I met Lisa at the very first Arts on Market event in Chapel Hill NC in 2017. I fell in love with her metalsmith wearable art. I approached her with a ‘pie in the sky’ idea. I intended to build an online shop and curate beautiful and unique products from women entrepreneurs. This was almost a full year before the Kuel Shop was opened. Lisa took a chance and said ‘YES’ to me.
This week I am honored to introduce you to Lisa and her one-of-a-kind pieces. Seriously, you’ll see on the Kuel Shop there is ONE of everything. Once it is bought; it’s gone. It’s yours and you won’t see it on anyone else. Talk about an amazing gift with a story.
Read Lisa’s story on why she became a metalsmith, an entrepreneur, and what she struggles with still.
KUELLIFE: What type of business do you own/run?
LISA: I am a Metalsmith – I work with sterling silver and copper, along with enamel and various types of stones and beads, to create one-of-a-kind, wearable art jewelry.
KUELLIFE: What prompted you or drove you to become an entrepreneur? When?
LISA: I’ve been a visual artist and educator since 1995 I started out as a potter, making mostly functional stoneware. I took my first metal-smithing class at Sawtooth School for Visual Art in 2000, and worked in metal for a bit before returning to clay. In 2014, I had a diagnosis of endometrial cancer, and while I was in treatment, I returned to working with metal at Sawtooth. I now have my own studio at home, where I have room to spread out and experiment any time I want.(Sawtooth has a fantastic metals studio, but I’m a night owl, and they’re closed when I like to work, LOL.)
KUELLIFE: What turns you on most about your gig?
LISA: I am all about the one-of-a-kind. Even when I was a potter, I never got into production work. I’d do a dinnerware set, for example, but it just about killed me, having to make allllll those pieces exactly, the. same size/shape/color. (I don’t know how the Seagrove potters do it!) Most of my fabricated metal work has a stone of some kind in it, and I really like the freeform shapes best. With my enamel work, I am all about the color combinations! I’m learning new enameling techniques all the time, and I love figuring out how to incorporate that into my pieces.
KUELLIFE: What’s your biggest struggle?
LISA: Figuring out how to do all the things! I need to have continuing education in order to grow my skill set.I need to source materials and make pieces to sell. Not every idea is a successful one, but when I get something right, I need to photograph it, edit the pix, post to social media, update my sales page, participate in f2f sales events, rinse, and repeat.
I have a friend who is a lot more organized than I am. She makes new work 3-4 days a week, and the rest of her work week is photography, sales, shipping, and posting to social. I want to be her when I grow up.
KUELLIFE: What is your biggest fear as an entrepreneur? How do you work through it?
LISA: I think my fear is probably ubiquitous among entrepreneurs – our goal is to do what we love and make a profit such that we don’t have to go back to working “for the man”. The fear is that I’ll do all this work, invest all this time, and energy, and money, and NOT be able to sell my work. The only thing to do is to keep making, learn new techniques to keep my work fresh and new, and scope out new sales opportunities wherever I can.
KUELLIFE: How do you measure your success?
LISA: If I make work that people like enough to invite into their homes and wardrobes, then I have been successful.
KUELLIFE: Finally, what advice would you give other women about taking an entrepreneurial path?
LISA: Think about it A LOT before you take the plunge. Try to work out all the angles you can, because even when you think you’ve got everything figured out, something will jump up and bite you, LOL. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so keep that in mind, as well. You may enjoy immediate and sustained success, but you may not. Be prepared for the “not”, and when you ARE successful, ride it as long and far as you can.