You all have probably heard me talk about the Etsy shop Whisperwill before. It's run by my friend Kelly and I own (and wear incessantly) a set of her rose gold stacking bands. Today she's here sharing a little about her business' story and where her creative inspiration comes from! Thanks so much for sharing, Kelly! xoxo, Stacia
Tell us a little about yourself and Whisperwill.
Hi there! I'm Kelly. I was raised in a little town (actually it's starting to be not-so-little) called Ooltewah near Chattanooga, Tennessee. These days I live in Los Angeles (the Valley, to be exact, no hating allowed!) with my foxy filmmaker Colton and our adorable, fluffy, orange cat Peaches. I started Whisperwill in 2012, the year after we moved to California. It's really exciting to have a young business! I love what I do. When I'm not at the jewelry bench, you can find me cooking up a storm in the kitchen (I tend towards non-fussy soul food, and I have a REAL sweet tooth), digging in the garden, laying around on the couch watching bad television, or drinking too much coffee and thinking up a new hobby. If we're being honest here, I kind-of collect hobbies. The other day I decided that I should start quilting! I can sometimes be a little bit all over the place, but my life is a beautiful, creative mess and I love it that way.
What inspired your company's name?
Not a great story, actually. I was in that weird half-lucid state between waking and sleeping and mumbled, "Whippoorwill. Whipoorwillow. Whisperwill!" I liked it and I stuck with it! Now looking back, I think it's actually a really great name that captures the mix of softness and strength that I like in jewelry. Clean, architectural lines but still sophisticated and feminine. That is the type of woman I strive to be too... a soft gentle spirit, but with quiet strength. But coming up with the name was really just luck. :)
What inspired you to start making and selling jewelry, especially using the unique techniques that you do?
That goes back to my hobby collecting. The first jewelry I ever made was just for myself. Back in highschool, I had some spare change in my pocket and thought, "I bet I could make some killer earrings with these!" I took my pennies out in the yard and hammered the bejeezus out of them on a big rock. They actually turned out really nice! I sold a few pieces here and there, but I was never serious about it. Fast forward to 2012 - I was new to a big city and had recently graduated with a degree in Biblical Studies and Greek. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. After a short stint trying out working in the art department on films, I knew for sure it wasn't for me. One day I found a Native American beadweaving tutorial online. It reminded me of this great bracelet my grandmother had bought me back when I was a kid. I got some beads and picked up the technique in a few hours. I was hooked! I don't really remember when I decided to head down to the courthouse and get a business license - it was probably pretty impulsive, like most of my decisions. My gut was totally right this time, though, and Whisperwill was born! After a year or two of beadweaving, I made the plunge and purchased a torch, flexshaft, and everything else I needed to begin metalsmithing. I read alot of articles and tutorials and watched tons of videos on Youtube. (You can learn ANYTHING on Youtube these days.) After a period of trial and error, plus a few singes and alot of sweat, my first metalsmithed collections were born. I'm certainly still learning, but I'm very proud of the progress I've made.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
My inspiration mainly comes from minimal, modern architecture and the beautiful, open spaces of the American Southwest. I really love sparse, polished design.
What is your favorite part of running your business?
Definitely my time on the bench! There's also a really special thrill when you wake up to an order in your inbox!
Do you accept custom requests?
Yes! I love custom work.
What motivates you to return to Whisperwill even after a tough day?
Well, I can't say that I've really had a bad day. The worst that can happen is that I melt the piece I'm working on, and I can always try again! Sometimes I feel a little tired if I've been at the bench too long, but I recharge with treats and down time after my work is done :)
Do you have any rituals that help you get into a creative zone before starting your work?
Not particularly, although I like to have some background noise. Usually I'll do a little bit of fantasy karaoke as I work. I don't have the greatest voice, but I pretend I do and perform alot of complicated vocal runs, diva hands, and attitude heads. You know what I'm talking about. I also love story-based podcasts like This American Life or The Moth.
What is something on your business bucket list?
I'd love to make someone a custom engagement ring! I'd also love to learn casting one day. Other than that, my main goal is to find some really great vendors who have a clear brand and a clientele who will be attracted to my work.