Thursday, October 21, 2010

Interview with LauraStaley

Meet Laura Staley:
Who are you?
I'm a wife and mom first; I home school, teach 3rd grade kids in our co-op, and in my spare time, I'm an artist. It took me 38 years to call myself that, while I acquired the other titles in the meantime. I studied graphic design at the University of South Carolina, and landed in the sign business, and, consequently, Florida, in 1990. (Photo courtesy of Christy Whitehead
What do you create?
I create handcrafted jewelry and accessories from semi precious stones, and other beautiful materials.

What was the main inspiration for your shop?
I like to make jewelry that will make people look and feel beautiful. Jewelry is an accessory, but also a fashion statement. It can "amp" up a look and personalize it for you.

How did you come about your store name?
I wanted to tell it like it is...and connect my name to it. Since my customers often end up as my friends, I wanted a personal touch. The Internet can be so cold; but jewelry is very particularly personal, and the decisions to purchase and wear it are very intimate.

What is the crafting utensil you cannot live without?
My Round Nose Pliers. I really really like my tools, being a little of a tom boy at heart, I was really pleased when I picked them up again.

What is your favorite material to work with?
WOW. There are so many. Wire, semiprecious stones, other pretty stuff. Wire is especially intriguing. You can do so much with it.

What do you enjoy most about making the things you make?
Imagining what they will look like on the person that decides to honor me by purchasing them. Really. Sounds corny, but I try to visualize the end result. I usually start with an end picture in my head, and then try to make the piece match that picture.

What is your life like outside of Etsy?
We have a blended family. I have three kids from a previous marriage, and my husband Donald has three from his previous marriage. We share one, a little guy who is a delight and is the sparkle in everyone's eye around here. My oldest is in college, and I continue to home school my 15 year old and 12 year old, and my youngest is ready to start reading. I'm continuing the journey from the very beginning, again!

What is your favorite feature on Etsy?
The street teams are great. I find so much encouragement in the experiences of fellow artisans. Of course, the search feature is really useful, too. And the Treasuries are awesome!

What do you enjoy "window shopping" on Etsy on your free time?
I like to look for supplies, and browse fellow jewelry artisans' shops, to see what they're doing. I have my own style, but it's nice to see what's going on. I feel totally outclassed by all the talent on Etsy. Rather than an "arts and crafts" website, it's like a museum of the world's finest artisans and talent. I'm not easily overwhelmed, but Etsy and it's variety always stuns me.

Do you have a tip for other Etsy sellers?
You have to talk yourself up. All the time. Talk to yourself, encourage yourself, stay true to your work, but also talk up your product to everyone you meet. Facebook has been amazing for me in getting my name out there, and traffic to my shop. Don't think you have to do everything, though, just do what you can. The more you do, the more you'll succeed. Also, it's risky, but offer custom work. That's what's gotten me through the lean quiet times in my shop. Click here
 to see the custom work I've done through Etsy...

Is there an online "tool" that you like to use?
Facebook, and my blog ( have both brought business in for me. I've become reacquainted with high school and childhood friends who I'd never have found without it. They knew me then, and now that I'm doing this...well, that's great, too. We make the personal connection, but they also know what I do....
What other interests do you have?
I love to read, and to cook. Most Sundays after church we have friends over or go to lunch with them. I love to have people over to the house to share a meal, whether they're my husband's friends, friends from church, kids' friends, etc. I'd like to develop some painting skills. I painted a mural in my house that's not too bad, but I'd like to learn watercolor, and other mediums. I'm fairly political, too; current events draw me like a moth to flame.

Where in Florida do you live?
 Jacksonville; I've been here for 20 years! It's a close second to my childhood home of Columbia, S.C. Anywhere I go, I love the people. It's always people for me. The beach is nice, and the parks. The St. John's River is a bonus, too. Just a gorgeous city...

Could you recommend a fun activity near your Fl home that other members might enjoy?
St. Augustine and the beaches are too nice to ignore! If you're spending time here, I recommend a beach condo in St. Augustine, and then you could take a week to explore the historical sites and flavors. Plus we could meet for lunch!!

What are some other sites to find out more about you and your art?
my Facebook Fan page

Is there a funny/touching/sad story behind any of your items?
My maternal grandfather was a jeweler, and he worked with semiprecious and precious stones. Every time I craft something I think about him. He might not have been crazy about beads, but he had an intense attention to detail and professionalism that I admired, and it remains an inspiration to me today. My father was in business for himself, and I feel a connection to him when I'm working with my craft. I understand his drive, and his commitment, more when I'm busy doing what I love, just like he did. They both put their hearts into their work, and I've learned from that.

Last year I responded to a custom request for a lady whose baby, yet unborn, had a fatal deformity that would limit her life to a span of minutes or hours when she was born. The request was to create something for the mom as a keepsake or a memento that she could have and hold. I made a pendant with a flower, and the little girl's name inscribed. It was a labor of love. Her daughter lived for 45 minutes in the arms of her parents. I have four healthy beautiful children, and her story really moved me. I could not nor would have considered payment for the pendant. The very next week I was able to make a pendant for a soldier serving in Afghanistan -- it had his bride's name on it, and his sister sent it to him as a gift. That was another one I could not resist. It had Pay-it-forward written all over it.

How has the experience of handcrafting things for people?
People are so interesting! I've had mostly a positive experience with my sales on Etsy, even the custom items. I normally work with my customers extensively before I get started on their order, and most of the time things turn out the way we both envisioned. I like interacting with my customers at shows, too, where I can see their reactions and get their feedback on things.

What animal would you like to be for one day and why?
I've always wanted to fly. Probably an Eagle or an Osprey.

What “super” power would you like to have and why?
I'd have to say "super fast powers" - my little guy thinks he has that I can clean my house lickety split and have more time for crafting.

Where would you go if you had a time machine and why?
I'd go back to the Sermon on the Mount, and be part of the crowd. Or the upper room, on Pentecost. Two pivotal moments in world and eternal history, and just to be OR, to a lesser extent, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed; or the Constitution was ratified by the 13th colony. The world changed those days, too.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
I went sky-diving three times, that was fun...

Tell more!~~
In 2003, I listed a personal profile on At the time, I thought I was out of my mind -- it was just as intense as the first time I jumped out of an airplane -- the result was the day I met my husband for lunch, my first date after my divorce. I was shaking in my shoes, and scared to death!! It turned out well, though ;)

If you were a dessert what would it be?
Mud Pie...Coffee Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate Fudge, Oreo Crust, whipped cream, cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. YUMMY! It has everything... it's the total package!


  1. What an incredible, incredible interview-I would only BE so lucky to be able to do some of what Laura has done :)

    I enjoyed this interview so much! Thank you for posting it.

  2. Great interview and so very nice to meet you Laura. Your designs are beautiful!

  3. Wow, thank you so much! I'm overwhelmed and outclassed by the talent on Etsy, and this street team! You guys are awesome!!

  4. This was inspiring! I loved the pay it forward stories, they gave me chills...Your jewelry is lovely and so well designed, Laura!
    I'm on way to browse your shop!
    And Rose from Recreational Art, your questions are so intriguing and thought provoking, what a great interview!

  5. I just looked at Laura's blog- lovely and well designed is an understatement! Awe-inspiring, stunning and spectacular would be so much more appropriate. Wow!

  6. Wonderful interview with Laura. I didn't know she is such a woman of courage!!


  7. You are a beautiful lady inside and out! Touching story about the custom order for the mom.

  8. This is a fantastic interview! I really loved the pay-it-forward stories as well as the one where you met your husband.
    Lovely work.

  9. Great interview, Laura. You are extremely talented. Hope I meet you one day. We live so close. Maybe the Morocco Show?

  10. Really nice interview you are so open and personable! Thanks for sharing with us!

  11. Loved the interview, you have lovely jewelry Laura!

  12. WOW, I'm blushing! I'm surrounded by the most amazing and talented people. Thanks so much!