I'm excited to share my interview with Jelena today, friends. The Kansas-based artist graduated from Los Angeles' famed Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, and her love of all things art jewelry and wedding accessories inspired her to open her own Etsy shop, Change of hART, which is filled with everything from bracelets to wedding flowers. Read on to learn where she did some of her early work and how being different contributed to her shop's success! xoxo
So tell me a bit about yourself and your shop...
My name is Jelena (pronounced Yeh-leh-nah), and I own and operate Change of hART, a one-(wo)man jewelry and wedding accessory design studio in Wichita, Kansas. I make mostly one-of-a-kind or very limited-edition, mid- to higher-end jewelry, and I accept a variety of custom orders for wedding flowers and hair accessories.
I graduated with a degree in Textile Design from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, California, and originally tried to make a name for myself in the realm of fine art (painting) and wearable art (painting on silk garments) when I had a change of heart and decided it was time to change the art form as well. I apprenticed with a jeweler in Sitka, Alaska, for two years. My branching into beaded and wire-wrapped jewelry began in 2003, and I have drawn my inspiration from nature's bounty ever since. After moving to Kansas in 2008 in order to marry the love of my life, I discovered Etsy and opened my shop in the spring of 2009. As I found jewelry to be a pretty saturated market on Etsy, an idea started nagging at me. I kept remembering how my beautiful fresh flowers died promptly after my wedding day, and an idea to make wedding floral arrangements out of fabric and feathers was born. I made my first prototype out of my mother-in-law's quilting fabric leftovers, listed a few in my shop and the orders for custom flowers started coming in.
What's your best piece of advice for people looking for great online shopping deals?
I don't think of myself as an expert on anything, let alone online shopping deals. The way I shop online might be different from how most people do it, because the things that matter most to me are quality and visual appeal. High quality is worth paying for, and in my opinion, buying a quality item would be the best "deal" one can get both online or off.
In this recession economy, what are some ways people can still look chic for less?
I would say invest in a few trendy accessories and combine them with timeless clothing pieces. A new trendy purse, a piece of jewelry in colors of the season or a trendy scarf can do wonders in refreshing a classic outfit as well as save you hard-earned money you would otherwise spend on pricey clothing that may end up sitting in the closet once the current fashion trend has passed.
What's your favorite item in your shop and why?
I can't say that I have a favorite item in my shop. Since most of my pieces are either one-of-a-kind or made on a very limited-edition basis, each of them is special in its own way. (Editor's Note: Pictured above is the copper bangle bracelet, amethyst necklace and jade gold earrings).
**BONUS: Jelena is offering So About What I Said readers 15% off all in-stock items (not including gift certificates and custom-made items). Just enter coupon code SMART15 at checkout.