Amanda, owner of Chloe Boutique, has been creating beautiful artisan jewelry for about 3 years. She found herself increasing frustrated when she couldn't find high quality, chic accessories for outfits. She explains, “When I did find something in a store, it just seemed so cheaply put together with wires sticking out, or coatings chipping off of beads, cheap metals that quickly tarnish, etc., and, stores charged a lot for this mass produced sup-par jewelry! I knew I had to have a creative side to me; my entire family is artistic. Just took me a while to find my own creative niche!”
One of her favorite pieces is one she made for herself for autumn. Using a friend’s handcrafted polymer clay maple leaf bead as a focal point, she embellished it with peridot, citrine, carnelian and red aventurine, and Karen Hill Tribe Silver. “[It] features all of those gloriously warm and cheerful autumn colors that I miss so much,” says Amanda, who originally hails from northern West Virginia, in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.
Amanda draws her inspiration from nature. “Born and raised in the beautiful mountains of northern West Virginia, I appreciated the simple things in life. As I got older and went to college (my Bachelor of Science degree is Wildlife & Fisheries Management, Master of Science degree is Biology with an Ornithology concentration--Study of Birds), that only intensified.” She continues, “I love gemstones! They're ‘handmade’ by Mother Nature! I take what Earth has provided and I add flair to it. My pieces are perfect for everyday wearing. One piece can be casual enough to be worn with your favorite pair of jeans, or dressy enough to be worn with your business attire, or even a nice evening out!”
Amanda cites keeping up with fashion trends as her biggest challenge. “I usually create jewelry that I would personally wear. I tend to stick to medium sized stones, and streamline in design,” she explains. “I'm not usually one to go huge and bold since I have a smaller frame. So, it's really hard to make things out of my comfort zone and [still] feel that it fits in to my Chloe Boutique jewelry line, if you will.”
When asked the favorite thing about her work, she says, “I love the vast possibilities that you have as a jewelry designer. The world is literally your limit! With all of the colors, shapes, cuts, sizes, and types of gemstones alone, your jewelry creativeness is limitless! Then, you add the array of metals, findings, artisan-created lampwork glass (which is unique in itself with no two pieces being the same) and polymer clay beads, crystals, glass, vintage beads, etc., you can just let your mind go crazy...just hope your fingers can keep up with all the designs that play in your head!”
With nearly 450 sales in just 2 ½ years, she’s in a fine position to offer advice to other sellers. “Promotion is key to being a successful seller. This is hard for me personally because time does not allow me to promote as much as I would like. Jewelry making started off as a hobby, and something to supplement my own personal jewelry box. I do have a full-time day job,” Amanda says. “But, for those that create and sell as their livelihood, self-promotion seems to be the successful tool. Join groups, have a blog (and keep it updated, this is something I admit to be lacking in), submit your work to local galleries, magazines, etc., do craft shows, get business cards made and hand them out everywhere you go, get yourself a Fan Page on Facebook and post your work there. There are so many things you can do to promote your work. Get as many people to your sites as you can...they'll like what they see, and they will most likely spread the word!”
When asked what skill she’d like to learn, Amanda says she’d like to improve her wire-working skills. “I’m so intimidated by the whole ‘wire-wrapping of gemstones’ concept that I do them few and far between. So, I end up almost starting over each time I create a wire-wrapped piece of jewelry.”
For the curious, Amanda’s pseudonym, Wildlifer78, is her original Etsy buyer’s ID. Her shop name, Chloe Boutique, honors her dog, a pug. (In addition to pug Chloe, she also has a beagle named Ellie.)
Amanda lived for a short time in New Orleans when she was a year or so old. She returned to Louisiana to pursue a Master's degree at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. Her research was studying migratory songbirds and determining the forest management practice effects on their abundance and vitality.
“I always wanted to see and work in the bottomland hardwood forests of the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley. So, that's why I chose to do my Master's work here,” she explains. “I met my husband while working as a student worker at the local Wildlife and Fisheries office. We married in November 2004, built our first home in 2005, and both have good jobs here. Louisiana is now home!” She enjoys her day job as an Environmental Scientist for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
Other personal interests include the outdoors, exercising (especially running), hiking, backpacking, canoeing/kayaking, occasional hunting/fishing, and bird watching. She says, “I also thoroughly enjoy traveling, spending time with friends and family, reading, music, shopping (like any other girl!), cooking (mostly baking), and of course being creative.”
Amanda’s stunning creations can be found at the following:
http://www.facebook.com/chloeboutique (fan page)