Interview with Jewelry Designer Andrea Shelley

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my occasional posts or raves about designer Andrea Shelley from Andrea Shelley Designs. I gotta say I feel pretty lucky because not only did I get to visit her and check out her awesome work again at the One of a Kind Craft Show in Toronto, but I got the opportunity to catch-up with Andrea and learn a little bit about her creative background! (Oh and did I mention she has an amazing memory and remembered the earrings I fell in love with last Spring and was planning to buy myself as a graduation present! Talk about really knowing your consumers!)

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For a bit of background, Andrea is a jewelry designer based out of Montreal who has been creating gorgeous jewelry pieces for over 10 years! So without further adieu, let’s jump into it!

Em: What was the moment that sparked your desire to start a career in designing and making custom jewelry?

Andrea: I honestly don't remember. I've been making things since I acquired fine motor skills. When I was a kid I would grab up anything I could get my hands on and put it to use in my various crafts. No toilet paper roll or egg carton was wasted in our house. Then my mom taught me how to sew and I would draw up outfits for us to work on. Originally I had in mind to be a fashion designer but ended up leaving the textile program and heading in to sculpture. I fell in love with working in metal, though my professor was always so frustrated with me because I wanted to make everything so very tiny.

I once built an entire house out of wax, about the size of a greeting card box. When it came time to cast it in bronze, it was an epic failure. The techniques we were using weren't well suited to thin, tiny elements. This led me to look into jewelry tools and techniques  and suddenly working small was an asset rather than a limitation.

Em: What was your first job and what the main lesson you learned from it?

Andrea: My first job was at the drive in movie theatre. Mostly I learned that I never wanted another job where I had to wear a heavy polyester uniform in +30 weather.

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Em: What is your favorite thing about doing craft shows?

Andrea: I love craft shows because they are my only opportunity to meet with people and really see how they react to my pieces. Running a business alone is like working in a void. I spend months holed up in my studio researching, designing and creating a collection and don't really know how it's going to come off until I set it out at a show. Watching shopper's faces as they pass by my table is the best feedback on my  work.

Plus I absolutely love it when customers come back to tell me how  happy they are with their purchases or show me that they're wearing my  jewelry. As a creator, it just doesn't get any better than that!

Em : What advice would you give to other young women who want to pursue their passion in the arts?

Andrea: Even though it's your passion you have to treat it like a job, and  just like any job, it has its positives and negatives. You have to  really want it. Nothing in life worth having comes easy so stick with  it, work hard, and know when to take a break. Burn out and overwhelm  are common in this industry. You're taking something you love to do and making it into work, so tread lightly and make sure you're giving  yourself space to be creative.


Ray Neclace - Oxidized

Minimal oxidized wire necklace, sandblasted for a textured, sparkly finish.

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