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Throw Back Thursday: Oh the Places We have Been

7 Aug

 

Entwined Vines is not THAT old but we have been around for several years now. We have had many ups and downs on this adventure and today we are taking you down memory lane with us!

 

When we first got started we did a skin care MLM styled product line and since we both enjoyed making jewelry we agreed when we worked events together we would set up a small section of hand made jewelry and see how it went.

 

 

 

After about half a year and several interesting events, the MLM company changed their product line enough that we both walked away and began pursuing Entwined Vines in a much more serious manner. With this in mind we researched several online options and elected to put out our shingle so to speak on Artfire as you can see here. We found that at the time they had the most tools to help us on our journey while being open to all (you do not need to have an account to order like another very well known location), had the best online security for personal information for ourselves and out potential customers, and the rates were stable enough that we could keep our pricing stay lower (we put true cost pricing on ALL our goods). As you can see from this example of one of our first pieces posted, we had already started growing…

 

Earlier wire wrap bracelet

 

As you can see that bracelet is pretty yet still basic. The photo quality is alright but has tons of room for improvement. We were taking all our photo’s with bare bones point and shoot camera’s and had NO editing software and even if we did, we would not have had clue one as to where to start without making things way, way worse! We continued having a table or booth at shows but the budget was small and so the events we were able to sign up for were lacking in mostly advertising and attendance. We were part of three of the worst shows in the first year! One was so bad that the organizers ended up in court (not by us but other vendors at the event we were unfortunately a part of due to not holding up their end of the contract AND a second case from bills they racked up and failed to pay for that event) to give you an idea of just how BAD some of the events out there can and have been. On the other hand, that first year we stumbled along through these events having NO CLUE what we were really doing, what kind of set-up would work best and travel well through all the beating of stacking, packing, and heavy traffic (when we were fortunate to be at a GREAT show). We talked and learned through those around us, reading everything we could find, and keeping notes of what worked and what did not, and why, so we could work on making our business better at every turn.

 

Check back and see what Throw Back Thursday has in store for you next week.  Feel free to leave us a comment and if it is approved, we will put your name into our drawing to be held later this year.

 

Bring it on!

10 Mar

“Do you thrive under pressure or crumble at the thought of it? Does your best stuff surface as the deadline approaches or do you need to iterate, day after day to achieve something you’re proud of? Tell us how you work best.”

Tammy and I (here are Entwined Vines Jewelry) both seem to like planning and plotting to achieve a goal but when push comes to shove and the heat is turned up, that deadline is actively upon us we holler “bring it on” and chuckle as we know we can take it with fierce and powerful success. We seem to always be working on projects and in our minds working through the steps needed to reach a deadline with great results so when it comes to that “moment” of make it or break it we are very accomplished and thriving. Not long ago we had learned of a grant project that we had not heard about before and although we had never applied for anything like this before we looked into it. We thought is would be a great fit for the co-op we are a part of (Artistic Portland) but it was getting to the wire when it was presented. When it was decided that the co-operative would not be able to do justice to the activity we dove right in. We had no clue and no time left as the deadline was less than 5 hours away (talk about cutting it close lol). This  grant required a nice batch of writing and question and answer time where both of us had to like and agree to our answers one a day we both worked our “normal” jobs till after the deadline time set so we had to scramble through text messages and fast as you can think emails to accomplish this. We did it! We made the deadline by minutes complete with spectacular photos and a write-up we were more than pleased with. We then had two weeks to try to get caught-up with thousands of other people to recruit votes to make it into the next level for the grant. We gave it a huge effort and although we did not make the next level we are beyond happy with how for we made it and with the shear amount of knowledge gained through this experience. We had another un-expected bonus as well, follower in all our social media venues and dramatic increase of interest in our one of a kind pieces or wearable art! Will we apply again? You bet we will and although we will have more time to iterate that last minute deadline kicked us into over drive and we rocked it just like always. Take a moment and share where you stand on pressure and how you manage, we love to hear from all of you!

 

“Every Artist Deserves a Home”

3 Mar

“Tell us about a situation where you’d hoped against all hope, where the odds were completely stacked against you, yet you triumphed. Be sure to describe your situation in full detail. Tell us all about your triumph in all its glory.”

 

Tammy and I have hopes to make Entwined Vines into our primary source of income like many artists and we have seen how hard that can be. With this in mind we work hard to keep momentum and set goals along the way. We started off with a very tiny part of a booth at bazars as well as online at Artfire. We knew that with our primary creative endeavor as Jewelry Artists required us to get “known” as many people have no clue what Viking Knit is let alone how amazing it is and how comfortable it is to wear while getting huge amounts of positive attention. We knew that is people did not actually see our pieces or see how it is made and how much time and materials go into each piece that we would not be able to make sales let along grow. With this knowledge, we set out to be in positions to be seen more and more so we went through the extensive application process and involvement of becoming members of the Portland Saturday Market (not to be confused with a farmers market). We worked hard at this for three years which was our goal but had concerns that our online sales had been going up but were not stable enough to remove ourselves out of the public eye but knew that our personal lives had been taxed with needing to work 5 days a week at our “normal” jobs and then working so many hours every weekend. Something HAD to give and we were talking about what our options were and voiced that is would be really nice to be a part of an indoor artisans market but that it just was not reasonable as there were no options like that in the area that were not styled as a consignment kind of thing and we both need to be in charge of our work and not just hand it over blindly to a “boss”.

Once we both found our inclination to be a part of a store-front business we looked at cost and energy that would take and yet again we were blown away with the shear level of crazy that would take from both of us to make that happen. We had sadly put that on a back burner as not do-able yet dream worthy when a business acquaintance approached us with a “golden” opportunity; to be a part of a co-operatively owned and operated artisan store-front! Our dream!!! The group was small and had only started brain storming and plotting a month prior so we knew that the work would be intense with huge possibility of not being able to get off the ground let along real success. The formation of by-laws, getting a business license, learning the local laws, figuring out a base start-up budget, finding a location that would work for all, all the little things that a business has to work through before even opening had to be learned and implemented for not just one business but a group of 40+. We found a location and things were looking up to learn that it had fallen through the month before projected opening and the group was stress and crest-fallen. We had high hopes that had tons of momentum and had gone from zero to 100 in a few short months. The scramble was on and the newly appointed board of directors franticly searched for a new location that was in the original area yet still fit all our needs. In less than a week they succeeded although there was added stress as the rent was significantly higher than planned and several people were starting to re-consider paying to be fully a part of this venture as we had passed projected open dates a few times (we had dreamed big and had hoped to open in March – remember planning started only in December) as well as the daunting issue of funding since our very first ever kickstarter project had been basically a bust. Was our hope going to get shattered? Would we as a collective manage to succeed?

The results are still out but it feels like we as a collective have succeeded and Entwined Vines is still an active part of this. Artistic Portland was officially open for business June first after just 6 months of crazy hard work, several downs, and mega up’s. In the last several months the group had shrunk and then grown, we have transitioned, had trials, growing pains as a group as we learned to work together while still working as individual leaders, teams have formed and take off with mostly incredible results, and our hope continues to grow and evolve to greater heights. Entwined Vines is still working on sales through Artfire while growing and working in our community and loving almost every moment of it. Hopes and dreams are completely worth chasing and making true so follow yours then share in our comments.

 

Tourist Trap: Bead Show Gallore

1 Jul

What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

So as strange as this may sound, we really want to go to Tucson Arizona. As jewelry artisans Tammy and I are so drawn to beads and Gems that we dream of going to the biggest show in this country at the beginning of February for at least two weeks. We have gone to several shows here in the Portland metro area and have found amazing finds to help keep costs down on our pieces (we do true cost pricing on all our pieces following a very strict formula). As we have shared in the past we tend to come back from such expeditions with mounds of truly stunning beads to work into our wearable art such as what is shown here…  Untitled-3

In addition to the joy of hours playing with stones and beads we would HAVE to go out and about…

Tammy LOVES plants and would completely have a blast scooten over to the Sonora Desert Museum to check out the plants, natural history, and zoo.

Tina & Tammy really are into hikes and natural wonders and would have to take a day to wander the trails in the Sabino Canyon area. We have heard lots about this area and have this drive to go hiking with our cameras and a hip pack with water.

Tina has a fixation on illusions and gets giddy just thinking about an opportunity to go to the Carnival of Illusion Dinner and Theater were we have heard it is a fun and magical delight.

Although this list is not all inclusive we figure it is not a bad start. If you have places that really are on the must go and experience list by all means please leave a comment and we will love into adding it…

In the Zone: Weaving the Weave

24 Jun

“Tell us about your favorite way to get lost in a simple activity — running, chopping vegetables, folding laundry, whatever. What’s it like when you’re in “the zone”?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LOST.

 

We do a lot of work that takes tons of time but in the big scheme of things is classified as a simple activity. Weaving wire hour after hour is one of those things we do most. Each piece of weave takes many hours to make yet we love to do it.

 

 

Weaving is more than just playing with wire. Weaving is a place of peace as we enter “the zone”. We all have been there and when we find something that puts us in the zone we seem to want to do it again and again. I have been known to say that weaving is hard and takes lots of time but for us it is also a form of physical meditation. I have known many people that have tried their hand at weaving Viking knit and I hear over and over how hard and boring it is. Lots of people try it, but it is not an art that flows for them even though they find it to be stunning they end up not finishing and come to us to purchase a piece of fine wearable art in the form of jewelry. The above piece is 7 wires woven at the same time. I find that getting into the zone with multiple wires is different than when I work with 1 wire repeating the motion over and over again such as was done with the following piece:  

 

While in the zone everything slows down and my mind is so focused it is amazing. As a person that has to multi task most of the time the peace and inner tranquility is a joy. Even with my mind calm and slowed down to hyper focus my hand flies and the piece creates itself in through my movements. Every weave and every pull of the wire is guided by my hands and my mind but it is only guided. Each time I pull the wire there is a surprise that is awe inspiring, and the thrill of the “next magical moment” is part of the draw to keep coming back and creating more.

 

What puts you in the zone? Please share…

Silver Linings: event challenges

17 Jun

“Write about something you consider “ugly” — war, violence, failure, hatred — but try to find beauty, or a sense of hope, in your thoughts.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us UGLY.

 

 

 

Being a business that is run online and local events is hard. We go to bazars, markets, and shops trying to get seen and if all goes well to have our craft purchased or at the very least admired. The “trade” is hard fought and the behind the scenes can get ugly as artisans compete for the limited attention and funding that is out there in the area. If there is a jury process one would think that spaces are more limited and once you get your foot in the door that other crafters would be nicer and more relaxed but the reality is it is even harder to keep your spot with many other business people complaining about some mild infraction of the rules (especially if competition is starting to cut into their profits) and “clicks” form more and more as if we are reverting to our youthful teenage years all in the name of “making it” and trying to not just survive but to maybe even thrive as an artist in a tight economy.

We have seen business after business make it into an event as a hand crafted item pass all the inspections to only be forced to leave after an older business finds profits going down and complains that there is no way that the newer people are “really” making their own product or that is it later found to be an inferior quality craft. People ask “How can this be?”, “Where did these people go?” and “Is this true?” but the sad truth is we do not know as we are not on the “in” with such things but see and hear enough to wonder.

Being in business we want and need to succeed. We find a level of fulfillment knowing our product, our craft means something to other people and it is deemed worthy of purchase. We get that warm feeling of pride and joy when what we love is praised. This “cut throat” mentality is sad but spurs us on to working harder and providing a better product at every turn rather than sinking to the harsh side of the business. This is good and fits the model of the “American way” with competition through commerce. We are forced to not the “norm” and to think outside of the box to come up with fresh new ways to get out product out there and to be seen. We are forced to create anew and not be pulled down so that we can thrive as an artistic small business while keeping to our mores and finding the joy in what we do instead of reverting to the sense of “just another job” and this is all well worth the challenges that may come at the hands of others.

To learn more about Entwined Vines check us out on Artfire

Have you seen or experienced a similar form of challenge that ended as a true silver lining? Please share your thoughts, experiences, and how you survive…