Norah Downey of Your Daily Jewels is an inspiring woman. By day, she inspires kids as a pediatric physical therapist, and in the rest of her free moments, she creates colorful handmade jewelry. I recently caught up with her to find out more about her work.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I consider myself double-lucky. I love designing and making jewelry. I wake up at night with ideas swirling and sketch book ready. But I am equally passionate about my work as a pediatric physical therapist. I use a therapy strategy known as “hippotherapy” in which I utilize the movement of the horse as a therapy tool for my (mainly) pediatric patients. I spend my days with horses, adorable kids, and jewelry and wouldn’t change a thing!
How did you get started making things?
As a child I poured through my grandmother’s collections of costume jewelry and piled it on. My mother never had pierced ears so I had plenty of her clip-ons to wear. At age three, I also loved scarves, and basically, accessorizing! I have loved jewelry ever since. “Love” is not the right word, really. From Harry Winston to the Dollar store, it is intriguing to me. I am intrigued by wearing it, owning it, and touching it. The only think I do not like is simply looking at it in a window. This is hard for me. Beautiful jewelry that I cannot wear simply hurts my feelings! I found the best remedy for this is to make as much as I want. Now I love making it as much as I love wearing it!
What inspires your work?
If I were to pick one of many sources of inspiration, it would be color. I cannot remember a time when I was not attracted to and collecting sparkling, shining, colorful beads and baubles. I have always collected these beauties, never really knowing what I would do with them.
Nowadays I am surrounded and inspired by the ever-changing natural colors of the Hudson Valley. Maybe it seems so vibrant to me because I lived in NYC for 20 years, surrounded by shades of grey.
Outside of your creative business, what are your other hobbies and interests?
For years, my creative endeavors were limited to writing, and painting. It was my patients who got me into making jewelry. I work with children, some of whom may never walk or ever speak. But they all smile. In order to “buy” some compliance during sometimes-unpleasant therapies, I needed to come up with a bribe, oops, I mean incentive. I started making little bracelets with the beads I collected since I was their age. With every bracelet, I told them funny stories about the beads and they loved receiving these bracelets. It sounds corny, but my patients inspire me to be the best me, and to be creative, everyday.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve made?
How my customer feels when wearing my jewelry is foremost in my mind when I am designing and creating. Therefore, quality and comfort are my first priority.
Next is color. This is “my thing.” I use as much color as possible in my collections. My tag line is “Live Life in Color”
Lastly is cost. Affordable is relative, but I make jewelry that looks like it should be way more expensive than it is. I work hard to source out the best stones for the money. I use some AAA quality gemstones, However, I find that some stones of “lesser quality” have equal beauty for other reasons; be it vibrant color or natural facets or flaws. In addition, using gold-filled metal and not pure gold is the greatest tool in making affordable jewelry. It looks and wears like gold at a fraction of the cost. Keeping my costs down is will allow me to reach my goal.
Where do you see your company in 2 years?
As a self-trained jewelry maker, I have a list of skills yet to master. I plan to chip away at this list with great momentum. In two years I would like to be the shop where women come to buy their “daily jewels.” In other words, I would like a solid business built on repeat customers.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started in pursuing their creative dreams?
To those creative souls starting out I have this advice. Make a decision as to whether you intend to create as a hobby or a career. If you expect to make a living creating, be prepared to put as much or more time into the business end, as you spend creating. Like any business, it is hard and parts of it is not fun. Even if you never have a brick and mortar business, you must spend hours a day promoting, advertising, networking, keeping books, servicing customers, and much more. Budget your time with this in mind and you will prosper.
This is from my Etsy profile: “I love designing something in my mind, creating it with my hands, and knowing someone is wearing my work and it is making them happy.”
Check out Your Daily Jewels to see more of Norah’s work!
Thanks to Your Daily Jewels for sponsoring Miss Malaprop!
Mallory Whitfield created MissMalaprop.com in 2006 as a place to share her favorite cool stuff, handmade products and indie finds. Throughout her journey as a creative entrepreneur, Mallory has worn many hats, including blogger, visual artist, upcycled clothing creator, performance artist, jewelry designer, craft show vendor, creative strategist, speaker, teacher and consultant to other small business owners. By day, she specializes in SEO, content marketing and social media strategy as Content Analyst at FSC Interactive, a leading digital marketing agency in New Orleans.
I’ve been working with artists and creatives to get the word out about their work for more than 10 years. I’ve seen people the same marketing mistakes again and again, whether it’s independent artists and creatives, small business owners or big companies.
And I don’t want it to happen to you.
In my free mini-course, you’ll learn the top 5 marketing mistakes that I see artists & creatives make that prevent them from selling more of their handmade products.
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