Cat, for once, away from her workbench

I met Cat nearly 3 years ago when I was just starting out my own business.  Her hysterical blog, Olive Bites, drew me to her but then I saw that she was running not one successful Etsy shop but two!  Uncorked and Polarity jewelry was selling like hot cakes (and still is) and somehow she still finds the time to partner with an array of amazing artists to create new collaborative works.  I knew you’d have a ton of great wisdom and advice to share and I’m so thrilled I got to chat with her again!

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

I used to be a banker (not the kind that makes gazillions of dollars). I started as a bank teller when I left college and worked my way to vice president.
I worked with a lot of business clients and learned a lot about money from that process. Eventually I was burned out and needed something more my own.
I launched a personalized print product line on mall carts during the holidays and started selling collages I made at craft shows and a few local stores. I had always worked with sustainable materials and things that had outgrown their original usefulness, so my jewelry lines have just been a natural outgrowth of that.
I now work with cork, recycled steel and wood scraps to create my Uncorked and Polarity Locket lines which are sold online and in dozens of gift shops and museum gift shops around the world!

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

My biggest challenges are always internal – the physical demands of production work, the 24/7 pull of this thing – the feeling that other people have this so much more together than I do (which could be true actually – ha!).

It’s usually more about letting go of my attachment to a specific outcome (sometimes big opportunities that come up do not end up happening) than overcoming for me.


 Arrow Color Block Recycled Cork Keychains

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

My fist pumps are when an idea works or when I do something I didn’t think was possible for me. I never thought I could learn to weld. I had been burned as a child over 30% of my body and had always been afraid of fire, so mastering the flame (and master may be the wrong word here!) was huge for me.

I’ve had a lot of good things happen with my business – new accounts and opportunities, too, that were definitely worth celebrating!

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

I have about 5 new jewelry lines still in my head. I am going to write a book or maybe many books, but have no idea what they will be about.

I am going to start a service business, maybe something local that connects people – but have no idea yet what that is going to look like.

I just catch little glimpses of these future selves I will be creating.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

There are times when creativity is alive – like ideas are catching fire and you can’t sleep. And those are great and amazing times.

But I am more about the process than the outcome and I know that explosive energy at the beginning will wane – it’s supposed to wane.

The real stuff happens after it wanes. It’s part of the flow, you just have to move with it. Now our lives are our own – we always have free will – so we can jump into the flow at any place and any moment.

If I want to make something new but am stuck – I make something else – like a cake or a poem or take my camera to the junk yard – there are uncountable ways to move back into the vibration.


Pinterest Locket

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

I am not so great at this and I had thought until recently that this was ok since I was in a period of my life that work could take a greater piece of me, but I am rethinking this.

It should only take so much of us – it should take 100% of that part – but we still need the other parts to be healthy. My typical day is a terrible example of balance right now – unless balance is me, spinning plates on every finger and toe, I wouldn’t recommend it.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

I am not sure I have ever made any marketing moves – I just make connections.

I collaborate with a lot of artists. I got on Twitter when everyone said – “you must do Twitter”, then along came Facebook, then just as we get settled there along comes LinkedIn and Pinterest and Instagram – it’s never going to end, but the days of any kind of traditional marketing are gone and the whole thing for makers like me is exhausting.

We just have to realize there are a whole hell of a lot of people that are just never going to hear about us! Niche PR beats any kind of marketing – stuff like this interview – thank you very much, Megan!


 Rhino Fun Necklace made from recycled cork

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

It is not about finding our passion.

So many people get stuck in that idea.

It is about being passionate about the work we do.

These things get unearthed through process. We can only start from where we are, so when we choose to do the things we are doing today with more passion, whatever those things are – the form doesn’t matter, only the energy; the intention matters – when we start being passionate about our life as it is, we draw more and more of the things we are passionate about into our world.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I’m definitely seeing myself living a more balanced life – more hands in the dirt instead of the keyboard, more travel, most likely doing something that hasn’t even occurred to me yet!

You can find more of Cat’s work in her Etsy shops: Uncorked and Polarity

On her Facebook page: Olive Bites

And on Etsy’s Quit Your Day Job series

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