I am so excited to announce that at the end of each month The Creative Mom Collective is going to be featuring one inspirational mom who is getting out there and pursuing her creative passion professionally.
Our very first Featured Creative Mom is Jennifer Vinje. She’s the jewelry designer and goldsmith who owns Anueva Jewelry. She’s an amazing woman living in Seattle, Washington with her husband and two beautiful children. Jennifer and I went to college together and even worked together a bit after graduation doing Public Relations work before stepping into different career paths. She and her husband started a wedding videography business in 2010 and actually filmed my wedding! (The video is amazing and still makes me cry! See it for yourself!)
Being familiar with her entrepreneurial spirit and knowing how creative and talented she is, I wasn’t totally surprised when I learned that Jennifer started making jewelry and founded Anueva Jewelry in 2016. Her company specializes in eco friendly fine jewelry using reclaimed vintage diamonds and recycled gold.
I got a chance to ask her some questions about her business, being a creative mom, and how she pulls it off:
So what got you into jewelry making and when/how did you decide you wanted to make a business out of it?
I started taking goldsmithing classes about a year after my first child was born. I was still working full-time shooting and editing videos and felt that video production was more my husband’s passion than it was mine. I’d loved handmade jewelry since I was a little girl and the discovery of the Etsy platform was eye-opening to me. I actually found encouragement from an Etsy seller that I purchased a diamond necklace from. She told me that it was a slow growth for her, but worth it. That, met with support from my husband and help from his mother who watched my daughter while I took classes was everything I needed to get started. I formed my company then and started gaining access to precious metals and gemstone suppliers but didn’t get a chance to really start focusing on selling my designs until after the birth of my second child in 2016.
How did you settle on the name Anueva?
I love the Spanish language. In Spanish, “nueva” means “new.” I’m an avid recycler and eco-lover, and I thought of the word “Anueva” to represent how my jewelry is something old, made new. Old diamonds are removed from old jewelry and the gold is refined to be made into a new piece.
What’s the biggest challenge for you as far as being a mom and pursuing your creative passion?
There is nothing that is *not* challenging about being a mom and pursuing your own dreams. As a parent, you are met with a daily struggle to squeeze in your own needs as you are also trying to foster the growth of your family. I personally cringe when I hear the age-old saying, “don’t lose yourself in motherhood.” How? How is that possible to prioritize time for your own needs and your own dreams when your children aren’t yet school-aged. For me, it was an emotionally exhausting and frustrating process over the past few years as I had this dream of starting my jewelry business but also dreamed of these beautiful children. I remember telling one of my friends not long after my son was born that I wasn’t sure if women really could be more than just moms. It often feels all-encompassing. I faced postpartum depression and anxiety, feeling trapped in motherhood while I had this fire inside me to be creative in my art. Last year I found a window through the dark and pushed through to take just one more evening class, learn the last things I needed to start creating sellable pieces. Having this creative outlet saved me.
In 2016 I cared for my young children at home during the day and worked every night until 2am while the babies slept, designing and breathing to life my first diamond earrings collection and opening my Etsy shop. Friends and family hired me to create pieces for them and I was honored and thrilled to repurpose incredible vintage diamonds into new jewelry. I landed my first dream collaboration with Sacred Legacy Arts (makers of breastmilk and DNA keepsake jewelry), and my young shop Anueva Jewelry was selected among thousands of established shops on Etsy to be featured as a “Featured Shop” on etsy.com.
I often side with the anti-feminist feminists who believe that feminism doesn’t mean a woman should “do it all.” Often women take on the responsibilities of child rearing, housekeeping, cooking while also working full-time. I did that for a couple years and nearly lost my mind. For me, I feel like “having it all” is having a break from it all to do one thing at a time. It was my goal for 2017 to be able to afford good childcare for my babies during the day so I could work without distractions while they are cared for in a nurturing, kid-friendly and educational environment. I feel no guilt or shame in having them in daycare! Tomorrow I take my son to his first day at Toddler School and I know that compartmentalizing my time working and my time with my kids will be so much healthier for me and for them. I can pick them up at school around 3:30 with a couple hours to play before dinner and they’ll get a happier, less distracted and clear-headed mama (I’m hoping). One who can put down her phone for a bit and roll around in the grass.
It took some hustling to get my business to the point of being able to afford childcare for two, but the risk will be worth the reward, as I’ll be able to grow my business more.
You’ve built quite a presence on social media! Talk a little bit about how participating in social media looks in your day-to-day life and what it does for your business.
I am so glued to my phone! It’s something I’d like to work on doing less, but as I tell my husband, the instant feedback of customers on Instagram and Facebook is an incredible tool for a creative! I don’t need to pay for a brick-and-mortar shop when I can sell pieces directly through posts and messages on Instagram.
I post two to three times a day on Instagram and publish it through to Facebook. For most of my posts, I use photos taken on my “big camera,” the camera I use for filming weddings! Get a good DSLR camera or the newest iphone and don’t be afraid to use apps to edit your photos to make them look as nice as possible. The nicer and more interesting your photos are, the more likes they’ll get! Make sure to use all of your allowed hashtags, keeping only a few in the caption and stacking the rest in the comments.
For any creatives that are new to Instagram or aren’t seeing a growth in their following, I recommend starting something called a “Boost Group.” Get a bunch of your creative Insta-friends together (or Facebook, if that’s your preference), and make a pact to be supportive of one another. When one of you posts, go to that post and show support in comments and in likes. It works wonders for the engagement of your posts and also for collaborative efforts and morale. “Collaboration over Competition” is the name of the game. Make friends! Find ways to collaborate and work together. Through these friendships and new endeavors, you’ll see your followers grow.
What does a typical work day look like for you? Where are your kids when you’re working?
Until now, my kids have been with me all day. I drop my daughter off for only a couple hours a day to preschool while I am at home working on the computer with her brother in the room, or just playing with him until we pick up sister. Sometimes I do errands dropping and picking pieces up from my stone setters, but my uninterrupted work time was only while they napped or while they slept at night. Most of my wax carving and polishing, finishing, metalsmithing was done at night. That worked for about a year until I became too tired and too burnt out to work late into the night. Then I knew it was time to bite the bullet and sign them up for childcare.
Now I’ll be able to drop them both off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. I briefly met with a therapist who told me to not work through naptime as a lady boss and take a break, but I felt like I couldn’t take her advice since it was only one of two times I had during the day to work!
I know that caring for the environment is something that is really important to you. Tell me how you do your part to care for the earth through your business?
Yes, it is so important to me to do all I reasonably can to create fine jewelry with minimal impact to the environment. My favorite gemstones are reclaimed from old jewelry because they are essentially recycled. They are graded by gemologists and sometimes certified, and sold back into the market for jewelers like me who try to provide sustainable staples for our customers. The gold, silver and platinum I use is always reclaimed from old jewelry and refined to be used again. Some pieces are made with a percentage of recycled gold and some are made from 100% post-consumer recycled precious metals.
In addition to these eco-friendly materials, I also make one planted tree donation to Plant-It 2020 for every purchase made by my customers. Trees are the lungs of our planet. They help clean the air and they play an important role in our water cycle. I like knowing that I can add more lungs to the battlefront in this war on pollution we have going on.
If you had one bit of advice for a mom who is interested in starting her own business, what would it be?
I am not a very patient person. So I believe everything would probably be easier with patience. Be patient with yourself and patient with your children when you’re having rough days, when things don’t seem to go your way. If you can make your business work while you’re watching the kids from home full-time, that’s awesome. If you don’t *want* to watch your kids full-time while you’re working on your business, that’s okay too. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for pursuing your dreams. Set your kids up for a healthy, nurturing childhood that doesn’t compromise your own health, even if it takes time to get to that point.
Any advice for would-be jewelry makers out there?
Take all the classes you want! But even better, find someone to let you apprentice with them. The best classes I took were apprenticeship-style. I was able to view more of the day-to-day work of a jeweler than just snippets of practice projects in a classroom. Buy all the books, watch all the Youtube videos and make friends. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I spent several months just absorbing information about all the different techniques available to make the pieces I had in mind.
Thanks so much to Jennifer for answering my questions! I hope that this post has inspired you all like it has me!
Know someone who you think should be a Featured Creative Mom on The Creative Mom Collective? Shoot me an email or Facebook message!
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