The Response To My Work Is My Biggest Turn On – Susie Aoki

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I stumbled upon Susie’s jewelry on Instagram about a year ago. I immediately fell in love with her mixed metals designs. When I approached her through email asking her to become part of the Kuel Shop (back when it was only an idea); she responded enthusiastically ‘Yes”. Susie has believed in the Kuel Life mission from the get go.

Susie shares with us why she became an entrepreneur; what turns her on about making mixed-metal jewelry, and her joys and fears as a woman supporting herself through her art. You can shop Susie’s jewelry on the Kuel Shop.

Read Susie’s story:

KUELLIFE: What type of business do you own/run?

SUSIE:  I make jewelry, mostly from mixed metals. I sell it online, in galleries and shops, and, in person at art shows around the country.

KUELLIFE: What prompted you or drove you to become an entrepreneur? When?

SUSIE: Before making art, I worked a corporate job—and while I was at an exciting company during a dynamic time in the industry, I always felt like a fish out of water. After moving to rural Oregon and leaving my cushy company job, my husband, mother-in-law and I found ourselves making paper lamps and selling them at the local weekend arts and crafts market. And from there, one thing led to another and my husband is now a sculptor, his mom is a fiber artist, and I ended up working with metals and making jewelry. I’ve been self-employed since 2002 and still can’t believe we’ve been supporting ourselves with our art so long! It’s hard to imagine what my life would be like if we didn’t take the chances we took to get here.

KUELLIFE: What turns you on most about your gig?

SUSIE: So many things! First, I really love the freedom. Since it’s my gig, I get to decide what direction I want to go and I get to make all the decisions on how to get there. Also, even though it’s the most responsibility I’ve ever had in a job, it’s the most joyful work I’ve ever done. But maybe the biggest turn-on is when I’m selling at an art show and I get to watch people trying on my work, seeing how great the pieces I made look on real live people.

KUELLIFE: What’s your biggest struggle?

SUSIE: Ugh, I have so many. Maybe the biggest is keeping abreast of what I need to do to stay visible and relevant in this era of technology and social networking. I’m pretty old school that way.

KUELLIFE: What is your biggest fear as an entrepreneur? How do you work through it?

SUSIE: Again, I have so many! But maybe one of the biggest is that I will lose my creative excitement. Because once the excitement is gone, ideas and everything else will go too. I work through this fear by keeping things fresh and stimulating. Scheduling playtime in my studio and learning new skills, both, work wonders and keep the joy alive.

KUELLIFE: How do you measure your success?

SUSIE: By the way people respond to my work. In person, it’s the look on someone’s face when they try something on and fall in love with it.  And when it isn’t in person, I’ve received emails and notes from people that totally make my day…they make me that much more excited to go into my studio and work. When someone loves the way something I made looks on them, it’s going to make them feel good when they wear it, and the fact that I actually created something that is appreciated in that way…well, that’s just the best feeling ever. 

KUELLIFE: Finally, what advice would you give other women about taking an entrepreneurial path?

SUSIE: I guess the same advice I give to myself every time I have a creative/business/life idea but am too hesitant to follow through for whatever reason. And that is that this life is once and it’s getting shorter every day. I don’t want to be 98, wishing I would have done this or tried that. If I can picture an idea turning into a regret, then I figure out a way to make it happen.

SHOP SUSIE AOKI’S JEWELRY LINE: PURCHASE WITH A PURPOSE

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