I have the pleasure of working with our interviewee personally and I know that all of you are just going to love her! Cat Ivins, the owner of Polarity and Uncorked, (and the writer of a hilarious blog – Olive Bites) is an upcycling expert, a beautiful jewelry designer, and a wonderful collaborator and friend. She answered several questions for me so that I could share her awesome insight about how she branded her unique business with you! I hope you enjoy!
Collaboration is a big part of your business. What first drew you to the idea of sharing your creative product?
I have always believed in the power of people sharing common dreams and activities – that truly anything can happen when we come together.
There is a very real multiplication process that goes on when two (or more) creatives work together so that 1 plus 1 equals so much more than 2! I used to work in a creative office environment and absolutely our best ideas always came from group meetings where ideas were tossed around and I really miss that energy working at home by myself. I have met so many amazing artists through my collaborations and of course, it allows me to have the most incredible artwork available for my customers!
Crafting eco-friendly products adds quite a challenge for some crafters. Do you have any advice for those seeking to integrate more ‘green’ into their work?
There are many ways to integrate environmentally friendly practices – everything from the lightbulbs you put in your studio, reusing packaging materials (this is something I had to get used to because I do like things to look good- but used can look better than good- it can look amazing), walking to the post office instead of driving, using functional supplies for nonfunctional things (I made and sold over 10,000 pieces of jewelry before I ever looked at a jewelry supply catalog or walked into a bead or craft store- all my parts had functional purposes and those parts would be produced whether I made jewelry with them or didn’t), creating things that can be used in multiple ways, using non-toxic environmentally friendly chemicals, etc.
You do not have to be making things from used things to have a green business and the little things we do can definitely add up. And we need to all be embracing a little wabi-sabi with our work at times which is the Japanese principal of the beauty to be found in imperfection and the beauty to be found in the signs of aging of a well-worn, well-loved piece. I fabricate my lockets with propane from recycled steel car parts- the insides are usually scratched from their earlier lives. I can’t get those scratches out and I wouldn’t want to if I could- they feel like well-earned wrinkles to me- they are beautiful the way the are (and I have never had a customer complain about them!).
You’re SO passionate about your work and the environment. How did you figure out the best way to meld them into your brand?
I think the best businesses are very, very personal. There is really no other way to make anything that matters.
I do not believe that some things are business and not personal – for me it is all personal …
(and this is hard when people do not like something you have made and yes, this is the part of the process that requires you to keep your heart open because truly, truly nothing amazing will ever come from a closed heart)
I never thought about incorporating my passions into my brand because that’s all my brand has ever been. I think this is something I have grown into as I grew into myself and I am totally amazed how so many people in their 20’s have these incredible, personal brands because I was all over the place back then!
You’ve really set up your blog around helping other creative people and yet there is nothing (ebook or course) for sale from you. What does this gain you and why have you stuck solely to your craft?
I started my blog to document the growth of my business and my new puppy Olive, but that kind of got old fast. My blog’s outward focus happened pretty organically. I just think of it as a conversation and try to keep it real. Honestly I do not see a decrease in sales when I don’t blog for a while or an increase when a piece I blog gets picked up somewhere big- I’m not sure how good blogs are for those kind of things anyway … they do help make us ‘real’ for people and get our names out there though. Blogs help us connect.
I often get people wanting to advertise with me and I don’t do this for a couple reasons (I have nothing against blogs that do charge for advertising though because blogging is alot of work) – the main reason I don’t have ads is not some political ideology about the nature of ‘free’ online, but honestly I know if I have advertisers I will be forced into a rigid schedule that would make my blogging alot less fun… for me. I like to be able to get lazy with it now and then.
I do write to pass on things I have learned because I have been around the block a time or two, but I am definitely not an expert and it would be hard for me to charge for advice I am passing along in a conversation with my readers … plus they might be able to sue me when it all backfires for them and get custody of my closets full of cork …. of course, they would have to get past Olive first .. and we all know – she bites.
Isn’t she awesome! You’ll want to check out Cat’s awesome (and insightful) blog to learn more about her jewelry lines AND the amazing advice she has for creative business owners.
**If you know someone you’d like to see interviewed here, or if you’d like to be interviewed yourself, please leave a name or a link in the comments below! We love meeting new entrepreneurs!**