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Blog

Filtering by Category: handmade

How being part of an Art collective taught me about business and my community

Lisette Fee

Having a community, especially in the art world, is like a warm fuzzy blanket. You feel supported, nurtured and warmed by the commraderie.

While I was studying at East Carolina University for my degree in jewelry and metals, I honestly didn’t have a plan for a studio or where I would work, it all kind of came together the year I graduated in 2012 when I moved into my studio space at Art Avenue. And it’s safe to say, I don’t think I would’ve been as successful in my city had it not been for my friends and companions at Art Avenue.

I tell this story a lot because I want others to know how much it helped my artistic development and I hope that others in the art field have the same kind of experience.
— Lisette Fee
Plant and Fug head by Andy Denton. Photo by Aileen Devlin.

Plant and Fug head by Andy Denton. Photo by Aileen Devlin.

I helped manage the gallery and retail space as well as the metals studio.

I helped manage the gallery and retail space as well as the metals studio.

The concept of the art collective/incubator came about from my friends Claire Edwards and Sarah Setzco. Claire’s father owns the building in which Art Avenue began. Claire and Sarah wanted to showcase local musicians, bands, artists and more. They began with several ‘pop up’ shows, I curated my first exhibition, Preyed Upon at Art Avenue and so within two years Claire and Sarah finally ordained the space Art Avenue. It worked out so smoothly because there was a good group of us ECU graduates that truly needed a place to grow and flex our skills. We had Aileen Devlin a photographer for the local paper, Andy Denton a sculptor and teacher at Pitt Community College, Jeremy Fineman a ceramicist and also instructor of ceramics and art, Autumn Brown set up the metals studio that I eventually inherited. While Claire and Sarah managed the business and finances of our collective the rest of us worked towards promotion of events, installing exhibitions and studio rental spaces.

Mind you, none of us were paid. It was a labor of love as well as perhaps some of our own self interests in understanding the mechanics of running a gallery space. Art Avenue was part of a new revival in Uptown Greenville, there were graduating artists from ECU that needed space to show and sell work.

What did I learn from my experience at Art Avenue?

  • I understood how partnering with local businesses helped expose each other and generate awareness and sales.

  • I learned how HARD it is to get the community and people in Pitt County to attend art events. In a strange we (the art community) lived in our own bubble, so it took extra exposure to get attendance.

  • Working with local press, influencers and social media is HUGE to generating excitement and appreciation for art.

  • My friends and fellow artists contributed to the success of my jewelry company. Aileen Devlin is still my go to photographer and she shares my jewelry with all her friends and family. Andy Denton and Autumn Brown helped set up the casting studio in which I created my jewelry.

  • I co-created my first fashion show event with my friend Paula Chrismon and began shooting videos and lookbooks because of the space and talent I had to work with.

  • Not everyone is cut out for an art incubator space; it takes an artist at a certain point in their career to work in a shared space.

  • when you have a community with you; the sky is the limit. Seriously, there is so much at your fingertips that you may not be aware of.

It was a complete volunteer effort in creating designated studio spaces.

It was a complete volunteer effort in creating designated studio spaces.

Andy Denton preparing our new studio walls.

Andy Denton preparing our new studio walls.

In the end Art Avenue struggled to survive (many of the original Art Avenue board members moved to new cities and opportunities), but the basis of what we created was a haven and space to share our art and that of others which provided so much culture and vibrancy to Greenville. And now there are new spaces popping up and I”m sure there will continue to be art havens. For example, The Art Lab run by the Pitt County Council of the Arts which pretty much has the same concept that Art Avenue had except this endeavor is funded by an already established nonprofit.

Art Avenue was very instrumental in getting my business off the ground, and I will forever be grateful to the community and support it provided me. And as it is with these kinds of posts, I urge you to support your local artists, makers and entrepreneurs because they are so vital to the health and happiness of your community.

Treat your bestie, your sister from another mister right!

Lisette Fee

My Galentine’s Day Gift guide is here! I curated this selection to truly match the special woman/man in your life. I’m not talking about your spouse or partner but the person that you call in the middle of the night or when you need to vent and cry your eyes out to.

Here I am with my dearest friend Cate. I’d be lost without her in my life!

Here I am with my dearest friend Cate. I’d be lost without her in my life!

Over the years, my best friends have been my life line. They’ve seen me at my absolute worst (aka being a diva) and at my best (aka when I got married). So why not treat them to something truly memorable and special?

Of course, I do consider all of my jewelry perfect gifts for any occasion, but these selections speak to any price point $30 to under $200 and to the type of person in your life. I hope this helps and lets lift up the amazing souls that do the same for us!


What it's like to be an Artist of the Month in Farmville

Lisette Fee

What a rush of amazing feelings and happiness to be surrounded by people that love art and jewelry! Yesterday I participated in my towns Artist of the Month reception sponsored by the Farmville Community Arts Council and it was probably one of the best local exhibition/shows I’ve ever participated in - and I’ve done alot of shows and exhibitions.

What I really can’t get over is how much of an impact social interaction and getting out and meeting people has on myself and my business. In this day and age of online media and networking has had on art and business, it goes hand and hand with actually getting out and talking and showing people what I do in my studio.

Processing a sale at my media table at the reception.

Processing a sale at my media table at the reception.

And I’ll tell you, when a small arts council like the FCAC sponsors a reception, they really turn it out and do everything in their power to get people there! I mean, the volunteers with FCAC sent out a card with my jewelry on it, emailed their list, provided the space AND food and drink for the event all to expose my work to the community and it truly means so much to have that kind of exposure!

I want to share this experience with you and hopefully with your friends to give you an inkling at how dedicated local arts community are and how essential they are to creating culture and vibrancy in a town or city. Not only that, they bring an amazing energy and vitality to the community. For example, in Greenville (our neighboring city) the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge hosts an amazing variety of events that bring the entire city together like the PirateFest and so many other events. They also provide grants and FREE money to emerging and established artists.

And I will tell you this, with emotion and truth, I would not be where I am in my journey as a jeweler, businesswoman and artist without the support and generosity of my local arts council and the hard working volunteers that help and give their time. I am so blessed to have them share and be absolutely excited to expose local artists and makers. Deep down we are so interested in how objects are made, how an artist finds inspiration and curiosity in our world. We all want a part of that beauty and wonder.

So I take this moment to urge you to support your local arts council, if not with donations then with time and attendance to art events from music, theater, sculpture and more.

Here are photos from my reception, which took place at a local events space, 3865 South Main street in downtown Farmville.

I was really digging the exposed brick of the building.

I was really digging the exposed brick of the building.

The light that flowed in was wonderful!

The light that flowed in was wonderful!

Gotta have that fur to give emphasis to my jewels!

Gotta have that fur to give emphasis to my jewels!

To sum this all up, I’m incredibly appreciative and grateful for the opportunity my community and arts council gave me to share my jewelry with my friends and new town and I know first hand how much of an impact it has on my business. And someone like you that enjoys it, I hope that you’ll support the art council and artists in your city and region, you probably won’t ever realize how much it means to an artist.

Decking the halls with jewels

Lisette Fee

Not only is the holiday season about giving it’s also about the parties and celebrations. As a self proclaimed fashionista (tho less so now that I’m a SAHM/WFHM - stay at home mom and work from home mom) I LOVE holiday parties.

There is something to be said about putting on a glitzy dress/outfit with all the jewels and decking the halls with your friends and family. It’s magical, fun and wonderful.

Over the years I’ve had my jewelry featured in collections of outfits to help you coordinate and style your jewels. Here are some of my favorite press mentions of holiday outfits and jewels:

How gorgeous is this whole outfit, down to the perfume.  And when you’ve got  The Hunted triple crow claw ring  on EVERYONE will notice your hand and selection of jewelry.

How gorgeous is this whole outfit, down to the perfume. And when you’ve got The Hunted triple crow claw ring on EVERYONE will notice your hand and selection of jewelry.

As a former DC/VA resident I was so smitten they chose  the Hunted II owl talon cuff  with this badass outfit!

As a former DC/VA resident I was so smitten they chose the Hunted II owl talon cuff with this badass outfit!

Okay this isn’t necessarily a holiday outfit BUT it is great for lounging around with the family or when you meet up with friends for casual drinks.

Okay this isn’t necessarily a holiday outfit BUT it is great for lounging around with the family or when you meet up with friends for casual drinks.

This holiday season, whether you’re going out to the theater or to a holiday work party, dress up your outfit with jewelry. Jewelry ALWAYS amps up your outfit.

Get all your holiday shopping done at local craft shows

Lisette Fee

Wanna in on another secret holiday tip? Shop at local craft shows. And if you live in North Carolina you are lucky because there are SO many amazing shows happening before and around the holidays.

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Craft shows allow you to pick up a little bit of everything, clothing, jewelry, food, bath & body care, baby items, vintage etc. and the best part is that you are truly supporting a local economy (and hopefully handmade).

Okay so here is a run down of some of my favorite local craft shows and events:

  • Jaycee Park Holiday Art sale - Jaycee Park Center for Arts & Crafts is always a fav because they have such a wide range of makers and artisans AND it’s super affordable. GO ON: Saturday, Nov. 10th 10am-4pm.

    *Take the kiddos too and have them play outside or check out their art studios!

  • Emerge Gallery and Art Center - The Holiday Artist Market is Emerge Gallery's annual holiday sale featuring handmade fine arts and crafts by so many super talented North Carolina artists, many are good friends of mine. The gallery is set up in a boothstyle with each booth featuring one artist or business. The sale will kick off with a ticketed preview night on Thursday, November 30th, and the show will remain up through December 22nd.
    November 30, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
    Cost: $20 per person, $30 per couple

And as you may have guessed I try to participate in the best of these shows.


Above is my schedule for local shows. It’s my one of my favorite parts of the holiday season, getting out and meeting you! I hope to see you at one of these shows. we can share our love of jewelry and animals.

Music + Handmade = Good times

Lisette Fee

This weekend in Raleigh is the annual Hopscotch Music Festival,  so many great musicians and artists come out to share their talent and music.  Plus it's a fun way to celebrate the end of summer. 

I'll be there with my jewelry right in the middle of downtown Raleigh and it's going to be fun! I"m super excited - cause you know me, I love to get out and chat with friends old an new.  So I hope you'll come out on Saturday, September 8th from 12pm to 7pm for handmade and music!

I'll have my super popular bird bone rings and bracelets!

I'll have my super popular bird bone rings and bracelets!

What I love about Durham? Handmade and local!

Lisette Fee

I'm SO SO excited to be returning to Durham this coming Sunday, 12-5pm, for the summer Patchwork Market show!!  It's been several months since I've done a show and I really miss being out and about meeting people and sharing my love of handmade and jewelry.

If you've never been to a craft show or more specifically a handmade craft show (there are so many variations of types of craft shows) BUT they are so much fun.  The quality and craftmanship you get from handmade objects and jewelry are WAY better than what you get at the mall. 

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As a SAHM (stay at home mom) I get a bit lonely - as much as I love playing with my sweet girl, I crave being social.  Thus show time is a serious joy for me.   Plus I get to catch up with my fellow makers and bossbabes!

AND I get to shop handmade as well, seriously I do most of my gift shopping at the shows I participate in, because it is pretty amazing to connect with the person that hand makes your favorite mug, handbag, tshirt, print, jewelry and more. 

Now if you can't make it to the Durham Patchwork market you can always still shop with me online - wink, wink.  Because honestly my best pieces usually sell at these shows. 

Also check out my post on my 5 Eastern North Carolina Artists and Makers you should follow. My friend River of Rivtak is featured and she will also be selling at the Patchwork Market. 

How to style your jewelry this summer and all the time

Lisette Fee

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Make your jewelry the centerpiece of your outfit - a long necklace brings the eye inward, your hair pulled up shows off your new gemstone earrings
— Lisette Fee

You - my dear customers and friends are the ones that have showed me how wonderfully you wear and show off your jewelry.  The ladies above are all dear friends and models of EJ and you can do the same!

click the link below to receive more tips and tricks on how to style and use your jewelry in your daily life.

How I've juggled being a Momboss

Lisette Fee

It's been one year since I became a mom and it's been one fun, overwhelming and gratifying experience.  I've also somehow managed to keep my business going while caring for our baby everyday.  Even though one year is very little time, I thought I'd share with you what I've learned and how I continue to juggle two of my biggest roles. 

First off, it wasn't as scary or impossible as I thought it'd be.  And somehow my flow of work continued only with minor adjustments.  Nap time is KING! That is when I run around the house and my studio.   Whether it be working on jewelry at the bench, preparing and shipping out orders or handling administrative tasks.  Tuesdays are my full on work days, as my generous inlaws watch Tallulah all day.  My husband also watches her in the early evening and one day on the weekend so I can get more intense pieces finished.   It truly does take a tiny village to raise a tiny human!

My husband and I can't afford childcare and honestly, I feel so grateful that I can stay home and raise my daughter.  Most days it can get quite boring watching Sesame Street on repeat BUT I get to feed her the food that is good for her, take her for walks and generally enjoy raising her. 

My 'office space' in our second kitchen, it's part of the mother in law suite of our 1950's house.

My 'office space' in our second kitchen, it's part of the mother in law suite of our 1950's house.

I think the hardest part of working from home AND watching Tallulah is deciphering what to address as the most important and pressing need of that day as well as planning for the future.  I'm just now hitting my groove where I can finish work in my studio but also sit down and plan for the following weeks and months ahead. 

Now if you have any friends or family that are business owners themselves, you know that there are SO many facets to running a small business.  What has really helped me to not feel so overwhelmed is to compartmentalize each task.  For example, scheduling specific days for certain tasks.  Mondays I plan out the week and handle administrative work, Tuesdays are primarily studio days (finishing jewelry or wax work), Wednesdays I may follow up with clients, reach out to boutiques and press, Thursdays are for sketching, planning and working on new or current designs and Fridays are for doing any of the other tasks I didn't do earlier in the week.  Then on a Saturday or Sunday I'll working half or full days in the studio depending on the time of year, holidays are crazy busy so I definitely work on the weekends. 

Tallulah and I on her first birthday.

Tallulah and I on her first birthday.

I will admit though that lately I've come to a place where I'm viewing my business and goals from a new perspective and I'm thinking of changing the overall model of what I produce.  I absolutely love making one of a kind, highly personal pieces versus more production jewelry.  I think this is due to the fact that I can't churn out a ton of work because I also care for our child, which demands the most amount of time.  

I also acknowledge that over the years, my demands as a mother will change and so will my business, so I'm trying to be 'loose' with my schedule and go with the flow.  Which can be SO incredibly hard because at the same time, if I don't stay on my toes and maintain a consistent level of communication and new jewelry for my clients and customers then I won't keep that flow of sales which are essential to our household income. 

She doesn't even have to try and be cute!

She doesn't even have to try and be cute!

The pressures are there, but when I reflect on our life before Tallulah, it seems less bright and I wouldn't change that for the world.  Tallulah has given me a new meaning to life and I'm so grateful for that.

Thank you for following me on this journey and for reading my blog.  You can stay in more touch with me on my newsletter - sign up at the link below!

Do you want to play with fire?

Lisette Fee

It's that time, to teach classes at Emerge Pitt County Council of the Arts at the end of the month.  I really do love teaching these small classes, I learn so much and so do my students.

In the session I taught two years ago several of my students took it to the next level with their pieces.  One of the best parts of taking a jewelry/metals class, as well as teaching, is that making objects trains your brain to think in new ways.  You are actively challenging yourself to figure out how parts can go together and which way of connecting them makes the most sense.
 

My friend Carrie sanding her piece. 

My friend Carrie sanding her piece. 

These are all made by Caroline Hedgepeth in my class from 2016.

These are all made by Caroline Hedgepeth in my class from 2016.

In the pieces Caroline made, especially the enameled pendant on the left, she made two pieces and tube riveted them together (or that is the plan).  She wanted the texture of the piercing to overlay the splatter enamel she did. 

Even if you don't feel like you have a creative bone in your body (which in fact we all do) you will still love working with metal and making jewelry.  It's so much fun!

Sooooo, here's my pitch. If you live in the Greenville (Pitt county) area and want to learn jewelry making or take your jewelry to the next level - take my class! It's every Wednesday night, 6-8:30pm at Emerge Pitt County Council for the Arts.

As always, thank you for reading and stay lovely!
xo
Lisette

It's a clean slate

Lisette Fee

I'm so pumped for this year, it is one of the reasons why I love to the start to the New year, beginning anew. 

Maybe it's because I'm coming off from a relaxed time at my parents house this past weekend during New Years or that I've got new stones in the studio to play with.  Either way, I'm ready to take on this year with new projects, goals and plans. 

Goofing around in my studio during my shoot with Aileen.

Goofing around in my studio during my shoot with Aileen.

Albeit even with a sweet almost-toddler, she's now 9 months old! I know deep down that I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to, it just takes careful crafting of time and balance.

Some of my plans for this year I want to share with you. 

  1. Create a new collection! Hint, hint if you've seen some of the new pieces I've been posting on instagram with the Ondine element you'll see where I'm headed.
  2. Create a program for YOU to recycle your old metal (aka silver and gold - no bronze tho) that way we can recycle and reuse.  still working on this but stay tuned.
  3. Share more stone magic with you and how to incorporate your jewelry not just in your outfit but in ritual and mindfulness.
  4. Streamline my in studio processes, so that I'm more efficient and spend less time on repetitive tasks.
My biggest goal is to make it easier and more informative for you to shop on Eilisain Jewelry. I want you to be involved in the experience and it be customized to you!
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Every year I learn so much about how I want to run my business and where I want it to go, and what I've learned mainly from 2017 is that cultivating relationships with my customers/friends creates such a happy and positive experience for both myself and you.   Especially with those that are local. 

As always thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing more!

It's the month of EVENTS

Lisette Fee

Are you as inundated with holiday events and parties as I am??! Goodness, seems like every weekend there is something fun to do. 

Let me just add more to your plate, but truly it's options.  Let me preface that several weeks ago I went to Charlotte to sell at the Vintage Charlotte show and I had SO much fun! There were lively people, music, delicious food and most of all  - fabulous vintage and and handmade goods!

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Thus I am excited to share with you another opportunity for you to purchase more incredible local and handmade gifts.  Vintage Charlotte Pop, December 8-21st, a pop up shop organized by Amy Herman (organizer of Vintage Charlotte).  I sent a load of my cat claw earrings, the badger claw necklace and several other popular hunted and talon pieces.

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Soooooo if you live in the Charlotte, NC area please go and support local and handmade.  I can NOT stress it enough how much of an impact and financial boost shopping local is for our state economy.  You are putting money in your neighbors pockets and that is huge. 

As always thank you for reading and if you are in the mood now.... you can do some last minute shopping.  My last day for holiday orders is Friday, December 8th. 

The Holiday gift guide is here!

Lisette Fee

I'm seriously baffled at how quickly the holidays arrived....AND that it's time to get those holiday gifts.

I put together a short and sweet guide of some of my best sellers and new pieces to add to your holiday gift inventory. 

Some other very important dates to remember this upcoming Thanksgiving week:

Black Friday - November 24th - ONE DAY ONLY - 40% off EVERYTHING.  But you've got to be on my email list to get the code.
Small Business Saturday or CATurday - FREE pair of bronze cat claw earrings with any purchase over $100.  These make purrrfect stocking stuffers.
Cyber Monday - FREE Eilisain Jewelry stamped polishing cloth with any online order (trust me, you'll want a polishing cloth for all your jewelry)

One last thing - THANK YOU for shopping handmade and local this holiday season, you are pretty much helping your neighbor and community.  More revenue goes back into your hometown with dollars that are spent on local business. 

Ritual, Ritual - boutique feature

Lisette Fee

One of the best parts of being a small business owner is meeting all the other amazing makers and bossbabes of the world.  And I've met so much fierce owners out there that I have to highlight them - because without brick and mortar shops it'd be much harder for someone like me to get my jewelry out in the world.

Such a welcoming entrance to RR!

Such a welcoming entrance to RR!

So without much ado I want to highlight one of my favorite boutiques on the East Coast - RITUAL, RITUAL.  First off, I LOVE the name of their boutique because wearing jewelry is a ritual in and of itself and secondly it's in one of my favorite east coast cities - Philadelphia.  Angela Monaco, an amazing jeweler herself of Concrete Polish, initially opened RR for her jewelry but soon decided to rebrand the shop as a collective representing over 60 independent designers.   The shop also provides studio space for rent and a reiki and message therapy space.  One of these days I've got to visit this amazing shop because they are rare gems (pun intended)

I'm especially excited to share RR with you because they are celebrating their third year anniversary this weekend! You can check out all their fun events on their own blog.

I hope that if you live or are visiting Philly you take the time to visit and shop at Ritual Ritual, not only will you love all of their amazing jewelry, gems, clothing and objects you will be supporting a local small business that helps other artists and makers thrive.

Thanks as always for dropping by and reading!