To Learn More about Anita Stevens, [click here] to view her Media Kit.
Janine Bolon: Hi. This is Janine Bolon with the Thriving Solopreneur Show. I am so thrilled that you were with us today, because I am lucky enough to be interviewing Anita Stevens. Now, Anita, you may be like, “Wow. What is so great about this chick. Well, just give me a few minutes to tell you just how amazing this woman is. She has been making jewelry pieces for over twenty years, and literally, this was a hobby that got out of control. It was started off as just a little hobby. The next thing she knows she has a whole room dedicated as a full-blown love affair, because of that one little thing that happened. She discovered rock shops. When she figured out that in these rock shops, basically, she could purchase real amethyst, real garnets, jaspers, turquoise, onyx, and so many other stones at such reasonable cost, her hobby just exploded. For the last few years, she has been introduced to the metaphysical properties of stones and now, really enjoys making pieces that have really special meanings for her customers.
Now, one of the things that really intrigued me about Anita was a quote I happen to read of hers. This is what she said, “The thing that most fascinates me about stones and jewelry that we wear is that unless you are wearing man-made or synthetic stone, these pieces are ancient. Crystal formations do not happen without extreme heat and pressure from deep inside the earth. The building blocks of the universe have been inside the molten core of the planet. By the time these crystals find their way to the surface so we find them, they are millions of years old. Basically, when you are wearing a crystal of my design, you are wearing stardust. The minerals have been around since the creation of the planet.” Welcome so much to our show today, Anita
Anita Stevens: Hi, Janine. Thanks for having me. That was a great introduction.
Janine: Well, you know, when I get excited about what people are doing and what they are creating, yeah, you bet. I am going to be definitely talking about that. I would love for you to kind of talk to us a little bit about this started off as a hobby. What was the trigger? What got you started in this process?
Anita: Well, it is kind of two or three different things that started me. My husband is from New Mexico, so he grew up among all the Native American art and jewelry out there in the southwest. Then, my son went out to Taos to live for a while, and was talking about how he would meet some artists out there and would work together. I said, “Well, you know what? I am going to try that.” My husband had done it before. He had been beading and he knew how to do some things basic. So I said, “Okay, I am going to start learning.” I just started putting together things and colors and designs and learned different ways to either string or put things on a wire. Like you said, it just grew once I figured out I could buy turquoise and jaspers.
Janine: Yes, once you found out “What? You mean I can walk into a rock shop and walk out with a bag of stones for a buck?” You know, or whatever, five dollars. Some of them are very extremely cost-effective for a jewelry maker. So yes, I am sure you went to town.
Anita: I did. Even though it is not a faceted and cut Tiffany quality garnet, it is a garnet. It still has the same properties and the same energy and everything so.
Janine: Well, and it makes your jewelry then much more affordable to those who enjoy such things, especially for folks who do not want everything to be faceted because there is a certain joy and loveliness of raw stones or slightly polished stones. Talk to us a little bit about that, about the type of clientele that you attract or enjoying the stones for their, as they say, naked beauty.
Anita: On my Facebook group and my page, I have done some polls and I say, “Are you a blingy person or you like the shiny cut stones?” Do you like the tumblestones or the rough nuggets?” “What draws you? Are you an earthy person or you a blingy person?” If they are a blingy person, I will try to combine the rough stones or at least black or rounded tumblestone with maybe a Swarovski crystal that offsets that color, that complements that color so. And then, the little silver and gold highlights in a little pieces that you put in there with it that can catch or if you even do hematite that is polished. I have got some little squares when you delighted to just start and direction. It goes a little bling, so it is nice.
Janine: Yes, so it does not matter if you are kind of earthy and you are not looking to attract the crow. Crows love our attractive jewelry out here in the desert southwest. If you are a blingy person, that works. But then, if you are earthy person, do you find that people really enjoy the wire wrapping that you do? Can you talk to us a little bit about that?
Anita: In the last couple of years, I started doing wire wrapping because I just like the way it looks and it kind of frees you up from just having to put beads on a string. You do not have to have the pre-drill holes. You can get work with it rough shapes and things that are not symmetrical. In fact, those are the best to wrap because they have little corners that grab the wire. I think it just shows off the stones. Some of those are just gorgeous.
Janine: Roughly, what are some of your custom pieces that you make. You make pieces that are what they called the fast grabbers at the fairs and stuff, the twenty-dollar or lower type of thing. I know you also do high quality very custom pieces. Can you talk to us a little bit about how you really take the time to custom make these pieces for your demographic, for your people or your clients?
Anita: Two particular instances come to mind and both of them were for weddings. Both of them are the mothers of the groom. One lady brought me an earring. She goes, “I have this earring. Can you make me a necklace that matches it?” We sat down and we started looking at these colors that she brought. It was a pearl and then a purple, like an amethyst color glass crystal. We said, “Okay. Do you want gold or silver? Do you want a single strand? Do you want a double strand? What are you looking for? How long does it need to be?” Throughout the process, I would take pictures and say, “This is what I have got together. What do you think?” She would say yes or no or add something here. At the end of that process, she had a necklace that she could wear to her son’s wedding.
The other lady kind of did the same thing except that she brought me samples of the dress that she was having made so I could see the colors. She wanted blingy. She wanted fun. She is a free spirit. You know, she wanted blingy. She wanted the rough stone. That was a fun necklace to make. We ended up making a triple strand necklace for her. But then, the wedding was going to be in Texas and it was going to be outdoors. She said, “I do not want to wear the whole thing.” I made her a separate single strand, like a choker almost, that she could take off the big, heavy part when she was outside and still have on the little short piece when she was outside.
Janine: I love it that you are making literally convertible jewelry. You have the stuff on the fly. One of the things that I have noticed, especially with the way you were describing your business to me earlier is that all of a sudden, you started seeing your creations as more than just a pretty necklace. Can you describe for us a little bit about that transformation? Because every business owner has that. They get into business, sinking their businesses going XYZ way, like very linear thought process. All of a sudden, the organic nature of nurturing that business happens and it grows into something else. Talk to us a little bit about that for your own.
Anita: It started getting into the learning more about the spiritual and the metaphysical part of the stones. And then, I just tried as part of the marketing process. I would make a certain stone if I wanted to do something for calming or if I wanted to do something for self-confidence. I would research that stone and make necklaces that had those properties. I have had people pick out a stone and say, “I have the stone. Will you please make me a necklace out of it?” Because they like the vibrations and the way it feels.
Janine: That is very common as you start getting into different types of areas or different demographics. All of a sudden, your business takes on kind of a mind of its own and you find yourself marketing what you do in a radically different way. What was some of your challenges when you were doing that? All of a sudden you went from “I am making jewelry and I like these stones and these colors look nice.” to somebody is handing you a very important crystal, in their world view, their paradigm, and they are asking you to do something with it. There must have been challenges with that.
Anita: It is just nervous about that I will do justice to the stone and if I can honor what the stone means to them and make it in a setting that they enjoy and it looks nice. It is just always “Are they going to like it? Is this going to turn out the way I want it to?”
Janine: Said every creative ever. Every artist, every author, every creative I have ever interviewed, they all have that same “Oh, I really hope they like this because I personally think this rocks.” As well, “I am thinking this is the best thing I could have done.” There is always wanting to make sure that you are taking care of your client. What are some of your favorite pieces that you have created?
Anita: I have a triple strand necklace that I made out of labradorite and that has become one of my favorite stones. I have a big, huge triangular crystal sitting on my table in my living room. I love the legend. I do not know. It is great. It is almost luminescent or pearlescent. Because if you hold labradorite up to the light and move it, the colors change. It goes from green to gold to the blues. I like the legend because it says it is fire that fell from the Aurora Borealis.
Janine: That is just cool.
Anita: It is just really cool. Because when you look at that, you can see the Aurora Borealis, the colors, the way they move across the sky. It looks like that in the stone.
Janine: Well, that is fabulous. See I am a mental midget when it comes to geology. People that are really into stones and rocks really know their stuff and you start rattling off all these words and I wait until you start talking color because that is where I am. I do not know what a lot of these things are and I used to teasing I had a girlfriend who was very much into geology and used to say, “Look. I purposefully avoided inorganic chemistry. I am an organic chemist mainly because you have a plethora of things to choose from. So this begs the question then, Anita, have you ever duplicated a piece of jewelry?
Anita: I have duplicated a design, but when you are walking natural materials, you can never duplicate the piece because each rock is different. Each stones going to be different. You can have the same look but it is not going to be the same.
Janine: Right. So most of the artists that I talk to, especially people like yourself who do design, who are constantly expanding their gifts, what do you do to still learn and create when it comes to your craft? Because like any art, it is always evolving. So, where do you see your business, your creation evolving to? Do you have a vision for that?
Anita: I do. I have a couple. I took a metalsmithing class last year. I learned that I need to start the first grade over again. I was supposed to make three rings. I made one and it is so time-consuming. How the artistry that goes into just making a simple ring of silver with a little stone in it is amazing. The other thing I want to do is just this weekend. I have had this in the back of my mind for a while, but this weekend, I had a lady call me that I have not seen for years, and she wanted me to make a necklace for her granddaughter. She likes her name. Her birthdays in April. She also likes like cord and not necessarily on a chain, like a ribbon or cord necklaces. I have been thinking about doing macramé necklaces for a while. This weekend, I practiced doing some hemp work, like braiding and doing a macramé. I want to try to start incorporating some of that.
Janine: Who knew we would be bringing the ’70s plant hanging macramé that some of us had to do in kindergarten and others are a little older than me and they go, “Oh honey, not kindergarten. I was doing this in high school. What are you talking about?” It is like one of those things. Who thought macramé would come back as an accessory for jewelry or something like that. It is been a long time for that craft.
Anita: It has been and and you can do like silk cords now instead of the rough macramé stuff that we used to work with. You can use the silk cording and it just makes it so shiny and free.
Janine: I have seen some amazing pieces of neck art, necklaces that are literal pieces of arts done with amazing natural fibers. When you see that starting to pop up on models in Paris, wow. We have transcended the blue jeans and peace-loving 1970s. We have gone to a whole new level with this.
Anita: There is a whole hold range of colors of thread and cord that you can use. I am going to start trying to incorporate some of that in my stones and work with that.
Janine: Well, it sounds lovely. Anita, thank you so much for sharing with us. With what you know now, what we try to do with the Thriving Solopreneur Show is you are at a point in your career where you are expanding, you are growing, you are learning, you are adding more skill sets and all that. What couple pieces of advice would you give to your younger self, like just starting the business? What are some things that you had wish you had known? Can you pass those on to people who are just jump starting their business?
Anita: I wish I had started earlier. I wish I had taken myself seriously.
Janine: What does that mean for you? Is it that you had a dream to do this and you just were nervous about starting it? What was the thing that kind of held you back?
Anita: Yes, it was a self-confidence thing. It was nobody is going to wonder. This is just something little pieces I put together in my kitchen or on my dining room table. It took me a while to get self-confidence out there that now, this is really nice stuff. Because people would tell me this is great. I love this. You need to be able to sell your jewelry. It took me a while to get the self-confidence to get out there.
Janine: I hear that occasionally if people are like “Yes, but this is just something I put together. It was for my own pleasure. I was enjoying myself. I almost feel like if I start to make it a business, I will stop enjoying myself.” I have heard that and I know that that is a way to keep you from doing what your dreams are, right? I know that that is an excuse. How did you navigate around that excuse that tried to rear its ugly head when you were first starting out?
Anita: I do a lot of reading of self-confidence, how to trust yourself. It took a while to do that, but it is getting there.
Janine: Now, you are making pieces for weddings. I mean, come on. That is saying something not just your buddy can make custom pieces for weddings when somebody says here, this is an earring. Would you make a three strand necklace? Oh, by the way, that is convertible so I can wear it inside and out. I am sorry that is like mind-blowing to me as somebody who does not do that craft, that art. That is amazing. Confidence is definitely key. So, definitely go after your dream. If you have an interest, make sure you are doing your hobby and make sure that you stick with it long enough so that yes, eventually, you will be able to start paying for your supplies. That is what I tell artist is like it is not about you making money so you can get rich. It is about you making enough money that you can continue to create, so you can continue to take the silversmithing classes. You want to learn another skill set. You want to make money enough so that you can continue on in your exploration. Say we have somebody out there that got an idea for this neat new jewelry making that that is their craft. What is a piece of advice that you can give them?
Anita: I am not sure I understand what you are asking me.
Janine: That is okay. I was just saying there is a lot of young people that listen to this podcast. What is a piece of advice you would give somebody who has a kind of a crazy idea? What are some of the books that you would recommend to read or what would you recommend to somebody just starting out with their art, with their craft?
Anita: Just last year, when COVID hit, it has become a real self-realization journey. I have started reading a lot of the like Florence Scovel Shinn and the secret and just started listening to a lot of people and a lot of the podcasts. I finally discovered podcast and it is just inspirational that teach you how to trust your own intuition and everybody here on this earth has something they can do. I cannot do what you do. You cannot do what I do. But you can do what you do. If it is in you and it is your idea, that is your path and have the confidence to know that that is your path.
Janine: And to go after it with both hands if you can and if you are working two full-time jobs or two part-time jobs that make it a third side-hack or something, but that creativity is needed, that beauty is needed on this planet. Say somebody is listening to this podcast and like I want to get to know this Anita Stevens a lot better, where do they go? How do they get a hold of you?
Anita: Well, I have a Facebook page and a Facebook group. It is Pieces of Earth for You, Pieces of Earth One-of-a-Kind Jewelry Design. It is a long name, but it is pretty specific. You can always email at [email protected]
Janine: Okay. There you go, [email protected]. That is Anita Stevens with us today. Thank you so much for being with us, dear. I appreciate you taking time.
Anita: Thank you, Janine. Thank you for asking me. It was great.
Janine: This is Janine Bolon with the Thriving Solopreneur Show. Please stay in touch. We broadcast every Friday. You will find a new show presented to you. Remember, you keep your feet firmly planted on this ground while you reach for those dreams that are in the stars. You can do it and we have confidence in you. Take care. Have a great day.