This is part 1 (of a 3 part series) that was originally published Nov 21, 2013. I am publishing it again because I am finally closing up shop over at LusciousMetals.Com and am moving through the stages closure. I will publish the other parts in the series subsequently.
I've thought a lot about this notion of success. What it means to me and what I need to do or be in order to really feel successful. Over the past few years, I had some things happen in my personal life that left me feeling extremely unsuccessful. It's funny how that feeling bleeds out into everything. It created the ubiquitous snowball effect and it was hard, but it provided me lots of food for thought. It brought me the opportunity to reassess everything in my life, to deconstruct and rebuild the things that weren't working for me. Luscious Metals has been one of my 'babies' for many years (since 2001). Obviously it was one of the major forces in my life that called for evaluation. What does it mean to me to be a successful designer, artist, entrepreneur? Does it mean that I make a lot of money? Sell a lot of jewelry? Gather social media fans and followers? Get into the best shows? Gain notoriety as a designer? I thought it meant all of the above. Leveraging my personal value against those things was something that (kind of) worked for me. Until it didn't. Once I realized that these reliable old 'props' weren't making me feel good the way they used to, the question became who am I now? The question insinuated itself into my entire reality like a little pebble in my shoe and it wouldn't go away. It forced me to look at everything through an investigative lens but the answers weren't clear.
Confession: when my personal life fell down around me, so was did my business. Selling became burdensome, metalsmithing became a chore and designing became depressing because my creativity had disappeared along with my self confidence. I spent the good part of 2 years agonizing over what to do with my business, this baby that I had poured so much of myself into, this passion that had kept me sane and given me respite when I was knee deep in infants and toddlers. It had given me a sense of pride and autonomy and of self. Quite frankly, I didn't know who I was without it but I knew that it wasn't making me happy any more. Should I sell it? Should I hire people to run it? Should I just shut it down, close shop? But mulling over these questions made me feel fuzzy and checked out and just led me to distract myself with something else.
Up until this point, Luscious Metals had excited me and had been a source of pure passion. It kept me constantly dreaming and shooting for higher aspirations. Over the course of developing my company, I commissioned 3 websites each one better and more beautiful than the last, sold hundreds of pieces of jewelry, got accepted into popular shows, got major press in national magazines like Cosmopolitan and Parenting. We sold $50,000 dollars in Sweetheart Necklaces alone in 6 months time just from that Parenting spot. I hired employees and developed production lines, designed packaging, orchestrated major photo shoots both with the jewelry itself and models wearing the jewelry. I don't say all of this to brag, but rather to point out that even after all this, I still didn't feel successful. I started and grew this amazing business but because I was in personal turmoil, it seemed pointless and I was totally discouraged. My question became what now? What next? What is my passion and my calling now?
In the midst of this time period, I taught a jewelry class here in Boulder. During that class it became obvious to me that I had the potential to take these amazingly open and curious women to a much deeper place than just "learning how to make a cool necklace". I saw the places in our conversation during that class where we could have skipped the usual "Hi, my name is..." and instead gone straight for "this is where I need some inspiration in my life. This is an area that I want to work on". Art is an amazing medium for self exploration, it lends itself to introspection. It facilitates questions like Why am I feeling pulled toward the reds and the oranges? Why am I feeling like I can't make something beautiful to save my life? Am I feeling bright and shiny or dark and muddy? Of course this idea of exploration fascinated me because it was so relevant to my experience. I did feel muddy. I felt dull. But I knew I was drawn to reds and oranges and colors that represented fire and I knew that I wished that I had someone to guide me through this, to help me express myself in a different way. I wasn't alone either. Many of the women in my life were in similar boats. Everywhere I looked, lives were turning upside down because of divorces, new babies, 'losing' kids to kindergarten, huge cross country and international moves, health issues, new careers. We were all going through major changes and metamorphoses and nobody knew how to handle it or what to do. We were shell shocked and full of questions. So I left the class with a tiny seed of hope and the idea of somehow marrying art and soul searching. The question then became; how? How can I make these two things work together?