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Blog

Filtering by Category: studio

How becoming a mother changed my perspective of 'work' and life balance

Lisette Fee

Over the course of the past two years of being a mother I’ve been through a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. Some days I’m at peace with my new role and other days I feel complete overwhelm and anxiety.

I’ve posted on my blog several times about my journey and how I finally came to some peace with the fact that there won’t ever truly be balance. And I’m sure so many other moms have the same feelings, what I think is unique about being a stay at home mom AND running a small business without much child care is that it can take an incredible amount of patience, flexibility and community help to get through the the long haul.

One significant factor in my coming to terms with the role of motherhood and working from home is my mindset has changed incredibly. I’ve listened to podcasts that encourage meditation, working smarter and less, creating rituals that ensure productivity.and mindfulness. I’ve also just allowed myself to take time to rest and relax.

AND the major part of all of my changes in mindset is my daughter Tallulah; toddlers have a way of forcing you to be present and incredibly patient. Toddlers will TEST you like no other and in the end you begin to understand that they are simply curious. And that curiosity is immensely beautiful and grounding.

You might be thinking, ok Lisette we get it, you’ve accepted being a mom and a boss, what’s that have to do with me?

I share my experience with you because I know we all struggle with balance and just BEING, and knowing that perhaps in the moment there can be anxiety, stress and overwhelm but if we acknowledge that it isn’t us - any situation that we’re in is one we’re experiencing but it doesn’t define us.
— Lisette Fee

Thus here are photos of me in my studio, garden, meditation space and most importantly of all photos of me with my pookie, Tallulah.

Tallulah loves flowers and being outside. It’s our daily ritual to walk all around our town.

Tallulah loves flowers and being outside. It’s our daily ritual to walk all around our town.

Watering our vegetable and herb garden.

Watering our vegetable and herb garden.

Tickles are the best with a little person.

Tickles are the best with a little person.

Rose in hand, surrounded by jewels.

Rose in hand, surrounded by jewels.

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While Tallulah naps, I work!

While Tallulah naps, I work!

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Tallulah loves playing in my meditation room.

Tallulah loves playing in my meditation room.

sorting through tarot cards and rune stones.

sorting through tarot cards and rune stones.

I hope you enjoyed this post and an inside look into my studio and life. And thank you as always for supporting and following Eilisain.

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.

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.

Juggling being a mom and a boss babe

Lisette Fee

For some reason it's really hit me over the past several weeks how overwhelming it's become to be a stay at home mom/working mom/part time worker.  Maybe it's because Tallulah is now 5 months old and we're reaching the age where she's really becoming a person, aka laughing, smiling, babbling and almost eating real food.  I lay in bed at night mulling over my business, how to be creative and make it all work.  I know, it is a bit unrealistic to 'make it all work' because really it won't ever be perfect.  And I can't have one part of my life be fantastic without one chunk of it taking a hit.

Tallulah and I on a mommy and me lunch date.  She was about three months old.

Tallulah and I on a mommy and me lunch date.  She was about three months old.

And I want to share this with you because I want to be transparent and also provide some background as to why it's taking me SO long to get new designs and pieces on the website. 

I also know that as a consumer myself, I like seeing new and fresh ideas come from the makers and people I support as well.  I'm slowly learning how to schedule my free time, with sketching, creating, organizing my studio and workspace along with finishing custom orders, regular orders AND the upcoming holiday show schedule.

...a giant swell of emotion came over me - I am doing what I love, what I envisioned close to twenty years ago when I was only dreaming of becoming a creative person.

I volley between feeling completely overwhelmed and lost to determination and resolve to prioritize my time.  What usually ends up throwing my confidence is when I do the comparison game, and knowing that there is SO much that I want to improve with my business.  Then my mind spirals into an abyss of all the tasks I want to accomplish. 

So here it is folks - it's going to take me time and understanding to get to a place that flows.  In the end I have to say that I'm incredibly blessed with a supportive family and worklife that allows me to spend time with my daughter as well as run a business that I love.  Last week, as I sat at my desk journaling these exact same feelings a giant swell of emotion came over me - I am doing what I love, what I envisioned close to twenty years ago when I was only dreaming of becoming a creative person.  And I knew in that instant that I am willing to fight and work incredibly hard to keep my dream alive. It may sounds cheesy but in this current world where many individuals feel helpless or unworthy, one can not take for granted the opportunity to do what you love. 

I hope that this post gives you encouragement to follow your own dreams, because it is worth it.  Allow yourself to dream to incredible heights with limitless possibilities.  It is what gives the rest of us hope and light.

thank you for dreaming and allowing me to dream!

So you want to be a jeweler?

Lisette Fee

Over the past several years, I've seen some of my best and favorite customers turn into burgeoning jewelers.  And some have contacted me with interest, asking for advice and insider tips on how to become a jeweler.  And it got me thinking, why not give you, my dear readers insight and thoughts on what it is to be a jeweler and what our world is like. 

In my old studio at Art Avenue.

In my old studio at Art Avenue.

Have you seen that Portlandia episode, ages ago where she decides she's going to make jewelry and then realizes it's a whole lot more work than it appears?

Often times I feel like that is how HUGE the profession of jewelry has become.  It's a very big market and it seems to continue growing.  Of course, that was sort of me ten years ago, however I knew that I wanted to be a long lasting and distinctly different jeweler.  So I made the big decision to go to a school and learn metalsmithing and jewelry.  In addition, I took the advice from my father, that once I made this career and life changing decision that there was no turning back, it was either all or nothing.  Because honestly, it was a big investment in my future (taking out student loans and debt).

With that said there are some points I want to make on what it is to be a jeweler and a small business owner.

  • It doesn't happen overnight or even within three years to five years.  It takes a long time to establish yourself, build credibility and gain a following of customers.  I used to get so frustrated in my first year because I wondered why I wasn't making as many sales as I hoped.  But if you preserve and constantly work hard you will be successful
  • LEARN, LEARN and LEARN some more, not just from jewelers but from other small business owners and those that are successful. 
  • My no. 1 biggest piece of advice in regards to jewelry is to hone in on what you love and what you're good at and make that your centerpiece of your jewelry/business.  Whether it's beading, casting, working with wood or whatever it is, make yourself an expert in that. 
  • Learn as much as you can about running and maintaining a business.  My favorite place to get this information is from podcasts and business blogs.  And if you're not good at accounting or marketing, hire someone, it's well worth the money.
  • Talk to jewelers and those that you admire, ask them for advice.  I am always super honest and frank about my struggles and success, so feel free to ask me if you want!
  • LOVE and nurture the supporters and customers that buy from you.  These are your cheerleaders and they will share your work with their friends and family.  It's all about quality versus quantity.  Your first customer is likely to be your second customer. 

I could write a book on this...but I'm not a writer! I hope this helps and you enjoyed my brief post on the life of a beginning jeweler.  If anything, I hope you love the clip of 'She's making jewelry now'!!

Happy Monday folks.

The nesting period is over

Lisette Fee

I'd be remiss if I didn't elaborate more on my pregnancy; despite being my own boss I still answer to someone and that's you!  With that said, I'm due any moment now and I'm quite thrilled, nervous, scared and ready.   And I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts and plans on this new phase in my life. 

Tallulah's room.  I had such a fun time decorating it.

Tallulah's room.  I had such a fun time decorating it.

As an artist and jeweler I create for a living but now I'm creating something that will be my most precious treasure and it will change everything.  The most beneficial part of being my own boss is that I work from home (most of the time) and I'm so incredibly blessed and thankful for that, I'll be able care for Tallulah and have the flexibility to work in my home studio.  Yet it'll be a balance of juggling home life and work life all in the same space. 

What changes can you expect with your Eilisain Jewelry orders?
I'm taking three weeks of 'maternity leave' - it won't be official as business never really stops but I will be more removed from social media posts and marketing.
With that said, it will take me a bit longer to respond to inquiries and direct messages, perhaps 2-3 days.
I will of course continue to take your orders, as I've already prepared stock inventory and new one of a kind pieces ready to ship.  It may take a bit longer though for select pieces of jewelry.  And as you know I'll communicate with you the timeline of your order.

Leading up to the pregnancy it's definitely been a bit of struggle using my hands, which I didn't think would be an issue.  No one really talks about the bloated and swelling feeling you can get in the latter stages of pregnancy.  As well as being constantly tired.  It's been frustrating as I'm used to being able to run around and get things done.  

I think I was about 30 weeks pregnant in this photo. 

I think I was about 30 weeks pregnant in this photo. 

It's a strange feeling carrying another life in your body and feeling the movements.  It'll be strange when she's actually born to meet someone that has been in the womb for nine months.  I've been reading as many books as I can get my hands on, reread them and imagined what it'll be like holding her and as you'd imagine, it probably won't compare to the real thing.  I've compared it to taking a test or preparing for a marathon, you can train and study all you want but you won't know the experience until you actually have it.

Anywho, I wanted to share with you a little bit of what I've been going through personally.  And those of you that do know, thank you so much for your constant support and generosity - it has meant SO much!

As always thank you for reading.