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Many consider jewelry-making to be an art form, as it allows people to demonstrate their creativity through tangible products that can be worn, or gifted to a loved one. Today, we’re highlighting our self-taught jewelry creator, Brenda Manea. Not only does she spend her days developing strategy and landing impactful coverage for her clients, she also manages her very own Etsy store that’s a hit! We’re so excited to tell you more about how she spends some of her spare time creating.
So what got you started in jewelry making?
I’ve always embraced my creative side, whether it was painting or drawing, or making those friendship bracelets that required heaps of colorful string and extensive knot-tying knowledge (anyone remember those?). I repurposed this creativity into writing while I was in college, taking a break from my arts and crafts. After I graduated, I began working at BAM full time and eventually had the urge to dive back into my artistic roots with a hobby. About two years ago, I attended a yoga retreat here in San Diego and noticed vendors selling these intricate mala bead necklaces comprised of beads made from different types of rocks and crystals, knots between each bead and tassels acting as a pendant. I immediately purchased one and began examining how it was made, then thought — “I can totally learn how to make these.” That’s where it all began.
What were your next steps?
After inspecting the piece a bit more, I jumped into my car and drove to Michael’s art supplies store. I went through the jewelry aisle and shoveled a bunch of beads, string, tassels and crystals into my basket, not having much of a plan around what I was going to create, yet starry-eyed and excited to dive into something new.
I turned to YouTube to learn the basics, and ended up making a truly crappy necklace on my first go (fun fact: this necklace is still hanging from my rear view mirror, as a memento). My second necklace was notably stronger, and I began to learn about what materials work best, and those that cause my necklaces to fall apart just days after they were created (those are gone forever, promise).
From that point on, I explored with metal chains and pendants, and mixed them in with the original beads and crystals I had, producing various types of jewelry that would diversify my store. There’s no limit to what I’m willing to make now, as I love combining different styles to make something unique, rather than mimicking what’s already out there.
What keeps you going, and how often do you make these pieces?
Etsy is one of my biggest motivators. While I’ve always been creative, this is the first time I’ve ever even considered selling my creations. I thought to myself, “why not try and make money off of something you love doing?” Each time an organic order came in, I’d get a new wave of motivation, as this told me that people actually like my work. What a confidence boost!
What’s the name of your Etsy store?
It’s called CREA Co.
How would someone get into this hobby/business endeavor?
I'd say, just drive to a jewelry store and see what catches your eye, then go home and start messing around with it. Trial and error is the fastest way to learn anything new, as doing something yourself is far more impactful than reading about it or simply watching others. Eventually, you’ll learn about the tools and tactics the pros use to make their high-quality creations.
Is there a future for you in professional jewelry making?
Yes! We have a culture here at BAM that’s encourages every single person to always be learning something — whether it’s work-related or purely personal. One of the goals I’ve set for myself in 2019 is to take a professional jewelry making class. I’ve experimented enough on my own and am ready to up-level my skills with formal training.
For now, I’ll stick to Etsy. Maybe one day you’ll see my creations at your local Nordstrom. Talk about reaching for the stars!