Friday, October 05, 2018

Lisa Klein

Of course, I wouldn't interview someone I didn't like or didn't respect, but when I asked Lisa the same series of questions that I ask all of my entrepreneur interviewees, what I got back was inspiring and uplifting. This is another time that I will basically cut and paste what she had to say. She is just too eloquent and positive to butcher her phrases.

I have known Lisa Klein for some years, first from our workings at Texas Renaissance Festival, and now as friends and supporters of one another's work. She etches, she sketches, she enamels, and makes pretty things with stones. Her work is divided into three businesses although they do cross paths. IvyMoon is her main business. She makes geek-pins and fun things for the Renaissance folks. The Copper Bone, which started her entrepreneur empire in 2006, is where you can find unique and fun pet tags and pet jewelry. Her third branch is Ely & Ivy (pronounced Ellie) where she gets to have fun with more intricate patterns and jewelry ideas.
These Trekkie cats love their jewelry!
Here's what Lisa has to say about life as an artsy entrepreneur:
  • Did you go to school for this? 
I did go to school for this!  I have a Bachelor of Fine Art in Sculpture specializing in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from The University of Houston.  I was actually an Interior Design major.  My parents had lectured it into me that I must find an actual paying "profession".  At U of H, the Interior Design department was part of the School of Art.  As an Art major, we were required to take one semester in every specialized line of study.  So, my second year, after floundering through Interior Design, Drawing, and Painting, I was finally introduced to both Sculpture and Jewelry and Metalsmithing.  I was in heaven!  I had definitely found my calling and I informed my parents that I was going to change my major to Jewelry and Metalsmithing.  
Beautiful mandalas.
  • What is your favorite part of artsy entrepreneurship?
Absolute freedom and the people I meet.  I love being surrounded by other artists!  Every new person is an inspiration.  When I say freedom, I am only a slave to what I put upon myself.  If I want orders, I work to get orders, then I have to fill the orders, which can be very time consuming and take weeks at a time.  If I want to do a show, I just sign up for that show, which means I obligate myself to all of the time constraints, pressure to stock inventory, rules of the show, etc.  However, it is entirely my choice what I do and when I do it.  I know what I need to do to make my business successful and that's what I do.  There are days when I only work an hour or two (typically this is a bad sign because it means I have very few orders at that time!) and there are days when I work 18 hours just to get my items created for my customers.   The flexibility is very nice, the creative freedom is something I just crave.  I'm not sure I'd ever be able to give up my own business because I simply cannot give up my creativity.  It's not something  you just turn on and off.  
Badges of honor...
  • What is the worst part, or what do you fear?
Retirement.  Doing this on my own is tough and while I have job security (I'm never going to fire myself!), I work straight commission.  Which means I live sale to sale, twenty dollars at a time.  Every penny I make goes towards my living expenses or back into the business.

Right now I have a part time job that I love. I often think about moving along to another full time job with benefits and vacation time, but I know that even if I did that, I would never be able to give up my business. When I look at the jobs that are out there and consider that I've been running my own business full time for nearly eight years, I realize that even with the benefits of a steady paycheck, I still earn more at my own business, where I make all of the rules.   Then I think, "Wow!  What if I had a job working for someone else AND I ran my business??"  It's fun to think about the combination of both benefits and artistic freedom, but then... when would I sleep??
  • Self-care… It’s not always easy to be your own boss. What do you do to be kind to yourself?
I'm not someone who can sit still unless I am utterly, totally exhausted. Plus, I am an admitted television addict!  I learned to crochet from my mother and have taken that to an extreme with intricate blanket patterns, which is what I do to relax at home.  I make crocheted blankets while watching hours of, as my friend calls it, my "Stories."  I am obsessed with Outlander, amongst many other shows.  I also spend a few nights a week playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends.  As an avid reader, it's hard to find time to read, but I listen to audio books whenever I'm in the studio or in the car.  And finally, whenever I can, I spend time with my brother and nephews, who live out of state, and my father, who lives very close by!
Birthday gift, anyone???
Lisa touched on what I think is the hardest part for most self-employed artists, retirement and benefits that come with working for a steady paycheck for a company. We work when there is work, which is often far more hours than normal people because you never know what tomorrow will bring. It's a good thing we love what we do!

Lisa makes really beautiful things that would make your gift-giving struggles much easier!!  Check out her shops :-)

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