Collections and Websites and Wholesale, Oh My!

 

 

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Chalice Earrings – New for Spring 2017

Things are about to get real here at Door 44 Jewelry! I have a full year of sales under my belt, and I somehow managed to exceed my wildest expectations for my first year in business. That said, 2016 was a particularly challenging year for my family. It was a year of financial instability and uncertainty for we three Reamys. My husband was out of work twice last year, through no fault of his own. It’s just the nature of his business. Sometimes one contract ends before the next one is lined up, and sometimes it takes longer to line up the next gig than we expect.

 

We were without an income for four of the last thirteen months as a result of two such incidents of poor timing, and that made me realize how vulnerable we are as a single income household. So, what’s a busy mom with an even busier 6th grader to do?

I considered going back to work full time, naturally, but there are a multitude of reasons why that’s a less than ideal solution for our family. What really needs to happen, I decided, is that it’s time to level up my jewelry business to a point where it replaces my former salary as a project manager in the tech sector. Last year when I launched Door 44 Jewelry, that felt like a pipe dream. Today it feels totally doable, and I’m going for it.

I kicked off this year by participating in the 2017 Jewelry Brand Makeover Bootcamp hosted by Flourish & Thrive Academy, and what an eye-opener that was. I learned more about growing a jewelry business in that 10-day Bootcamp than I learned in an entire year of promoting my Etsy shop. The biggest revelation for me, though, is how much I’ve yet to learn. So, I’ll be dedicating the next eight weeks to a more in-depth Flourish & Thrive Academy course called Laying the Foundation.

I’ve always suspected that I would ultimately end up working for myself someday. It’s not that I don’t play well with others. I do, when I’m on the right team. It’s finding that team that’s been a constant source of struggle for me in the corporate world. Too few companies are willing to do the right things for the right reasons. Corporate America is plagued with incompetent and unethical management, and the situation has only gotten worse since I joined the workforce as a young woman. I made a lot of money for some of my former employers through the years, but for all that hard work, I have little to show for it. I was never the prime beneficiary of my own effort, but that’s about to change.

That 10-day Jewelry Brand Makeover Bootcamp showed me that it is completely within my own power to turn my love of jewelry into a lucrative business that will benefit my family in ways I’d only dreamed of until now. It’s high time that my family and I become the direct beneficiaries of my hard work.

You can expect to see a lot of changes behind Door 44 soon. You may have already noticed some changes, but there is so much more to come. I see now how I can leverage my background in manufacturing and production management to produce more jewelry more efficiently so I can sell wholesale to my favorite boutiques and galleries around the country–maybe even around the globe! I see how I can leverage my project management

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Twig Earrings with Picasso Czech Glass – New for Spring 2017

experience and my accounting education to set up scalable and sustainable business systems that will make my business run like a finely tuned machine. I see how I can tap into my web development and copy writing experience to build an engaging web presence for my jewelry, and I can’t wait to showcase the new collections I’m currently developing on the new website I’ll be building in February as I work through the Laying the Foundation course.

 

2017 is the year that I stop dreaming and start making those dreams my reality. I hope you’ll stay along for the ride because it’s going to be a lot of fun. A lot of work, yes, but it’s the kind of work that I can fully get behind because, for the first time in my working life, I’m totally free to do it my way.

Why should the shareholders of some nameless, faceless corporation be the ones to benefit from your blood, sweat, and tears? Life is much too short for that nonsense. Do something you love, and do it well so you’re the one who reaps those rewards.

 

 

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Back in the Creative Groove

The original intent of this blog was to share my jewelry, my creative process, and the ways in which my life influences my jewelry and vice versa. My plan at the beginning of 2013 was to step my life-long jewelry hobby up to a business, but I got married that year instead.

I thought I’d try again to launch the jewelry business in 2014, but instead I became a full-time mom when my stepdaughter came to live with her father and me. The first half of 2015 was an absolute whirlwind with job changes and lawyers and school and cello lessons and moving to a new city, but things are starting to settle down now, and I’m finally finding the time to get back to my personal goals.

Having been out of the daily habit of making jewelry for a very long time, I decided to get back into the groove by honing my metalworking skills and experimenting with some new wire-wrapping techniques. The following images are the results of some of my first focused attempts at wire work in… well… a very long time.

Nicole Hanna of Nicole Hanna Jewelry has long been an inspiration for me. Where she finds the time and energy to do all that she does is beyond me, but besides making gorgeous jewelry and writing fabulous tutorials for aspiring wire wrappers, she also runs a great page on Facebook that’s become a sort of gathering place where artists help artists by sharing tips, techniques, and tutorials. The page is relatively new, but I’m amazed by how quickly its membership has exploded, and that’s largely because Nicole has a huge following in the wire wrapped jewelry world. Seriously, if you’ve never heard of her, it must be because you’re not a wire worker. Or a hand crafted jewelry lover.

Anyway, long story short, Nicole has this way of getting people to step out of their comfort zone and create stuff they might not ordinarily attempt. This month she issued a challenge for group members to create something with a leaf theme using only wire, a single bead, and no tools besides wire cutters and a single pair of jewelry pliers.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not. Particularly if you’ve taken a couple of years away from wire work in order to focus one some huge life changes. Add to that the fact that I love tools. I generally work with a minimum of three different sets of pliers, so committing to using a single pair for this challenge was almost physically painful for me. This piece fought me every inch of the way. I scrapped my first attempt and restarted the design. I broke several wires. Nothing flowed properly or ended up looking quite the way I saw it in my mind, but I finally ended up with a piece I liked enough to submit for the contest. And then I broke the bead while I was doing the final polish. Ugh! Another repair (and more wire added to my scrap bin), another round of the whole clean/patina/clean/polish routine (my least favorite part of the whole process); and this is the result of all that wire and frustration (not to mention some pretty colorful language):

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Dew-laden Aspen Leaf – design inspired by Nicole Hanna of Nicole Hanna Jewelry.

It’s my interpretation of a dew-laden Aspen leaf in the fall. The colors are peaking here in Colorado this week, so it’s a timely tribute to my favorite season. The design is also a nod to Nicole Hanna’s style, which I adore even though I’ve never quite been able to do her designs justice.

As a jewelry artist, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry that I didn’t make myself, but I make an exception for Nicole’s work. I own three Nicole Hanna originals, and I gush about her work like a proud parent whenever someone compliments me on one of those pieces.

The second big challenge I took on this week was a pair of earrings designed by another jewelry rock star whose work I shamelessly worship. I mentioned Sarah Thompson in  a previous post after I’d taken her online course through Craftsy.com. I first discovered Sarah’s work a couple of years ago while I was looking for wire wrapped inspiration on Etsy. It was there that I first saw her Scorpio earrings, and I fell in love with her work the moment I laid eyes on them. As luck would have it, Sarah included that particular earring design in her new book, Fine Art Wire Weaving.

Here’s my first attempt at that design:

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Scorpio Earrings – Design by Sara Thompson

Fricken fabulous, aren’t they? I can’t begin to explain how inspiring her work is, so go check it our yourself at Sarah-n-Dippity! And tell her I said hello. Cuz that’s not creepy at all.

Now that I’m finally back to focusing on jewelry, this blog might start to have fewer words and more pictures. Probably not a bad thing, given my tendency to ramble.

Oh, one more thing… Welcome to all the new followers I’ve picked up over the past few weeks. Thank you for taking the time to read and share my blog.

Now, go make something beautiful!

What’s Behind Door 44?

The number 44 has become something of a special totem for me. For the past several years, I’ve noticed that this number crops up frequently in my life. I see it on clocks, purchase receipts, license plates–it’s pretty much everywhere I look. And when something repeats that persistently in my life, I pay attention.

I turned 44 last August. I’ve known for a while now that this would prove to be a significant year, so I was definitely looking forward to it. Yet, even while anticipating a monumental year, I’ve been surprised by some of the amazing things that have happened in the past nine months. By the end of October 2013, I’d quit my job, sold my house, and moved to Denver (a city I’d resisted for many years). My husband, Matt, and I got married on October 29, 2013 in what must seem like an incredibly impulsive act to the friends and family who have known me to be generally cautious and methodical when it comes to major life decisions.

I finally completed the college degree program I started years ago–a BSIT with an accounting specialization–in March. My degree was conferred on May 4th, but after nearly twenty years of working in the corporate world, I don’t have a burning desire to re-immerse myself in that world. The older I get, the clearer it becomes that I’m not cut out to be a corporate drone; and for the first time in my adult life, I am completely free to choose what to do with my time and energy. My husband has very generously given me the freedom to return to work or launch the jewelry business I’ve dreamed of starting for years or to volunteer my time to whatever cause captures my attention. My challenge is to figure out which, if any, of those paths to choose.

More than a year ago I was so certain that I would be making jewelry that I commissioned this logo from my friend and graphic artist, Cindy Shew:Door44-finished

So much has changed since I settled on this logo for my jewelry business, not the least of which is my name. I hardly remember who Wendi Givigliano was anymore, so it seems strange to see that name on my logo. That version of myself has faded to sort of an abstract image of a woman bound by circumstances to a lonely existence and a life path that was continually directed toward the needs of the people and organizations that consumed my time and attention. I didn’t have a lot of spare time or energy to pursue my own interests, so I selfishly guarded my down time so I could make jewelry. It was through that solitary creative process, which I immersed myself in nightly, that I was able to restore my energy reserves so I could face another day at work.

It dawned on me recently that the act of making jewelry back then was my life line, in a sense. It’s what kept me balanced and sane after dealing with the insanity of emotionally imbalanced coworkers jockeying for position in a dysfunctional corporate organization day after day. The simple act of creating jewelry gave me a concrete sense of accomplishment, and the creative process became my chosen means of meditation and stress release.

That was then. Wendi Givigliano, as I remember that version of myself, was operating in survival mode. I dreamed of the day that I might evolve from surviving to thriving, but I had no concrete ideas about how to get there. In a desperate attempt to redirect my course toward a more fulfilling existence, I chose making jewelry as one potential means to that end. The logo above was the ultimate expression of that desire. I imagined that starting a jewelry business would open the door to fulfillment for me. Little did I know that the door would open on its own accord, and that it would turn my whole world view upside down in the process.

Ironically, I was working with Cindy on the design of my logo at the exact same time that my husband came back into my life after a two-year hiatus. I first met Matt in the spring of 2009. We were coworkers at the time. I was a project manager at a small manufacturing company in Trinidad, Colorado back then. Matt, a software developer, was hired to work on a specific project for that company. Our paths didn’t cross frequently at the office, and we never worked directly with one another, so I never got an opportunity to really get to know him. Still, I felt a strong connection to him. So when he left after working there for less than a year, I wondered if I’d somehow missed an important opportunity.

I got a chance to explore that opportunity a second time in 2010 when Matt and I connected via Facebook. Once we finally started talking, we discovered that we have an awful lot in common. Facebook messaging lead to text messaging and email correspondence, which in turn lead to phone conversations that would last for hours. That’s the only time either of us ever exceeded the minutes on our respective cell phone plans. As luck would have it, though, we still didn’t manage to get together back then.

Our lives spun off in different directions that summer, and we lost all contact until January, 2013 when the simple gesture of a LinkedIn endorsement from Matt brought the wheel of fortune back around for us a third time. We immediately picked up right where we left off two years prior, and while I finalized the logo for my jewelry business, the act of making jewelry was pushed to the back burner while Matt and I dated.

We lived 120 miles apart at that time, so we split our weekends between his home and mine. On weeknights, I was talking with him on the phone instead of making jewelry. And now I am Wendi Reamy. This new version of myself is clearly a wife and stepmother. Whether or not I am still a jewelry artisan remains to be seen. My priorities have changed. My focus has changed dramatically. I still feel the drive to create, but that drive seems to be flow more naturally into domestic activities like cooking than artistic expression.

I am far more inclined to scour the internet for interesting recipes today than I am to pick up my wire and tools. I miss making jewelry, and I hope to get back to it at some point. For now, though, my sense is that I should probably just go with the flow. The wheel of fortune brought Matt around to me three times, and it was on that third rotation that we were finally able to make what was clearly an inevitable connection. Making jewelry has been a significant part of my life at two very specific points now. Perhaps, as with my husband, the jewelry craft will finally stick if it comes back around on the wheel a third time.

Until then, this blog, which was originally intended to be focused on my jewelry business, will more likely be a place where I sort out my thoughts about life, love, relationships, and the many connections I make to those things through artistic expression–either my own or that of other artists whose work moves me.

If you are interested in discovering with me what’s behind Door 44, I welcome you to join me on this journey. In the meantime, remember this: life is short, so do something you love.