The Story Of My Jewelry Brand

Me, circa 2017. A photoshoot my guy helped me with of me modeling my jewelry.

If you’d like a little context/peek at my website before we start, you can find it here.

A little bit about me

My name is Minty (also known as Melinda, though not as much) and I am from Long Island, NY. I have lived in northern California for almost as long though! North Carolina next. I left Long Island when I was 18 to go to art school in Boston (which I never finished — I did three semesters. It was a great ticket out of NY but my skill and confidence were too poor to handle college). My dorm was actually in Cambridge, which I absolutely adored. The cobblestone streets, the walking through Harvard Yard (the squirrels are very personable in Harvard Yard), experiencing the whole culture. Street musicians were a very present feature there. Eventually I got very into Buddhism (no longer a Buddhist, but still have positive feelings towards it) which is what led me to California, where I actually lived in a Chinese Buddhist monastery for a whopping three years! Instead of going to bars when I turned 21, I moved into a monastery. I wasn’t a nun or anything. Anyway, I moved out after three years, but stayed in California. That’s how I got here!

The Beginning

I story of my jewelry brand started in 2012 with an inspired and enterprising feeling — “Oooh! I want make jewelry and sell it!”. Now it’s almost 2022 and my brand has grown up with me for about a decade.

I started buying jewelry supplies at local craft stores, then moved on to buying supplies and charms from Etsy. For most of those years I never sold very much jewelry. Eventually, I did a makeover of my brand and jewelry, and shifted into a new collection that was much nicer, and more cohesive. Before we continue with the story, here is a photographic retrospective!

2012 – Playful beginnings, not focused on one style.

2013

2014

2015

2016

This was four years in, in 2016, when I joined a website called ScoutMob and started to get some regular orders. I also started my website and instagram account, that year. It still wasn’t a lot but definitely an improvement. Five orders in one week’s time would not have been the usual, so I was very happy taking this photo!

Some early packaging…. (Oh yeah, I haven’t acknowledged that I have a weird business name yet, have I? It was on purpose, though! I was wracking my brain trying to come up with some beautifully poetic name. At the time so many cool jewelry brands had names like “Rose and Anchor” or “Fern and Forest” — that kinda thing. But I started to feel a sort of inauthenticity while trying to come up with such a name. In reaction to that, I decided to name my jewelry business something so darn literal and plain…that maybe it bordered on interesting and creative…or at the very least quirky. And so it has been Good Looking Objects since 2012. Stick around to the end to find out what I am changing the name to!

The first refining my brand .

Best sellers from my older collection; these gorgeous large oak leaf earrings. I took a lot of gorgeous photos next to this window in a house we rented some years ago.
My kitty Joleen lounging on my antique victorian dresser which lives in my little office studio. My style has always had at least a touch of a Victorian influence.

Creating My Own Website

As I said, my aesthetic got more refined when I started my own website in 2016. At the time I was creating designs using already-made brass charms which I ordered from extensive catalogs; these charms were newly made, but from vintage tools (“molds”, if you will, but not really). To my knowledge and recollection, these charm designs were from about the 70’s or so. I altered these charms and sent them off to be plated in gold, giving then a higher quality. (I only had gold pieces at the time, even though sterling is my favorite. For some reason I didn’t think plating in silver would look quality enough). It was so much fun! The vibe was very Victorian-fairy-tale.

I still have many of these in stock, protected in little baggies stored in my tiny studio. The one on the left, the Storybook Initial Necklace, is my favorite. I find it to be heartbreakingly beautiful! If you’d like to purchase this old Good Looking Objects piece, please email me at quite.magical.jewelry@gmail.com and I will see if I have your initial in stock. I have been preciously holding onto them…
My old pieces have quite the same sentiment as my new pieces… My inspirations are still the same.

And then, I started creating my own charms!

I got involved in facebook jewelry groups and was made aware of a thing called “casting”. This funny (and ancient) thing where you carved the piece of jewelry you wanted out of wax, which you then sent off to have a mold made and then have multiples of that piece cast in metals like sterling and gold. My favorite piece of jewelry to this day is my first “original original” design, the Garden Gate Necklace, shown below. I’ve continued to make more and more of these original pieces over the years. For this necklace, I studies many photos of traditional iron gates, and from that I made a combination of my favorite elements, making my own gate design.

The Tea Time Ring was *also* a first along with the Garden Gate Necklace. It’s style is a little unexpected in the sense that it’s quite modern, but it just tickled me to think of something as age-old and dainty as tea time being portrayed in this very modern style. People have always been tickled by this piece, as well!
My best seller, the Handful of Magic.

Hand Carved Pieces

This is one of my earlier hand carved pieces, the Paw of Magic. I worked on it off and on for a year or two. This isn’t typical, but I really wanted to take my time and get it right, without any rush. To strike the perfect balance between cute, magical, and somewhat traditional to honor the magic of kitties. Luckily, this has been a popular piece and is still sold in my shop! Not every design is a hit, so it’s always really nice when people respond enthusiastically to my art.
The double sided Eyes Necklace, another hand carved piece. On the other side, the eye is closed.

Instagram

Okay, the urge to complain about this app is definitely there. But this is a retrospective, so I will speak to the beginnings of my instagram journey, first. I started my account in 2016 and have been posting ever since. How I wish it was still the times of 2016 instagram. Heck, I wasn’t even early to the app, but getting followers, visibility and engagement was enormously easier back in 2016. Either way, this app, as much as it has declined, has been my best tool for exposure.

Gratitude

I was tagged in a number of photos on instagram this week, which was a reminder of the connections i’ve made. I feel the two greatest things that have come out of Good Looking Objects is, yes, the small income but also the beautiful, truly kind humans i’ve had the fortune of meeting. As for the bit of income, I realize that may not sound very romantic, but it bothers me when people say “do it just for the joy of it”. Sure, there is joy sometimes, but let’s be honest — we need to earn income! I will say someone else a bit taboo; jewelry is far from my identity. It is not what inspires me most. However, from my designs, packaging, social media, and dedication – you can probably sense i’m far from disinterested. I love my little jewelry business!

However, the connections i’ve made — that is quite romantic indeed. Thank you truly for your kindness, support, conversation and spirit. It amazes me how supportive and involved many have been. ♥

What Now?

What is it like to be the creator of this little brand? A whole mix of fun, creative expression, frustration, worry, inspiration, envy, mishaps, patience, angst, sweet connections…and so on! There’s a lot that goes into it, so the emotions are complex.

While this is something I have thought about for years, I have finally decided to change my business name. Please welcome: Garden Gate Jewelry. This name feels like second nature, as for so many years my favorite piece of jewelry has been the Garden Gate Necklace. I feel revived with this change, and am working on a website re-fresh with the new name, which I will officially debut in January, I think.

Another goal I have is to finally do a trade show. If you don’t know what that is, think of a very refined craft show, where each booth has their brand and products very professionally on display, and the people who browse the booths are buyers for resellers/brick and mortars. You expose yourself to many potential buyers, and some make wholesale orders with you right then and there, which you fulfill later on. Exposure has always been a challenge, so I think there is a possibility that if I invested (it costs a lot of money) in getting myself into a trade show, I could possibly, finally, be making an income I could truly live off of. This has been the dream all along.

Thank you so much for reading the story of my jewelry brand thus far! You can visit my jewelry shop at: www.goodlookingobjects.com (it will soon be gardengatejewelry.com)

PS: there is a sale going on today for Cyber Monday, 25% off with code JOURNEY – ends 12am.

Continue Reading

Making My First Basket For Beginners

lady smiling holding tiny handmade basket

Read about a total beginner’s experience making my first beginner basket out of coiled pine needles — using a kit meant for beginners!

I bought this kit by Traditional Craft Kits from a lovely shop in Mendocino, California. I’d been wanting to make a basket for some time and had my eyes on some kits online, so when I came across a big selection of kits in this shop, I dug through to find one that was meant for a beginner! Learning tried and true traditional methods of crafts, cooking and lifestyle is a path I want to walk more and more, so I knew starting my basket learning journey would be beneficial to my spirit.

You might think i’d have started this project quickly after — but I sat on it for a good month or two! Whenever I thought about doing it I felt intimidated by the process, worried about moments of confusion and frustration. Finally, I set the stage for taking on this project by tidying an area of my home. The process of tidying and freeing up a really nice space to work on your project makes such a difference in getting the wheels turning.

And then I began!

The first step was boiling the dry and brittle pine needles so they became soft and flexible.

Pine needles boiling in water on a stovetop
Boiling the pine needles to soften them. You get a lovely fragrance in the kitchen!

I told you I was intimidated by potential moments of confusion and frustration; those emotions visited quite early on in the journey starting with the first steps. As a total beginner, I don’t know how much the directions for this lovely little kit could use more detail versus it just being my particular beginner mind getting confused at a couple of parts throughout the making of it. My first hiccup was making a chain of several knots, but not knowing how tight they should be. Being a beginner, I thought “let me be real neat and tidy right from the start” and made the knots tight, but it turned out they needed to be loose.

Can we agree that when one faces such a grueling life challenge as have to re-do one step of a craft project, an ice cream break is in order? Well, I took such a break. And yes, that’s vanilla ice cream but don’t judge me — I embellish it with organic crunchy peanut butter and freshly ground cardamom. Fact about me: I feel strongly that households around the world should have cardamom seeds in a grinder just like they may have their salt and pepper. Grind it on ice cream, honey butter toast, oatmeal — sweet things. It’s amazing.

After my little break I was ready to continue, and things went on relatively smoothly for a bit. Even as a beginner, you do learn and figure things out a bit as you move along. However, I did hit my next road bump.

close up of lady holding a basket in the process of being woven

I simply could not figure out what a section of the instructions meant. Being the resourceful gal I am, I headed to facebook, found their business page and sent a message. She replied immediately! I actually finished the basket before getting the answer to my question. I just kinda winged it, and it made sense enough and continued looking like a basket! The reason for the delay in an answer to my question was because she decided to very kindly make a video explanation for me. She explained what that section of the instructions meant. I sincerely thanked her for taking the time to do that for me — excellent customer service all around. Perhaps my reaching out also provided her with some feedback on how a total beginner is able, or not able, to make sense of the instructions.

And there it was, the very first basket made by my hands!

The verdict is that I absolutely want to make many, many more baskets in my lifetime. As I suspected, it is satisfying and rewarding to bind up bits of nature and form it into a basket, something to hold the stuff of daily living. This little basket feels lovely to hold, and it’s adding another natural element to my bedroom.

finished small pine needle basket
pine needle basket on a desk with basket making supplies

I did it, guys! If you’ve been wanting to make a basket, I highly recommend going ahead and trying it. If you’re feeling bold you can learn online and source your own materials, or you can purchase a kit like I did!

Have you ever made a basket before? Comment below and tell me what you remember about it — the process, or the type and material of basket. I’d really love to hear!

Shop Basket Kits:

The kit I used: Coiled Basket Kit for Beginners – Pine Needle (if you purchase this one and get confused, feel free to send me a message or voicemail over on instagram and i’ll likely get back to you right away!)

Similar but larger, more lovely and more advanced: Coiled Basket Kit – Pine Needle

When I get WAY better: Basket Kit, 10″ Cottage Basket

And another: Katelyn’s Shaker Basket

Resources and More Inspiration:

One of the first videos I saw of someone making a pine needle basket. She shows you how to forage for your own pine needles, as well — a very lovely video.

Tutorial videos for the exact basket I made. This is a playlist, scroll until you see the start of the videos of the beginner pine needle basket. PS: I suspect she may be adding more videos for this kit, as well.

Here’s a video of a dude making a basket out of blackberry bramble. As he said, it may not win any beauty contests, but it does the job. I’ve got to try this! Definitely not while wearing a dress, as I briefly mentioned in my previous post.

Got some newspaper? Check this neat tutorial out.

Continue Reading