Welcome to the thirteenth artist interview on miscellany!
(1) Tell us about yourself: My name is Laura Torster, owner of Laura Bijoux. As a Brazilian now living in Portugal with a German husband, I consider myself a citizen of the world.
We live in a beautiful village next to the sea in Portugal where we have our house, our garden and our 2 babies (my dogs) Ulla and Lawry. My day begins very early with a nice breakfast with lots of coffee. Then I feed my babies and start to work.
I love being at home with my two babies and my husband. I also enjoy reading good books, going to the movies, and of course making my jewelry.
(2) Tell us about what you create: I’ve been making jewelry for more than 20 years. I first started making jewelry for myself but soon my friends and family took notice and my days were filled with beads and baubles!
I began to work mostly with beading jewelry. I think this was, and still is, the main technique I use on my jewelry. I also love working with polymer clay but I don’t consider myself to be an expert on this technique so I do not do a lot. But it is something I do love to do. Working with polymer clay is a little addicting! Now I am trying to work more with “natural” material from Brazil, such as seeds, stones, and mother-of-pearl, for example. I love to mix rustic materials, such as seeds, with fine materials, like crystals. I think that this mix brings about amazing results. For me, one of the most important aspects of jewelry making is the finishing and I try to make a point of finishing my work to perfection.
Although I began making jewelry as a hobby, my dream was to convert my hobby into a business. I was fortunate that I was able to have my jewelry in many boutiques throughout Brazil. When I came to Portugal I took a few jobs in other areas and, for a while, I made jewelry only for myself. I’ve since decided to dedicate more and more time to my jewelry and I now have a small business. But for sure I want to try to make it a full time job.
(3) Tell us about your handmade art business: Well, when I came to Portugal I decided to begin to sell on eBay. I needed a name for the store, and the first name that came on my mind was LauraBijoux, this is me.
I began to make jewelry around 20 years ago in Brazil. One day my sister saw a beautiful necklace at a store, but it was very expensive so she didn’t buy it. I looked at the necklace and then bought all the supplies I needed to make it and went to work. I think the result was very nice. Many of my friends and relatives asked where she had bought the necklace, and this is how I started out making jewelry.
I have a room in my house that is my studio. There, I have a desk to make my jewelry with all of the things I need. I have a little cabinet on my desk with various odds and ends. There is a shelf with my seeds, mother-of-pearl, beads, nylon threads, tools, gift packaging materials, books, etcetera…
I also take the photos in my studio. I have a little table near the window and a lighting box for the darker days. Oh, I cannot forget “Chiquinha”, my black tailor fashion dummy.
(4) Tell us about your customers: I only make unique jewelry. I think that, nowadays, people want to be different and not just one among billions. I think my jewelry is for those people. It is at the same time modern and timeless.
(5) Tell us where we can find your art: I sell my products around the globe, mostly online, but I always like to make special items for my friends in Portugal, Brazil, Spain, the UK, the USA, and in Germany.
Currently I am selling on my Etsy shop. I’ve been an Etsy seller since 2009. I didn’t list my products there for a while, but now I am back. I also sell through Facebook and Twitter. In addition, I am hoping to have my own online store at some point during the next year.
(6) Tell us about your support: I do everything by myself. I purchase my supplies. I make the jewelry by hand. I do all the photography and publicity. I also, personally, handle all packing and shipping. My husband lends me a great deal of encouragements and lends a hand from time to time when he is able. I also get a lot of support of my friends and family by having family and friends share links to my items on social media. I think this is a big group of people helping each other. I just love Twitter and Facebook is invaluable.
My clients support me a lot. Satisfied customers tell their friends and they tell others. I rely heavily on this word of mouth approach.
(7) Tell us about your favorites: I love fashion, craft, beauty and cooking blogs. I like and need to be updated every day on all the new trends. I’m also crazy about cooking blogs because I love to cook and eat!
My favorites are:
http://www.lilypebbles.co.uk – Great British blog about fashion, beauty, etc
http://apipocamaisdoce.sapo.pt/ – Portuguese blog about fashion
http://www.craftingforpurpose.com/ – American blog about craft, ADHA
https://kochfokus.de – German blog about cooking
http://www.jamieoliver.com – I think Jamie Oliver needs no introduction.
Probably my favorite piece of all of my creations would be what I call the “Rainbow Brazilian Seeds Bracelet.” It reflects the colors of my country. I’m also very partial to a necklace I made last month, the “Açaí Brazilian Seeds and Multi Color Beads Necklace.” It is, once again, an item that was inspired by my beautiful and amazing homeland.
I love to browse through my friends’ Etsy shops every day. My favorites are:
www.etsy.com/shop/inesrocio – Inês is a great Portuguese watercolor artist
www.etsy.com/shop/Bitzas – They sell lovely knitting toys, I love them
www.etsy.com/shop/supersoftknits – Lovely knitting boleros
www.etsy.com/shop/GlassNatalyaDarlin – Great Russian glass beads artist
www.etsy.com/shop/TheBestBeadsShop – A Czechian glass bead supplier
www.etsy.com/shop/MyBeachStore– Caribbean Beach Findings, Larimar & Amber Supplier
(8) Tell us anything else: As I say on my Twitter and Etsy profiles, making jewelry is my passion. Naturally, being able to sell my pieces and make a living from my art is fantastic, but what really makes me feel special is the knowledge that my creations can now be found on every continent in every corner of the world. This is really priceless.
My advice for other sellers is to not quit at the first mistake! As W.C Fields once said: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Be patient and work hard.