First up is my friend (and cousin), Nicki Knudsen, of Buzz Beading.
Below is a photo of my own collection of Buzz Beading jewelry!
Here’s my interview with Nicki:
When did you start Buzz Beading? October 2007 was when I first opened my website.
How long before that had you been making jewelry? I started making jewelry when I bought some sodalite chips to make an ankle bracelet to match a ring that was my grandmothers. Since then I haven’t been able to stop!
Where does the name Buzz Beading come from? I had a close friend, Becca, who passed away when I was a senior in high school. I got a tattoo of a bee for her since the first letter of Becca is ‘B’. I collect bee stuff and whenever I am making jewelry I have a bee on my desk. That’s where the name Buzz Beading came from.
How do you advertise or promote Buzz Beading? Mostly it's through people I know. My mom is my number one customer, she wears a lot of my jewelry and people are always asking her about it. I have also give her some of my business cards to hand out!
Who is your audience? Mostly women. I have a few men’s pieces and a line of children’s jewelry, but those only really sell well around Christmas.
Do you have a favorite experience since starting Buzz Beading? I have to say doing home parties are very good business, I do very well and have never made less then three figures at a party! Also I made all the jewelry for the girls in my wedding party when I got married and everyone loved it so much that I am still getting compliments as our third wedding anniversary is coming up this august!
What is the most difficult part of running your own creative business? The most difficult part really is that the economy is so bad right now, no one has any money to buy things for themselves as a treat.
What is your creative process like? It starts most of the time from finding one bead or material I want to work with, then finding other materials to work into the piece. Once in a while I will be inspired by a piece somewhere but mostly I make one of a kind pieces, so 90% of my stuff no one else will have a copy of! Although, I have made several pairs of a few earring designs because they are so popular.
Favorite materials to work with? Gemstones, swarovski crystals, lampwork glass beads and silver findings.
Favorite materials/colors to wear yourself? 90% of the time it's anything silver, the other 10% is copper or gold. Also I usually only wear bracelets I make myself except for a silver bangle or my Italian charm bracelets. A lot of my bracelets are made from pearls and glass beads.
What are your influences? Mostly colors. I will find one color or gemstone that stands out and then work around it with matching colors, metals or sharp contrasts that go together well.
Any crafters or jewelry makers that inspire your work? None in particular, once in a while I will see something online or in a magazine and be like, "Hey I can make something like that", and then make something inspired by it but always different and I add my own creative touch.
Any other hobbies? I love scrap booking, helping my husband design and string beaded rosaries for people, and I've been working on making bags and folders out of playing cards. I also love creative writing. I have written short stories and am working on writing a book for teens, but I’m in a very bad writers block so I’m focusing on other crafts right now.
Do you have a favorite piece you've made? I've had many.
Did you sell them or keep them for yourself? I've sold some and still have some in my shop. But I do have a favorite I designed just for myself, I love it and wear it often... it's a charm bracelet made out of plastic charms with different Indian gods/goddesses on it and in-between it has bright colored gemstone chips. It's a one of a kind piece so sorry to say no more will be made.
Have your techniques or aesthetic changed much since the beginning of Buzz Beading? Yes, when I first started I had the basic ideas down, then learned little things to make my pieces strong and last longer. I've learned what people like and I'm not afraid to have them give me suggestions of things they like. I also have learned cool things I didn’t know from beading books and websites about beading.
Favorite places to buy supplies? artbeads.com (they have free shipping), limabeads.com (you can buy half strands of beads which is wonderful if you are on a budget to buy more expensive beads), Michaels craft stores and firemountiangems.com (I don’t order from them often, but they have a large selection and they always send a free gift).
Favorite childhood craft project? A lot of stuff. Mostly making decorations for the holidays, it was a good way for my mom to keep me entertained and to make cost effective decorations
Favorite movies? Top 5: Outside Providence, Revenge of the Nerds, Labamba, Godspell, Field of Dreams
Favorite music? Mostly religious and Country, like Rascal flatts, The Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood. I have also been really into Alanis Morisette lately. Oh and I can't forget Crystal Bowersox from American Idol... cant wait for her CD to come out!!!
Favorite websites? Haha, it sounds dumb, but webkinz... I am so addicted and I play all day long. It's such a good stress reliever because of all the silly/fun games they have!
Favorite restaurant? South Side and Cruisers Malt shop... both local here in Gardner MA!
Its 10pm, what are you doing? Playing Wii with my husband, watching one of my favorite shows or chatting online with one of my best friends.
Where would you like to be in 10 years? Mostly just selling my jewelry, and hopefully having a book published and being a mom when the lord decides to bless us with a child.
Any advice for others who plan on starting their own jewelry or craft business? It's a lot of fun working on something you love, and the gratification you get when people compliment you on your hard work is great. Also, if you make jewelry for example, wear a piece you've made just about every time you go somewhere... someone will always comment on it and then tell them you made it and you sell jewelry, then give them a business card. It's a great way to get customers and free advertising. I would have to say though, the number one thing is to be patient, you’ll have some down times and other times you’ll do really well.
(interview has been edited and condensed)