Our guest today is Tracy Matthews – jewelry artist and business owner.
Tracy is in the middle of free training session this month but took some time out to visit with us and share her story. We are given a glimpse of just what one class of metalsmith can turn into for this one bead-thusiast jewelry artist.
Let’s hear what Tracy has to share with us:
Tell us a bit about your bead-ginnings
• How did you get started Or How did you learn to bead/make jewelry?
My journey into the jewelry design and making arena started when I took a jewelry making elective in college back in 1993. Immediately I loved it and knew that designing and making jewelry was my calling.
My professor was a huge advocate and my first mentor. She planted the seed for me to take this beyond a hobby so I had always looked at my skill of making jewelry as something that I could build a life and business around when the time was right.
• How long have you been making jewelry?
I’ve been designing and making jewelry for about 25 or so years. My first collection was launched when I was still in college and I sold primarily to my family and friends.
However, in 1998 I quit my full-time job in retail and launched my jewelry business full-time.
• What was your first project?
I can’t remember specifically what I made, but I know it had something to do with soldering. The initial projects we did were pretty basic run of the mill projects to teach techniques. I am pretty sure it was a brass pendant or something. I was thrilled when we moved onto silver because it was so much easier to work with than brass (and gold is a dream).
• What is or has been your field of interest in beading and jewelry making?
Interestingly enough, even though I was trained as a metalsmith, my first proper collections that I presented to stores were beaded and wire wrapped. Beaded jewelry was VERY popular at that time in the late 90’s and very marketable. Also I wanted to create a collection that was cold fusion that could be worked on at home or in my studio, so a beaded collection made perfect sense.
My collections have evolved over the years and I am primarily designing luxury fine jewelry like engagement rings and wedding bands these days.
Tell us what you are doing now…
• Do you still keep your hands in jewelry making or some facet of it?
These days, I focus mainly on designing my jewelry and I outsource the production to my team of fine artisans here in NYC. This has allowed me to be the Chief Visionary Officer and Creative Director for both of my businesses, Tracy Matthews Custom Jewelry and Flourish & Thrive Academy.
I told my co-founder at F&TA when we first started the business 3.5 years ago that I had to continue designing because it is a part of me. We had been bogged down (in a great way) with building a business so my time was more limited designing jewelry. Jewelry is my passion and mentoring is my purpose. I’m lucky because they go hand in hand.
• Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
YES! I am always working on something. With the exception of December, I had a waiting list of clients all year long. I took a little break in December to focus on Flourish & Thrive Academy, some personal goals and vacation (which everyone needs).
Currently, I have 6-8 projects in the works. I am back on a waiting list and starting to cue up clients for February and March. (My Max capacity is about 6-8 clients a month these days).
• Do you have a favorite material you like working with?
Rose gold for sure!
• Do you have a favorite technique that makes you alive?
I love texture so my models are typically made in wax so we can add texture to the bands or elements.
• How can we, bead-thusiast, follow you and/or your work?
Will you share some words of wisdom for our beginners just getting started…
• Do you have a favorite tool, technique or tip?
I love an assortment of techniques from traditional to edgy so I can’t say I have one favorite.
• Anything you feel important to pass along to the beginner?
Be original! Come up with your own ideas and develop a collection around a theme or signature style, especially if you desire to be selling your work someday! For those of you who are interested to turn your jewelry making hobby into a business (either side biz or full-time), do yourself a favor and learn the shortcuts that will help you build your business quickly. Typically, a small investment in yourself can save years off the learning curve if you are ready and willing to take action towards your dreams.
• Anything else you would like to share? The platform is yours…
We are hosting a FREE training series from January 11-21st, 2016 which will walk you through The 3 Steps to Your Thriving Jewelry Business and teach the fundamentals of building a brand that is desired and shared by your biggest advocates and fans.
What a great story and how exciting for me personally to brush up against someone who was so motivated and has taken this so far.
We want to thank Tracy for sharing her experiences of her beginnings and how she has evolved in this industry.
Remember this is just one person’s path and Tracy had to start at the beginning, just like everyone else. Tracy didn’t start here, it took her 25 years to get to where she is today with her jewelry making dreams, as of this interview. Tracy was compelled to follow what she was initially introduced to in college and this is where the path led her…we all take different paths as you will find as we continue our interview series.
If you want to continue to follow Tracy and learn from her I encourage you to do so. There is not just one ‘be all end all’ mentor or instructor, we learn from many along the way.
My hope for you is that Tracy’s path will inspire you to continue to move forward with your own path and to be an inspiration to other beginners helping them get started.
Thanks for visiting with us today…Beaded Blessings.
disclaimer: I love what Tracy is doing in the jewelry making industry with her business partner, Robin Kramer, that is why I have aligned BeadAtHome with Flourish and Thrive Academy [F&TA] and have become an ambassador for their message. I may receive commission should you follow any affiliate links in this article, but opinions are 100% mine. This is just one small way I am able to support my time providing this service to you. Thank you for your support.