“I think making interesting jewelry is more important than making beautiful jewelry. By that I just mean that beauty can be found in unconventional shapes and designs, textures and colors.” What a wonderful attitude towards the world around us! These words are the reason that Donna Jo’s jewelry is so unique; wonderful shapes and colors that just seem to work perfectly.
The reasons for creating is as varied as the artists that create the work. For Donna, she was determined to educate herself on a nickel allergy and learn to create jewelry that she could wear! She found that with a nickel allergy, most jewelry would irritate her so she set out to crack the code when, during a beginners jewelry making class, she learned that her allergy is not so uncommon as she had thought, that there were materials she could work with and wear, and the desire to spread the word to others with her same allergy.
Donna currently lives in Des Moines and was raised by parents of the depression era which they learned to make do with less and to appreciate others. These lessons hit home with Donna Jo and she has carried this make do and make it for yourself attitude throughout her life. She loves yoga, singing and spending time with her family. She is a substitute teacher and truly works to find that perfect balance between family, spirit and body which seems to be a disappearing art in our ever faster world.
Donna knew from the start, unlike many artists, that the pieces she wanted to create were destined to be sold. She apparently has a practical side since she felt that she could not justify the cost of the materials and tools she loved without getting something back for them! She also knew, after a bit of research, that others would appreciate all that she had learned about nickel allergies and what makes her jewelry line so different and Naturally Nickel Free was soon born.
Donna Jo loves to sell her work, knowing that they appreciate the care and craftsmanship that goes into each piece but believes with all her heart that her first customer ever gave her the greatest push to pursue her business. This customer loved her work so much that she bought multiple pairs of earrings and booked Donna Jo for a jewelry show! Now, many are in business for years before they attempt a show, but undeterred by all that she didn’t know, Donna Jo happily agreed and set out to learn all she could. This lesson carried her through a number of craft shows where she learned that having a face to put with the business is so important to earning people’s trust.
Donna Jo happily offers encouragement to others considering selling their own handmade treasures but cautions that if this is what they are going to do they can’t “try half way!” You have to go all in or not at all. Also, she asks that they understand that it is not about what you sell, but about the customers that will make your business thrive.
Donna Jo has been on a whirlwind ride learning new techniques as well as how to use social media to market herself. She says that the adventure into selling has been less about business and more about reinventing herself in the process! What a wonderful attitude to have about life! She is both “puzzled and amused at how life can change and yet stay the same.”
So, are you ready to see what one talented and determined woman can do when she puts her mind to something? Well, Naturally Nickel Free is easy to find online on Artfire, and SupaDupaBoutique as well as her gallery on ItsBetterHandmade. You can check out her personal website which includes a wonderful gallery of her past work as well as her blog and on Facebook.
What is the moral of the story? Don’t let anything stop you from growing and learning. You just might find that you have a talent never before explored which will take you in a direction you never planned for.