Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Making a change through handmade goods

It's my pleasure to feature a guest blogger, Alex from Alexlady Designs. I asked Alex to write an article because she has made a change in her life: becoming an entrepreneur. Alex makes beautiful jewelry, and she has started a virtual business on an important website not everyone has heard of, Etsy. I've invited Alex to my blog to provide inspiration for starting something new and to give some ideas for shopping with a conscience. Here she is in her own words...

Making a change. Why does it seem so intimidating sometimes? All of those great, apropos clichés… The devil you know vs. the devil you don’t. The famed golden handcuffs. Time for a bit of wisdom from the Bhagavad-Gita: Action is superior to inaction.

I’m an actor with a day job that gives me great health insurance. It’s fairly flexible with hours. But the problem is that each day I find it harder to get excited about this job, even though it’s my paycheck. I need to feel rewarded by more than just a deposit slip, even though that’s obviously important. And I’ve always loved making jewelry.

I started years ago, doing pieces for friends as gifts. I can’t even really say what it was, but a few months ago it clicked… and alexlady designs was born! Now I have a successful online store chock full of jewelry made by my own two hands, and an up-and-coming blog that features other handcrafters’ items as well as highlights of the New Jersey arts scene.

I originally chose to open up my virtual doors on because I knew it was an amazing showcase for handmade items. Not only is it a much more shopper-friendly format than, say, eBay, but I have found that it’s also an inspiring artists’ community. I discover more about the community every day, whether it’s a thread full of information on doing home showcase sales, or the Street Teams… small groups of artisans that are a more personal group for support and promotion. I recently joined the EtsyNJ Team, and since then I’ve easily doubled my knowledge about starting a business, as well as met some very talented new artists.

Shopping with a Conscience

Check out a few ways that etsy is making a difference:

*On my honor* Take the Handmade Pledge at I’ve always preferred handcrafted gifts, but by signing up and posting this you encourage your friends to support artists as well. And I’ve developed a Favorites list that’s so extensive; no one can ever accuse me of being “hard to shop for” ever again!

*Right in My Backyard * Are you looking for an artist in Jersey City Heights ? The Shop Local link on the Buy page lets you search for etsy artisans in your very own town. What an excellent way to give back to the community!

*Boo on Carbon Footprints* If you’re Going Green, check out the “environmentally friendly” link under the Gift Guides. There you can scroll through tons of up-cycled, organic, and re-purposed offerings.

*Tis Better to Give* By entering ‘charity’ into the search bar, you can browse through items that shopkeepers are selling and donating some or all of the proceeds to a charity.

Making jewelry makes me feel like a better person. The process is exciting for me, full of problem-solving, experimenting with colors, and immersing myself in the creation of something beautiful. And joining etsy has been a wonderful way to gain exposure, as well as opening my eyes to a wealth of knowledge and local support. I haven’t quit my day job yet, but who knows where this will take me?

Come visit and see what it’s all about! And join me on the blogosphere at for updates on the North Jersey Arts scene, as well as features on other local etsians, giveaways, and items that you just won’t believe. Jewelry made from octopus tentacles, anyone?


Tricia said...

Oh Alex, BEAUTIFUL jewelry!! And I enjoyed your feature!!! I'm off to check out your websites!!

Squirrel said...

I have been buying Handcrafted jewelry for awhile now and will never go back! I bought 3 beautiful pieces recently at the Liberty Farmers Market (in the Catskills) and I've gotten more compliments on those pieces... one set of earrings was made from recycled glass.

Back when I was a kid, a guy set up a "Silversmith's Shop" in our Brooklyn neighborhood, but then came 1980s -- a bad time for jewelry makers, when people began wearing swatches and crap.

Someone just told me that a silversmith has set up in Nyack--I'll have to go and check it out.

Holly said...

Ooh! A silvermith. You'll definitely have to blog about what you find out!

KK said...

Holly, your blog is filled with the most beautiful pictures! Guatemala, Antigua, and delicate jewelry!


Kudos to Alex, as well! I've mentioned before that I've taken jewelry-making classes, so I know first-hand how much hard work and creativity you need to come up with such gorgeous creations!

alexlady said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments! I'd definitely love to hear more about that silversmith as well. I'll go for any reason to go to Nyack!

i'd love eventually to learn bench jewelry making, i love soldering irons. baby steps!