Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Interview - Jessica Van Den

Jessica Van Den is a jeweller and creative entrepreneur extraordinaire. Not only does she handcraft beautiful sterling silver jewellery but she blogs about running a creative business, she's the editor and publisher of *bespoke* magazine, she wrote popular e-book Etsy Success Stories and runs the Crafty and Connected e-course. She also speaks at conferences and seminars about using social media to grow your business. There's only one thing I want to know. When does she sleep?! I'm so excited to present this interview to you today. Welcome, Jessica!

Jessica Van Den (Photo by Paul Harris of Seesaw Photography)

Tell us a bit about yourself, your work and achievements.

I'm a country girl from South-East Queensland, and I am lucky enough to be a full-time creative entrepreneur working out of my home studio in a green, bird-filled valley. I make eco-conscious, modern sterling silver jewellery under the brand Epheriell; blog daily about beautiful things and how to have a bountiful business on; I also publish *bespoke*, a print magazine about all things creative and crafty, which is available online and Australia-wide. In my spare time (ha!) I love to read trashy urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels on my kindle. It's my way of switching the work-mind off - candy for the brain!

Did you always want to work creatively since childhood or did you come to it as an adult? What steps did you take to make it happen?

Oh gosh, I was the least creative person in existence as a kid/teenager! At least in the traditional sense - I did love building websites. I fell in love with the internet in 1996 and have been conducting a long and torrid affair ever since. It's unsurprising I've finally worked out how to make my living using the internet, really.

I was actually on-track to become a research scientist, but life happened and I realised I didn't have the necessary laser-focus and passion to become a scientist (because that involves becoming very, very knowledgeable about a very, very specific topic, and I'm a multipotentiate, so I would have gotten bored real fast), so after gaining a teaching degree I worked in numerous education-related jobs during my 20s. It was in my late 20s that I started crafting as a hobby, and I discovered that I LOVED working with my hands. My enjoyment of Manual Arts back in early high school probably should have been an indication of this, but I had my sights set on an academic career, so I never gave it much thought.

I'm a much, much happier lady now that I've discovered my creativity - and worked out how to turn it into a full-time gig!

Ampersand earrings from the Epheriell shop

What gave you the idea to start Bespoke magazine? Could you give us a quick run-down of what's involved in putting together an issue?

I'd been blogging at Epheriell Designs for a few years, and I just suddenly got hit with this desire to create a print zine - something beautiful, tactile and inspiring! It was a huge learning curve as I have NO publishing or graphic design background, and I really had no idea about how to make a magazine, but I got there with LOTS of help from amazing people - like my graphic designer Mikaela Danvers.

Honestly, there's no such thing as a break when you publish a magazine - you're either selling the current issue or dealing with the next one. Each issue I have to corral submissions, find advertisers, contact stockists, send out newsletters via email, work with Mikaela to put the zine together, work with the printers to get it published, hand-number each copy, deal with subscribers, post issues out... it's never-ending, but awesome!

[Image source]

Could you describe a typical day? How do you balance your work on Epheriell and Bespoke magazine with blogging, running your e-course and other commitments such as administration and promotion?

I wake up around 7:30-8 and my husband Nick makes me a cuppa while I check emails and social media sites on my laptop from bed. Morning admin usually takes 1-2 hours, then I'll either head into the next room to work at my jewellery bench for the day, or, if it's an admin or *bespoke* day I'll move onto my desktop and work there through the day. Throughout the day I'll check email, tweet, instagram, facebook etc.

A few afternoons a week are spent packing orders, after which I send Nick off to the Post Office so I can keep working. I'll stop to go for a run or do some sort of exercise late afternoon before dinner, and after dinner I'm usually back on the bed with my laptop, multi-tasking (and writing blog posts) while we watch TV. We're currently working or way through all prior seasons of Dexter! I usually go to sleep around midnight, after reading a little in an attempt to switch off the old brain.

Sculptural Arc ring from the Epheriell shop

Please list five blogs, websites or actual places you visit to feel inspired creatively.

Pinterest is always somewhere to find pretty things!
I'll often browse Etsy to find lovely things to blog about.
Behance is a great place to find new creative talent, too!
On my run - giving my brain a chance to come up with new ideas.
In the shower - ditto above.

What is your process of coming up with new ideas (both jewellery design ideas or business ideas)? And what are your favourite tools/materials for creating?

Oh, there are so many ways that new ideas come to me - out of the blue, after seeing a picture, from nature, from a particular gemstone or bead, from listening to my customers... the inspiration is endless, really!

My favourite material is obviously sterling silver, in all its forms. And my favourite tools would be my hammer and anvil!

Jess at work (Photos by Paul Harris of Seesaw Photography)

Thanks so much for joining us today, Jess! Your achievements are nothing short of inspiring.

Please visit Jess at the following places:

EpheriellDesigns blog
Epheriell on Etsy
Epheriell shop
Jessica Van Den's website
*bespoke* magazine