outs of running an online store. At this point in my endeavor, things are not necessarily flying out of my shop, which can occasionally be discouraging.
However, that also means I'm not killing myself trying to make time for my personal life outside of my day job. I feel fortunate to have a fulfilling nine-to-fiver with a Madison non-profit that has its busy days like anything else, but it's a rare day that I come home completely wasted. Furthermore, my earring-making began as an experiment and has become a hobby; at the moment it's my sole artistic outlet. This makes it relatively effortless for me get home from work, tag-team dinner with my partner, and then tend to shop matters for some time before hitting the hay and doing it all over again the next day.
It's true that some things must be done on the weekend. For example, my photography largely takes place on Saturday and Sunday mornings because that's when the natural light in our apartment is best, but I brew a pot of coffee, turn on an iPod and it doesn't really feel like work. If I spend a significant amount of time on my shop earlier in the day, I always put things away in the late afternoon and evenings to allow for "decompression" of other types: elaborate Saturday dinners because we're self-proclaimed foodies, potluck or a BBQ with friends, or going out for drinks.
From a practical standpoint, I would tell someone interested in starting an online shop to never underestimate the power of good product images in drawing customers to your corner of the online shopping universe. Also, don't be afraid to browse through your own shop from time to time and self-critique. In the four short months since the birth of my shop and newfound hobby, my skills and techniques have already evolved. I recently re-photographed many pieces that were posted in the early days of Prettifications and also overhauled many of my earliest designs.
What is your favorite local shop in Madison?
I must admit that partly due to my newness on the Madison scene -- I moved from Burlington, Vermont at the end of January -- and mostly due to my concurring addiction to Etsy, I am still in search of my favorite local shop. However, because my life greatly revolves around good food and drink, I could tell you that Barrique's is my favorite place to go for a glass of wine, Marigold Kitchen has treated us exceptionally well for breakfast, Lombardino's offers phenomenal Italian, Brocach's happy hour is indeed very happy, and the Weary Traveler serves up a mean Bad Breath Burger that is well worth the promised consequence. And there are many others that I'm itching to try: Samba, Sardine, Harvest, L'Etoile and Restaurant Muramoto to name a few. I am slightly ashamed that I can't yet declare a favorite Madison shop, but why be hasty when my partner will soon be an official PhD student at UW? There will be plenty of time to develop my Madison favorites and I'm looking forward to it!
Etsy is an online marketplace whose mission is to "reconnect makers with buyers." These explorations will connect you with the makers in your neighborhood.