Eileen Goddard is a jewelry designer who owns Imprint By Eileen. Here is a link to her webpage:
Q: How did you get into jewelry design?
A: I have always been a creative, artistic person who likes to make things by hand. I worked in the world of theater for almost a decade up until last year—when my theater closed for renovation, I used my unexpected unemployment as a chance to build my own creative business. I turned a depressing time in my life into a fun adventure—I have learned so much about the jewelry and business worlds in the past year that I can’t even imagine where I’ll be a year from now! And that is very exciting.
Q: Who are some of your designer influences?
A: I am inspired by places and people most of all. I love to travel, and I take any opportunity to people watch and soak in the landscape and materials available in that particular place. I’m also lucky to be in NYC—it’s easy to find inspiration here, whether it’s in the architecture, the museums, street fashion, or graffiti. Or something else completely—there’s a lot here. A specific company that inspires me is Raven + Lily—they work with impoverished women artisans around the world to create their lines, and a portion of each sale always goes back into those communities. The jewelry they create is beautiful, and I love that each piece tells a story—the story of the place where the piece was made, the story of the woman who made it, and so on.
Q: What makes your designs unique?
A: I am really big on custom orders—whether I’m designing a brand new piece for someone or just adjusting the length of a chain or using a different gemstone, I like to make things special for my customers. It’s as satisfying as it is fun to do—I do it all the time at my boutique. If it’s a quick thing like shortening a chain, I’ll do it on the spot. If it’s creating a custom statement necklace for a special event, that might take a week! I also always make sure to offer my customers affordable prices, even on my custom work—I think beautiful jewelry should be available and accessible to everyone!
Q: What is the most challenging thing about running your own business?
I think the most difficult part is being both my own boss and my own (and only!) employee. I’m responsible for making every decision for my business, from how much money to spend on advertising, to designing and printing business cards, to updating my website and planning special events. And that’s not even the part where I design or make the jewelry! So it’s a lot. Sometimes I wish I had a partner who could help out with the workload, or just someone to bounce ideas around with. That being said, it is also a unique process that can be a lot of fun and very rewarding.
Q: How does blogging help your business?
A: I think it helps people get to know me and my company. At first, I felt like I didn’t know what to write about, and so I ended up not writing very much at all. Now I don’t worry about that so much–I just write. I write about everything, from day to day business activities to new designs that I’m working on. I also like to write about decisions that I’m trying to make. Sometimes it helps just to write it out—I’ve found that often, you’ll end up answering your own question. So that’s one way blogging directly helps me make sense of my own business sometimes!
Q: What is the worst fashion mistake a person can make when it comes to jewelry?
A: I think the biggest mistake is not being true to your own personal style. Don’t feel like you have to follow every trend—but at the same time, don’t be afraid to wear something that’s outside of your comfort zone if it makes you feel good! I think sometimes people forget that jewelry, and fashion, is really supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to make you feel good about yourself—confidence really is the best accessory!
Q: What are some of the fashion blogs you read?
A: I love reading local designers’ blogs—jewelry as well as fashion. Wendy Brandes’ is one of my favorites, maybe because she combines both worlds! She’s a fine jewelry designer who also blogs about fashion, and you can find her here: http://wendybrandes.com/blog/
Q: What is your favorite material to work with?
A: I love working with gemstones of all kinds. I’m really inspired by the colors and textures that occur naturally, and I love finding different ways to use the different stones. I love the look on people’s faces at my store when they ask what materials I used, and I get to tell them the stories of the specific stones that were used.
Q: What is your weirdest work story?
A: People do all kinds of weird things in my store! One of the strangest was a woman from Spain who accidentally handed me a $100 bill instead of a $10. When I showed her the mistake, and helped her find the right bill, she was so grateful that she gave me a small box of religious relics that she had brought with her from Israel. I’m not a religious person, but I didn’t feel right throwing them away. That box is still somewhere in my house…
Q: What was the single best piece of jewelry you have ever seen?
A: That’s a tough question. There are so many artists who have made (and continue to make!) really amazing things. I love to go into the museums here in New York sometimes—especially the Met—and look at all the ancient jewelry that was made centuries before modern metalsmithing techniques were developed. Now THAT is some impressive jewelry!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)