Tell us about yourself and what got you into the jewelry business.
My name is Katy Ryan and I'm from Springfield, Ohio. I recently graduated in May 2015 from The Ohio State University and my time there is what really got my jewelry business going. I have always loved making jewelry. I have probably been doing it since I was 13 or so, but I started hand stamping and made it into a business in 2013 as a result of my Scholars Program at Ohio State.
I was a member of Media, Marketing, and Communications Scholars. One of our responsibilties was to either attend special project groups or do our own self-led project. I opted for the self-led project and decided I was going to open my own Etsy shop for handmade goods.
After researching what types of handmade goods I wanted to start making to sell, I fell in love with hand stamped jewelry and gathered the supplies in January of 2013. I started selling locally around campus in February and officially opened shop on Etsy in April. Since then, my business has grown into more than I could ever imagined it would have when I first started my self-led project group. I am now on Etsy, Handmade at Amazon, multiple consignment shops, do local events throughout the year, and even have a few wholesale customers as well.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
My design style is really wide and I like to make a lot of different styles to appeal to many people. I have recently fallen in love with adding a vintage feel to a lot of my pieces. I love using organic pewter pieces for my stamped jewelry and add a lot of roses and floral elements to them. The organic pewter pieces are by far my favorite medium to work with when making hand stamped jewelry.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and things around life. I have a "product brain dump" on Pinterest where I pin lots of quotes that I think would be great for jewelry pieces. I never pin the work of others or use Pinterest was a way to see what other hand stampers are doing. I just use it to find great quote ideas for different pieces. I also have a notes app on my phone where I write down anything that comes to mind throughout the day that would be good for a piece. Most recently, I took a poem written by my great grandpa and made a bunch of awesome pieces out of his words, including "find the time", "speak your love", "love always", and more.
How do you try to differentiate yourself from the competition?
I try my best to make my pieces unique and to constantly improve my craft and my branding. I work to have very high quality and well produced pieces that stand out among a lot of competitors and I've made sure to have great product photography to draw people in and stay consistent with the brand image I'm trying to create.
What advice would you give to people who want to get into the maker/designer business?
Read. That is the first thing I did. I purchased the Craft, Inc. business planner and read the Craft, Inc. book and a few other handmade business books as well. They were a great starting point to have before I even knew exactly what I would be making to sell. They helped me realized everything that was involved and helped me make it a business from the beginning. Never stop learning and never stop exploring. Since the start, I have expanded my business to more than just hand stamped jewelry. I purposefully picked a business name that wouldn't limit me to one craft and now in addition to hand stamped jewelry I also sell etching handwriting jewelry, 8x10 prints that I design and print in house, and drinkware and other vinyl goods.
What are you looking forward to when it comes to the future of your business?
I am very much looking forward to doing more shows and events this year and meeting lots of awesome new people! I only did 2 smaller scale shows last year (there wasn't much time/flexibility for shows when I was in school) and I'm so excited to do more this year!!
Do you have any plans to expand your company?
My dream would be to open my own shop someday, but that goal is far out in the future. For now, expansion is focused on continuing to expand my recently opened Handmade at Amazon shop, do as many vendor events and shows as possible this year, and to continue to work on building my wholesale side of things! I'm very excited for this year and the big plans I have.