I'm happy to give the spotlight this week to Libby Hopper, a jewelry maker from Detroit, MI. Her jewelry is seriously gorgeous, I have a soft spot for her stacking rings! Read on to find out about her and her shop!
Being a small business owner myself, I love to hear the origin stories of other makers. When and how did you decide to start your own business? What is your creative background?
I’ve been artsy pretty much since day one. In kindergarten my favorite subject was “messy art”. This naturally led to me being an art major in college with an emphasis on graphic design (it seemed to be the most practical choice). After college, I realized that a career in graphic design might not be the route I wanted to take. Sitting at a computer all day didn’t seem very appealing to the maker in me, plus, (selfishly) I realized much of graphic design involves creating media that is geared much more towards what a customer wants than what I want to make. I wanted the fun part of a creative career! That was when I started playing around with jewelry. I think I was unconsciously looking for a creative outlet for a while, and one day a friend came over with a box of beads and wire. Our craft session really inspired me to explore jewelry a bit further. After that jewelry became my hobby and I started a little Etsy shop with my creations.
How did you decide to focus on your medium & style?
It was a very gradual process. I started out making repurposed necklaces out of vintage items, and eventually my shop expanded to other repurposed jewelry items and vintage pieces. I was always curious about other jewelry making techniques though – ones where I create the entire piece “from scratch”. I ended up moving from Michigan to NYC 4 years ago to break into the jewelry industry and learn more about the craft. After scoring a job for a jewelry designer (and watching her in action) I became interested in wax carving and metalsmithing. I took a few classes in Brooklyn and realized it was something that I could do – it wasn’t the unattainable goal it always seemed to be. At this time I’m still learning and I am open to other mediums, but I think I’ve found my true jewelry love.
Have you set any exciting goals for yourself or your business for 2015? What can we look forward to seeing from you!
I actually left NYC at the end of 2014 to live in Detroit and focus on my business full time, which is very exciting! It’s a great city for makers and much more affordable for a small business starting out. I’m so lucky to now have my very own (perpetually messy) studio that I can work in every day – in New York my “studio” was a small Ikea desk in a corner of the tiny bedroom I shared with my boyfriend. Now I've somehow managed to fill a whole room with my jewelry stuff.
My goals this year are to create a sustainable business, and to get my jewelry line carried in as many stores as possible. I’m also doing a lot of markets and fairs – most exciting is the Renegade Craft Fair. I’ll be there in Brooklyn on June 27!
Another fun project I’m working on is a new Etsy shop selling vintage goods. I have an addiction to thrifting and I keep finding treasures I want to share with the world. I already sell vintage jewelry along with the handmade jewelry on my current Etsy site, but I’m expanding to vintage home goods, craft supplies, etc. in the new shop. It’ll be launching in June and will be found on Etsy under QuartersCo.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their own self-made business?
Celebrate little victories, and try not to get discouraged when you have set backs. And don’t compare yourself with other people/businesses! It will only bring you down.
When you're not creating, what do you love to do?
I love reading sci fi and historical fiction novels, tending to my houseplants and going to estate sales!
Lastly, can you share three of your favorite artists / small shops?
Douglas & Co Detroit (gorgeous leather goods), Moira K. Lime (I’m desperate to own one of her rings!) and Clare Elsaesser (lovely painter – I own a few of her prints).
Find Libby and follow her adventures here: