Saturday, December 20, 2008

What is Style?

I was browsing early this morning-can't sleep because of a slight toothache-and I came across this article that talks about my first improvement point from my last post:

It's a great article and it pretty much validates what I've been thinking all along. I often wonder however, what separates style from trend and can you ever incorporate the two in order to reach a larger consumer base without alienating loyal customers. For example, if you've ever seen a United Colors of Benetton ad or have seen the tribal photography of National Geographic I'd say I pretty much like that style. Many of my family and friends (and some of my local customers) are into styles like Baby Phat and Rocawear. They've always expressed admiration for my work whenever they see a new creation of mine. Nevertheless , its often been a struggle to modify my jewelry to fit their taste without compromising my own creativity. How do you feel about this? Feel free to post your thoughts and comments.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Year Older and Wiser...I hope

Today is my birthday and for the last few days I've been reflecting on how my life's path is going. Right now I feel at peace about where I am spiritually, mentally and with my family and friends. At the same time I also feel a sense of urgency and motivation to go on to the next level with my business in jewelry making and design. Lately, I've been reading a book called Crafting as a Business by Wendy Rosen and I'm beginning to find it to be a very resourceful tool.

My jewelry, at first, was offered to myself, family and close friends. Soon others that noticed my work started to want to buy my creations. After a while I finally got up the courage to do my first small home party and to my surprise it was successful-that is, I made a small profit-enough to treat my family to a pizza dinner the next night, at least. I was still working out my pricing formula and it seemed that I was selling jewelry just to have to buy more supplies to make more jewelry. I wanted to get out of that cycle. Not only that, I was struggling with trying to figure out my packaging and business image, how to obtain materials at a wholesale price, figuring out how to obtain a business licenses, and so on and so on...

I finally sat down with a mentor of mine by the name of Elizabeth Agte. I'd attended a workshop of hers once that taught PMC and I regularly visit her booth whenever she does Artwalk. She pretty much broke it down for me-as far as obtaining a DBA in NY, how to avoid overrated craft shows that would have more resale vendors than crafters and how to avoid consignment shops and boutiques that would have your creations sitting in a pile of dust or becoming "lost"while they pushed sales for their "friends" and colleagues artwork.

Joining Etsy was and still is a sort of experiment for me. I wanted to see for one thing if people besides my closest companions would be interested in buying my work. I also wanted to see how others who also created jewelry were pricing their work. I've learned a lot from selling online but to be honest, I wish that when I first started I would have been more prepared. I actually studied Etsy as well as other eccomerce sites to see how things were done for a whole year before I opened up shop and I still had not put everything that I needed to in place.

Some things that I would have done different in the beginning:

1. Streamlined and developed my product. At first I was all over the place making things just because I knew how. I realized after a while that I needed to focus on a certain style for my work...something that would make my items recognizable to people. This does not apply just to the product but also to the details from the packaging to the business cards.(I'm still working on the details☺)

2. Find my customers. I know there are people out there like myself who love the eclectic, primitive, ethereal, natural, artistic sort of bohemian look(that's a mouthful). I just needed to find who they were and what they were willing to spend for my jewelry. My very first sale on Etsy was for a customer in Australia-a place known for its tribal art and influences.

3. Finding the value of my work. I was barely making a profit at first and I knew I had to reevaluate my prices if I was going to try to make this work as a business. I created a list of materials that I would use that would bring value to my work. For example, in my SCJ shop, I am using only sterling silver, raw brass and gold filled beads and components, gemstones,pearls natural beads and natural fibers. Any other materials or components placed in my work will be secondary-the majority of each of my jewelry pieces will consist of the more valuable material. I watch the silver market and keep up on the latest offers from my suppliers to let me know when is the best time to purchase more. In the near future, I plan to incorporate quality karat gold and other items (a surprise) into my work. Along with the time,techniques,methods and design process that I go through, I am able to come up with a fair value for my work which gives me a good profit and gives my customers a piece of my artwork at a good price.

These are just three things that I have or am working on. I'll be discussing more in the future (you'll see an opinion poll pop up once or twice here in the coming year). I'm anticipating that by my next birthday that I'll have become even more attuned to the needs of my customer base and how I want to represent myself and my work to the public.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

About Baby Dragon

Let me introduce you to Baby Dragon. I've only mentioned her once briefly in my very first blog post but now I think its time that you've become more acquainted with her...

Baby Dragon started out as a little girl born in 1992. My daughter, LaNina when she first emerged into the world came out crying and growling. Afterwards, whenever she was hungry or needed a change she would start up with her signature growling and huffing cry. My family promptly nicknamed her Baby Dragon. At age 16 she has long since grown out of this but the nickname still stuck. Of course she's forbidden me to use it in public.

Baby Dragon has now become collaborative works created by me and my daughter. These works can range from jewelry to house decor. We've decided to house our shops at two sites; one at Etsy and the other at Ecrater under the Shannon Cintron Jewelry site. Our weekly trips to the local craft store are a real treat for us. We love experimenting with new materials and equipment and we especially like to reuse and upcycle things. Because jewelry making is our favorite creative outlet, you will see that our jewelry creations dominate the majority of each shop. We also, however, offer small home decor and stationary items at Etsy.

LaNina, along with my other two children, has autism. With all of my children , I encourage them to be the best at what they have a passion and drive for. I put no limits to their abilities and I expect them not to either. All of my children have a creative niche-both of my sons like to sculpt and build with clay -and at every opportunity, I try and nurture their interests by exposing them to all types of skill building and social networks related to whatever we're learning about. We are regulars at our community centers and museums. Along with my husband, we take nature walks, go on road trips to unfamiliar areas and do other things so that they are constantly challenged and stimulated.

LaNina comes up with amazing ideas. Right now, in our Etsy shop, we have a series of jewelry pieces inspired by rock crystal formations. She came up with the concept and I helped to execute the design. We used the items that were immediately available to us and all and all we think that they came out lovely.

Our contributuions to Baby Dragon are equal and valuable. You will see that as my daughter grows and her ideas evolve, the look of Baby Dragon will change yet stay fresh, trendy and new and just like when she was a baby, it will be hard for me to keep up with her-creatively, that is☺

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm Back and Ready to Work!

I must say that this past weeks vacation did my body and soul wonders! I honestly had not realized how badly I needed to "get away" from my repetitive schedule and take a moment to breath. At home for the past few months I've been saturated in house duties, wifehood, motherhood and even my creative outlet of making and selling jewelry was becoming more work to me than fun. Especially the business part of networking and promoting my shop. As the holidays are approaching , I've been feeling the pressure to come up with some new pieces. Checking out the forums at Etsy and 1000Markets I can see that I'm not alone.

To make myself feel less guilty about leaving my shops dormant for a week to go enjoy myself, I vowed to do some type of self promotion. I packed cards to pass out to the boutique shop owners and put on my Boho Hoops to wear down there in Edenton. Once we got there all I wanted to do was sleep for hours. After I slept I just wanted to got outside, enjoy the weather (an average of 60 degrees the whole time we were there) and take in the scenery. I did no networking at all and I'm fine with that. Being down there in Edenton and doing things other than making jewelry allowed me to become inspired with brand new ideas for my jewelry line once I got home.

Some of the things I did:

1. Helped my Grandmother hand sew a quilt she had been working on. She's a very skilled and avid quilter and working on a different craft with her was fun.

2. Pecan picking. My family owns land there, right off of route 32N were there are pecan trees and a corn field. The pecans are just right for picking this time of year. I vow to make pecan pie with these before the year is up.

3. Visited historical Edenton. This is located downtown and along the main street are some mom and pop shops, boutiques and other retail stores. This street runs into the Albermarle Bay where there is a small park with a playground that has beautiful magnolia trees and a boardwalk.

Now my mind is all aswirl with ideas that will incorporate fabrics and natural textures and shapes (pecans and magnolias). I've already drawn up simple sketches but I'm pretty sure that I will not have these pieces done before the holiday rush. I'm still working on other jewelry items that I really am very excited about but I think these new inspirations will be worth the wait.

Here's a couple of pictures that I took of a cypress tree and a couple of magnolia pods. If you'd like to see more pics of our vacation, please click on the Flickr widget to your right☺

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Off to Grandma's

Tomorrow afternoon I, along with the kids and Fred. will be taking a twelve hour long drive to visit with my Grandma Lucille in Edenton, North Carolina. Last year my youngest son was two years old and he did fairly good on such a long trip (we only had to stop six times to quiet him down☺). This year, I'll make sure to bring plenty of small toys and gummibears.

Edenton is a small town near the border of Virginia. I must admit that I didn't know too much about the town until a few years ago. I did know that this was the place where my Grandmother grew up and where my mom spent here childhood along with my aunts and uncles. It's a fairly small place compared to Rochester but I love it's quaint appeal and slower pace.

A little, brief family history (as I know it):

My Grandma grew up in this town along with her mom, dad and 16 brothers and sisters. It was told to me that they did sharecropping of goods like peanuts, corn and cotton. She grew up and met a young man from Georgia, my Grandfather (we called him B.C). They married and had four children two boys and two girls, one of which is my mom. Things started to slow down in NC and jobs increased up North so Grandma, B.C and the kids rooted up and moved here in Rochester. My grandmother took up housekeeping here and B.C worked in an auto garage for many years, until his severe arthritis put him on disability. My Grandmother worked at a nursing home called St. Ann's Home for over 30 years before she retired. During all of this 21 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren were born (more are on the way but not by me-hehe!☺).

When B.C. past away some years ago-my Grandma began expressing a wanting to go back home. She really missed the simplicity and warmth of her home town and she had so many family and friends that still lived there. I think that she was beginning to feel a little lonely. B.C was gone and all of us were growing up and making families for ourselves. She finally moved back to Edenton just five years ago. And last year was the first time I'd ever visited the place. After my first experience there, I must say, I do know why she missed it so much.

If you ever visit Edenton be sure to check out these great handcraft and artisan shops on Main Street:
Byrums Gift and Crafts Shop-all types of handcrafted jewelry, textiles art as well as supplies
The Urban Village- this store carries handcrafted items such as these great vintage doorknob winestoppers called Knobstoppers

You can find out more about this towns rich history as well as its art culture by checking this link:

Well I'm going to be really busy getting packed-not only clothes but business cards and a couple of jewelry pieces to wear-always networking, you know and there's plenty of B&M shops and boutiques in the area to visit. I'll have new pics, new stories and possibly some new jewelry design ideas when I return.

Take care☺

Sunday, November 16, 2008

1000Markets...a dream come true?

Three days ago I was reading another blog and clicked on a link that brought me to a handcrafting comer's site called 1000Markets .
At first glance I could already tell that this site would be one that would possibly rival Etsy's already established position in the handcrafting movement. After reading it's terms and browsing the stores (some of which are also well known and successful Etsy sellers), I decided to sign up to sell. Managing four stores is going to be abit of a challenge for me but since my schedule now allows me more time to do this, I think I'm more than up for the challenge.

1000Markets is a juried site that offers features such as stats, Marketgroups and an actual blog within your store. Customers go through the Amazon payment system for orders and along with the forum, you can contact another member by posting on their "wallboard" or by contacting them through their store (similar to the convo system provided by Etsy). The opening page of the site is very pleasing to the eye and it is fairly easy to navigate here. In short, this place has everything that a seller would need.

I'm still waiting for approval for my shop to began selling here and although my items cannot be seen by the public as of yet, my blog and comments can so that is still a plus in my book. I'll keep you all posted on how things go...


I've been ACCEPTED! You can find my brand spanking new shop at:
Check out my blog there too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A pleasant surprise☺

So yesterday I was browsing the forums of Etsy when I came upon a post from a very talented artist by the name of FrucciDesigns asking for help from jewelers that were from New York. Post about NY always grabs my attention so I jumped in. I came to find out that she is moving from California right to my hometown of Rochester New York and not only that, but she's moving just ten minutes away from where I live. I became so excited, I replied to her post, along with a few other helpful members and then I convo'ed her to let her know that if she would like to meet I'd be happy to. It's not very often that I get to meet a fellow Etsy member (actually I have NEVER met another member) and this particular artist was one that I remember hearting her shop when I first began to explore Etsy-her unique style and unconventional artistry really stood out to me. I just got a reply back from her today and hopefully we will soon get together and chat over a cup of coffee about our experiences working in our craft and selling on Etsy. I'll keep you posted.

Here you can see her amazing work:

Monday, November 10, 2008

A lil' o' this, A lil' o' that

Yesterday I attempted to be a virtual social butterfly.....

I always hear that in order to promote my online business, I need to do alot of socializing and networking via the web. On Etsy whenever I'm reading the business section of the forum I often see the words Blog, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. I've already joined Flickr' and I now have a blog(the one your looking at right now☺) but sometimes I wonder how the sucessful sellers are able to make their items and still maintain an up to date account on their chosen networking sites.
As you can see from my blog log,I tend to post when I can get five spare minutes away from my motherly duties which is not very often. After a hiatus of at least two months, I logged into Flickr yesterday to add new pictures of my latest creations. While I was there, I joined a couple of groups and submitted pictures to a group that I had joined previously. I'll have to go back later to see if they were accepted. I left a comment for an unrelated picture of an African tribesman(I REALLY liked that pic) and that was it. I feel as if I could utilize Flickr better but I'm not sure how to. If anyone has any suggestions please comment below.

I also did my regular posting at Etsy and left comments for subjects that I was interested in, however it seems as if I'm constantly conversing with the same group-not that there is anything wrong with that-but the atmosphere gets stagnant and old after a while and it seems that I've seen the same subjects discussed over and over again. Not to mention that I'm not too sure that many buyers frequent this area of Etsy. Finally I visited Myspace and did my regular routine of emailing my friends and inviting new friend and then I decided to clean up my Ecrater site a little by deleting old listings and giving the shop page a fresh look.
I'm going to continue to read the business sections of Etsy to get some pointers and also surf the web for some new ideas. There's a wealth of info out there and I just have to find it and make it work.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting and Listing Today

I'm sitting at home right now, contemplating on whether I should help myself to a second cup of tea and watching the election coverage on CNN. I did vote today-it allowed me to take a nice stroll down the street to my polling place(it was 70 out today) and I got to pass out a few bussiness cards too.

In my last post I said that I wanted to focus on bridal jewelry for my SCJ Etsy shop.

I realize now that to do this would mean fierce competition in this catagory on Etsy. I came to the conclusion that all I need to do is narrow my niche and really make my items more recognizable and unique. I'm going create a signiture look to my pieces and throughout the months of November to January, I'd like to have my first complete, cohesive collection.

I listed two new items on Etsy today. My Croc bracelet-a sterling silver beaded cuff that allowed me to get back to my "roots". I started making jewelry professionally using this technique but as time went on I started venturing into other techniques. Now I've decided to bring it back with a vengance in both my Etsy and Ecrater shops.

I've also remodified my classic Bohemian Hoop earrings. I used to make these earrings using a basic brass wire. The hoops that I created before are very pretty but I decided that I wanted a design that was more study and artistic in the way they looked. I picked up some pure raw brass low gauge wire from a craft and metal reclamation shop. It came in two long rods taped together. When I got it home, I tested it by bending a small section on one end and snipping it with a pair of old wire cutters. It's resistance was more than I'd anticipated-nothing like the brass wire I'd used before. It took me a while to get used to working with it and when I finally did, I was able to make a bracelet and a beautiful pair of hoop earrings. The earrings I made are not so different from my original hoops but they do have a sculptural element to them in that I've created a tapering effect for the earwires while the rest of the earring is hammered flat and textured.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trying to Bring it all Together

These last couple of weeks I've been thinking and contemplating about my shops. I have three -two on Etsy and one on Ecrater. I've been wondering how I can bring a sense of cohesiveness into all three. I really like many different styles of jewelry and I have learned and taught myself different techniques to execute many styles. However, it would be very apparent to anyone visiting my shops that I am a very fickle creator and will make something on a whim, unprepared and it will not necessarily flow with the other items in my shop. It's not that I question the quality or design appeal-it's just that I would like to have a more uniform look to all three shops.

As of Monday, I came up with a plan to use Ecrater as my base store. It would house all of my creations which would include different styles of jewelry from bohemian, shabby chic to fine. These styles would be catagorized accordingly. I would also house Baby Dragon (an Etsy shop) items within this same shop and label them as so. This would pretty much become my main online boutique. My two Etsy shops (Baby Dragon and Shannon Cintron Jewelry) would be more streamlined. I've decided to create only matrimonial type pieces for my SCJ etsy shop and trendy children's kitsch jewelry for BD at Etsy.

Because Etsy does have a listing fee and a percentage fee for each item purchased(along with PayPal), I feel that using less costly materials for these shops would be more practical. In this way I can use the more costly materials at my leisure to create items for my practically free Ecrater site. Also the techniques that I use to create the jewelry that will be featured on Etsy will be less time consuming and therefore I can really focus on creating more of an inventory and perfecting my photos which is a must to get noticed on this site. Yesterday I added some new earrings to SCJ at Etsy and I love the way they look on the page. I even created a new banner using Bannersketch. I think I'm doing the right thing-only time (and a lot of promoting)will tell.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Discovering Etsy

Three years ago I was sitting at home and bored out of my mind. I had just given birth to our son Lorenzo and still on maternity leave. During this time my creativity had gone on a hiatus. Actually I had no desire to make anything. Before that, I was constantly making necklaces and bracelets to give to friends and co-workers. Now that I look back on it, I think that I may have been going through some sort of post-partum depression episode, but I'm not a doctor so whose to say. I just know that I was sitting in front of our computer screen on the verge of tears. I was tired of sitting, tired of going into the kitchen to grab the same snack that I'd eatten ten minutes earlier and tired of watching the early morning talkshows. My husband was at work and I'm sure he was getting a little irritated with me calling him every other hour just to talk(especially while he's trying to drive his rig). At one point I was considering waking the baby just so that I could have something to do. I felt miserable. so going outdoors was out of the question.

So I sat there and decided to visit some celeb gossip sites. I figured that maybe I could get a kick out of reading about some actor or singers dirt . I felt mean and actually posted some nasty comments which is really not my nature. I then saw a spam post about a "new shopping experience" with the link attached. I was getting bored with the celebs and decided then to do some virtual "wish list" shopping. I clicked the link and was immediately brought to the Etsy main page. At first glance, I couldn't figure out exactly what type of store it was because I saw different pictures on the page with all of these different names. I soon concluded that it was some sort of online boutique but the items seemed very handcrafted which really appeals to me. I was intrigued with Etsy and started to navigate like crazy. I clicked a picture and was brought to a store that sold felt items (The Funky Felter). I then spied the category list and of course I had to click "Jewelry". I was blown away at the selection and saw that there was at least 4,000 pages worth of items. I viewed a few stores and then began to read some of the profiles. It became clear to me that these artist and crafters were everyday people like me and decided to open up a shop on this ecomerce site. At that moment, I felt motivated to pursue my passion for creating again. I found out how to sign up and I did that same day. I didn't open up shop right away-I wasn't ready. I wouldn't be ready until about a year later, but on that day I felt so happy and in some odd way, I felt validated. There was something that I could do to reclaim a bit of myself again and I did.

I'm an Etsy member now and in my store, you can find bohemian and tribal inspired jewelry that will sometimes have a hint of victorian gothic flair. I also have another, fantastic store at that has a variety of jewelry styles. I still consider Etsy my home turf . Etsy is truly a great place where I can continue to converse and learn with a community of talented crafters and artist. BTW- its a great place to shop☺

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hello All...

This is my very first entry in any blog ever so I'd just like to start out by introducing myself. My name is Shannon and I make jewelry. My love for trinkets started when I was just a little girl. I would sneak into my grandmothers room sometimes and play with her collection of costume jewelry. As I became older I gained more siblings which meant less pocket money for me to indulge in. By the time I became a teenager I had learned to be very resourceful when it came to being fashionable in school. I realized that if you maintained a simple classic clothing(such as your basic jeans and white shirt) and add fantastic jewelry and accessories, it would make you look just as stylish as a girl that had spent a small fortune on trendy clothes.

However, being the eldest of eight children could not afford me even the least expensive pair of earrings many times and all of the fashionable jewelry of that time (like the bamboo earrings that are popular right now) would cost as much as clothing or shoes. On day, I went with my mom to our local flea market bazaar. As we were looking around, I saw some very pretty beads for sale. I asked the vendor how much and he told me that they were 2.00 per bag. These bags were about the size of a ziploc sandwich bag and filled to the brim with glass beads. I brought them, took them home and got to work. I used sewing thread (doubled up) because at the time I didn't have anything else, nor did I know of anything else that I could use. I made one necklace that night and wore it to school the next day. Everybody loved it and soon some of my friends were asking me to make one for them. My own necklace broke that night and I quickly found the right material to use to keep it together.

That's where it all started...and it's still going. Since then I've become a mom of three and a wife to a great husband. I'm now interested in all forms of jewelry making from metalsmithing to wirewrapping , but beading is my first love. I'm still evolving and am still searching for my niche but I love creating and sharing what I do make with others. You can see some of my creations at

Thank you for reading. Until next time...☺