Monday, October 4, 2010

Crafter Profile: Additions

This week's Crafter Profile is with Valerie William, the creative mind behind AdditionStyle on Etsy. In her collection, Additions, she creates unique and affordable pieces using hardware! The results are unique and certainly conversation starters, so enjoy learning a bit about her here and be sure to browse AdditionStyle on Etsy!

Tell us a little about yourself… Where you’re from? Art background? When you started making jewelry? Etc…

My name is Valerie, I am originally from Minneapolis. I have lived in New York City for 6 years, and now I currently live in Chicago, IL.

I have been creating most of my life, I learned to sew when I was 9 years old and I created everything from casual clothes, suits, coats, and dresses for years. I went to school for fashion merchandising and spent years in the retail industry.

I made jewelry when I was a teenager, but did not start doing it seriously until my mid thirties.

Like a lot of people, I took a jewelry class and fell in love with the design process. The day after the class I bought tools, beads and all the supplies I needed to make my own jewelry. Once I started making jewelry I could not stop. I began with beadwork; moved to wire wrapping and then sliversmithing. Many of my techniques are self-taught with a few classes in between to perfect my skills.

The important stuff — where can people purchase your items?

My jewelry is available on:

I also have a blog about inspiration, creativity, and business, that is updated daily

You can also visit me at

What made you want to start Additionstyle?

A few of years ago I was ready for a change and wanted to try something new. I wanted the opportunity to try a new medium, experiment with new techniques, and create jewelry and accessories that were young, fresh, and affordable.

What kind of jewelry were you making before you started the Additions collection, and do you continue to create jewelry in a variety of styles?

I still create sterling silver one of a kind art jewelry pieces. I sell these pieces at a few shows throughout the year and to a few galleries. I am doing less and less of this as my online business grows.

On Etsy you mention working with your daughter to start the Additions collection – how involved are both of you in continuing to design new pieces?

When I originally decided I wanted to do something different, I knew I wanted to create items that my daughter and her friends could afford.

She and I talk about designs all the time. I get her opinion on new designs, and what she thinks her friends would buy. Having her helps me keep the designs young, modern and fresh.

Why the name Additionstyle?

The name of the collection is Additions. When I started this collection I wanted it to have its own identity and when I was setting up my accounts online Additions was taken so I used my blog name at the time Additions Style.

When I was ready to name the collection my teenage daughter and I brainstormed ideas. She came up with the name Additions, which perfectly described the concept of adding accessories till you have the perfect look.

Where do you find inspiration?

The hardware is my greatest source of inspiration. I use a lot of recycled hardware in my work. When I go to the place where I get my recycled hardware it has mixed boxes of hardware, and digging through those boxes is a great source of inspiration for me. Working in my studio and going through my drawers of hardware is also a great source of inspiration. Just looking at the hardware always sparks new ideas.

Looking through your Etsy shop I noticed you occasionally incorporate materials other than recycled hardware – what are your other favorite materials to work with?

I have created a couple collections: Vibrant Hardware – which is a collection of hardware pieces with added color, Hardware in Bloom – which is a collection of hardware with silk flowers, and hardware with stones, lake stones, and gemstones.

I like to do unexpected things with the hardware and mix it with interesting things, but in the end I love working with the hardware itself. It is very inspiring for me and I love to come up with new ideas.

Out of the items for sale in your shop, do you have a favorite?

It’s really hard to pick a favorite. When I complete a piece it’s my favorite at the time, until I create the next one. If I had to choose a style, I love the pieces that have a variety of washers and chains.

What does your workspace look like?

I work in the basement of my home. For a long time it looked like a basement, bad light, junk everywhere and not a lot of space for my supplies. But at the beginning of this year my sister (she’s an organizer) came to visit for a week and re designed and organized my space.

I still work in the basement, but now I enjoy coming to my studio/office to work everyday. I know where everything is, everything I need has its own station, and I have all the things I love around me.

And finally, any advice you’d give to others who want to turn their creative passion into a business?

Create work you love. It is easy to follow trends and to design what you think people want to buy, but if you do it to make money only, it will become a job you don’t enjoy.

Keep learning. There is much to learn about creating, business, marketing, and selling. Take classes, read as much as you can, and participate in discussions on and off line.

If you love it never give up. If you have a setback, don’t give up, try it a different way, talk to new people, there is always something you can do, so believe in yourself.

It’s all hard work, and it takes time, so be patient. Always do as much as you can, never stop marketing online and off, provide outstanding customer service and the customers will come.

(interview has been edited)

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