Today I have a lovely interview with the awesome Brandi from Catie’s Blue, one of my lovely sponsors!
Could you tell us a bit about you and about your brand Catie’s Blue? How long have you been in business? What made you start?
Hi everyone! My name’s Brandi, and I’m a jewelry designer based in the US, Texas to be exact. I had an accidental stumble into a bead store during a vacation, and it rekindled my love of jewelry design. I had dabbled with creating jewelry growing up, and I’ve always been fascinated with color, but it wasn’t until that moment that I realized I could have a career I was actually passionate about. July will be my four year anniversary, so I’ve been at it for a while now!
What did you do before you went into business for yourself?
I had a few jobs right after college, with the main ones being working for a global airline and then a stint as a sales representative for a direct sale jewelry company. The airline job wasn’t a bad one, but it wasn’t for me. And the sales rep job helped me realize that if I could sell other people’s jewelry, I could most definitely sell my own.
You make beautiful jewellery. What materials do you use and how do you choose them?
I focus primarily on using sterling silver, fine silver, gemstones, and artisan made lampwork glass. I realized recently that all of the art mediums I gravitate to are ones that allow me to play with color, so that was definitely part of the appeal for me. The other part was that it was accessible and familiar, both to me and to my buyers; creating wearable art is so attractive to me.
We have a focus of mindful living on this blog, how do you incorporate living mindfully into your business?
Mindful living is something that I can most definitely get behind! Actually owning and running a business of my own taught me how to live more mindfully in my personal life. Before Catie’s Blue, I wasn’t saving, I wasn’t planning, and I definitely wasn’t living mindfully in any respect. Starting a business brought that idea home; budgeting and thinking ahead are key to running a business, in my opinion, and that was a lesson that wasn’t the easiest to learn for me, but I’m glad I did.
As far as how I incorporate that into my business, the biggest thing I do now is only buying what I need or plan to use, rather than just buying to buy. I went a little crazy when I first started, buying tons of beads left and right. After a while, my inventory was excessive, and I wasn’t using even half of it! I realized then how much money I was wasting on a monthly or weekly basis.
So, at the end of 2009, I made a conscious effort to rein that compulsion in and to use what I’ve got before I buy anything new. Other than the essentials, I didn’t buy much at all last year, and that had a direct impact on my business. I then took that money and invested it back into my business through advertising and classes to improve my photography and business skills.
Do you have any advice for handmade sellers that are new to the game? What do you think is the most important thing for them to have when starting out?
Work on your photos!! They are so important to selling online. Work constantly on your techniques so that you can improve and evolve. Learn how to price correctly; so many handmade sellers don’t value their work, and then undersell themselves. Learn your country’s rules on being a legal business, and learn your postal carrier’s rules and prices when it comes to shipping. And give serious consideration to shipping internationally. International sales account for 40% of my business; if I ignored that audience, I wouldn’t have lasted this long!
Thank you Brandi! Brandi has just made the leap from Etsy and is now selling on her own website, have a look here!