Artist: Tammy Antoinette
Business: Jewelry by Tammy Antoinette
Web site: girlinworld.etsy.com
Location: Orlando, Florida
What do you create?
Handmade jewelry, fabricated with sterling, brass, and other materials such as vintage glass and gemstones.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
I do my work from home. I have a workbench and all my tools set up inside a screened-in patio. I love all the natural light and the sounds of nature I have while working out there. I do my metal work out on my bench, and my beaded work inside the home.
Do you have another "day job"?
Yes, I work as a graphic artist during the day.
Where and what did you study?
I received a Bachelor's in Graphic Design, and am mainly self-taught in jewelry and metal. I have taken a few basic classes in beaded jewelry and metalsmithing, but most of what I've learned comes from reading a lot and experimenting on my own.
Where do you find inspiration?
It is difficult to get specific with this one, because I find inspiration in everything – sometimes in people, in music, in architecture, in food, in nature. Inspiration from any of these things can lead me to a new idea in my jewelry designs. I try to leave myself open to everything, and I am constantly aware of the beauty and inspiration in even the smallest things that surround me.
What motivates you?
I love to figure things out. I am in awe of the idea of something coming from nothing. What motivates me is the entire creative process. I love starting with nothing but raw materials and pieces of glass or stone, and using tools along with my imagination, to create something that only a while ago did not exist.
When did you start doing this?
I remember making necklaces from seashells and flowers as a little girl. I grew up in western New York, and my father used to take us to Florida to visit my grandparents every summer. For those of you who have not experienced western New York, it is cold and gray for the better part of the year, and there is no ocean... pretty dismal if you ask me. When we reached Florida, I was like a caged animal ready to be released into this sunny paradise that was unlike anything I had ever known. I can remember it like it was yesterday, running down the shore by the surf with my sister, without a care in the world, collecting seashells. I remember stringing together a necklace with my shells and tying on flowers by their stems. I am not sure that was really jewelry making, I think it was more just play, but in any case that was the first piece of jewelry I remember making. I've been making jewelry for about seven or eight years now, but decided to turn it into a business about two years ago.
Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
My mom was an exceptional artist, when she wasn't busy working her day job and taking care of us. She was into oil painting and watercolor, and then later woodworking. We always had tools of the trade laying around the house, so yes I was very much into art as a kid. I think most kids get into creating art in some fashion or another, whether it be with crayons, finger paints, or mustard and ketchup.
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I started making jewelry as a hobby, just because I enjoyed doing it. But I started getting many compliments and requests for custom designs from friends and family. I was at the point in my life when I was still trying to figure out what I was best at. I think sometimes when we can't figure it out for ourselves, we should listen to what other people tell us we are good at. I realized that throughout my life, I always received compliments on the things I would create. Growing up, I used to make my own clothes, belts, greeting cards, jewelry. It didn't matter what it was, I was always creating something. Once I realized that this is something that is not going to go away, that I am always going to feel the need to create, and that people actually like the things I create, that is when I realized that I wanted to start my own business selling my creations. That was about two years ago. I started off selling my jewelry by word of mouth and then I found Etsy and opened up a storefront in June of 2007.
How did you choose the name for your business?
Well, the name used to be Girl In World and that is because I never want to lose my sense of wonder – no matter how old I become, no matter that I am now a grown woman, I always want to look at the world through the eyes of a girl, a girl who still believes in magic and mystery, because believing in these things keeps me inspired. I changed the name of my store to Tammy Antoinette a while ago because I want my name to be linked to my jewelry.
What do you love most about creating your work?
I love the entire process, but most of all I feel very honored and extremely happy when others buy or compliment my work. It feels great to know that people like what I create!
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
Ummmmm, can I get back to you on that? I still have some traveling to do. Any place that I have not been is the most fascinating place to me. I haven't traveled outside of the country, except to the Bahamas when I was very young. I am so very eager to explore other countries.
A book you love:
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
What is the most interesting thing about you?
I can run really fast, and I used to leave even the boys in the dust.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I am proud that I am doing what I love and making a living at it, both my jewelry and graphic design.
What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Have faith in your capabilities, and don't be afraid to take chances.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
TIME... having enough time to get it all done and still have time to come up with new ideas.
What do you love to do in your free time?
Spend time enjoying life with the people I love.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on my first collection (complete set) of exclusive designs for a jewelry boutique that contacted me about my work!
What do you hope to achieve next?
I hope to drop my daytime graphic design job like a hot potato, in order to concentrate first on my jewelry and possibly offer my services in freelance graphic design work as well.