Meet Staci Egan. This instructor and designer was looking for a creative way to feed her soul – she found it with jewelry. Since starting Contempo Jewelry in 1999, Staci has been featured in a variety of publications and loves working with imperfections because they give each piece of jewelry a unique character. Read on to learn more about this freshwater pearl and semi-precious stone jewelry maker.
Introduce us to you.
Hello, I’m Staci Egan the owner and designer of Contempo Jewelry – a company I started in 1999. I’m originally from New Jersey, but now I’m living on a couple of acres just outside of State College, Pennsylvania.
How did you get your start as a maker and what do you make?
I started making jewelry after the birth of my son. I was young, lived far away from family and my husband worked a lot so I was feeling lonely. I bought myself a handmade necklace online and thought, I can make this! I found that being creative fed my soul – it was something for me during a time where most of my attention was focused on my son. Since then I’ve become a small batch jewelry designer and instructor specializing in wire working techniques featuring semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls and assorted conflict free metals.
Have you always had a creative side or did someone help you find it?
I was always creative, but it was something discouraged when growing up. My family didn’t have a lot of money, creativity often kept me occupied. I wasn’t into playing video games, reading books or watching TV. Playing make believe games outside or making paper dolls was my entertainment.
Have you turned your passion for creating into your day job?
I left my job in 2008 to run Contempo Jewelry full time and I couldn’t be happier. As most creative souls – I was in love with the concept of creating and selling my work. But was that realistic? I have bills, a mortgage, car payment… I made jewelry for fun, sold to friends and at local craft shows. I had big dreams of selling in galleries, selling at high end art shows, maybe even owning my own shop one day. I worked full time as a waitress in a high end restaurant. I made good consistent money and I believed that was important, but I was very unhappy.
One day I had a co-worker tell me about his father-in-law. He was a successful pencil artist. His work became very popular after his death, but he was poor during his lifetime. Now people make documentaries and books about him. I mentioned how jealous I was, didn’t want to be “waiting tables”. He told me I was living the “stereotype”. This is what was “expected” of people like me – we wait tables and hope for that “big break”.
Right then and there I realized that I have control of my life and my future. I can’t sit around and hope for a great opportunity, I need to create it. I set goals and began working on achieving them. A few months later, I quit my job and took my jewelry full-time.
Do trends help guide what you’re creating? And if so, how do you identify them?
Not really, I generally expand on existing designs. I like to have minimal supplies on hand, so I try for find variations of current pieces. Maybe use a different metal or add a new design element. I like to experiment and test them in the market.
What trends are you seeing pop-up right now?
I think people are appreciating unique handmade and vintage pieces at shows and online. I think it is all about character, you don’t get that in mass produced pieces.
Who (or what) gets you excited about the work you do?
I honestly love the business side and accomplishing goals. The creative process has always came fairly naturally. The business side is more a challenge for me and I find challenges exciting.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
To be patient, it takes time to grow a business. It is common to make something and have friends and family buy from you. They encourage you to sell on Etsy, do craft shows… It takes a lot of time to grow. It definitely doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work at it everyday.
What goal(s) are you working toward?
Nothing exciting, tuning up my photos and descriptions on my various platforms. I love to come up with new products, but also update my best sellers. Sometimes my web presence needs updating.
What’s your creative mantra and why?
To be thankful daily. I am thankful to create pieces I love, to work for myself and thankful people want it.
What’s on your studio playlist?
My go to is a Beck station. I like guitar focused alternative, 90’s alternative and rap.
When you’re not creating what are you up to?
I like to garden, lunch with friends and listening to podcasts.
Makers make the crafting world go ‘round. Are you a maker who wants to be featured on Darice? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re looking forward to meeting you!
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