Leslie Bowes of Elbows Designs
When Leslie from Elbows Designs sits down at her worktable in Littleton, Colorado she fulfills a lifelong need for creativity and self-expression. Early on she expressed herself with mismatched socks and a wild sense of style. Through the years this was cultivated into artistic endeavors including hand painted wedding cards and elaborately decorated mud pies. Leslie has an unrelenting desire to create and to connect with other people. These desires fuel her jewelry designs.
When I first saw Leslie’s jewelry designs on her Etsy shop I was taken aback at the bold colors and funky shapes. I was smitten with an idea (which I had never had before); jewelry could be fun and that I could wear something with a sense of abandonment and humor! Leslie’s style will inspire you to have fun with your accessory choices, to embrace a sense of whimsy, and to live with enthusiasm.
LAJ: How did you get started in Jewelry?
Leslie: I suppose the combination of being an avid jewelry wearer and inherently creative person pretty much always had me fiddling with jewelry making, even as a child. I created mostly beaded things, then I went through a hemp macramé phase in high school... but it wasn't until I randomly found some wire in my messy supply box that I really connected with a material. I just loved that a simple strand could take any turn, with the freedom to become anything my imagination produced. When I discovered how many colors wire comes in, that was the end - totally hooked!
LAJ: What inspires your jewelry designs?
Leslie: I've actually never given this a thought... but I certainly feel inspired! It must be things within me that drive my design process; aspects of my personality, like the concept of unbridled joy balanced with the peace of organization... I ran across a quote once that describes this dichotomy perfectly: "I adore spontaneity, providing it is carefully planned". I could identify with that immediately, and I think it's present in my wild yet harnessed jewelry as well - thus my tagline "quirky-chic". My inspirations are definitely abstract things, though - nothing concrete (except for that time I was so inspired by a homegrown crookneck squash that I had to whip up a silly little wire version as an ode to its beauty).
LAJ: What kinds of tools do you use?
Leslie: The vast majority of my pieces are formed with just my 2 hands. I find that even with my lettering, a more freeform/organic style is more appealing to me than precision and perfection would be.
I do have a friendly arsenal of pliers to form the opening and closing loops of each piece, or when attaching hardware. My favorite tool is a silly 99-cent slotted knuckle ring that makes opening and closing jump rings a breeze...Best. Purchase. Ever.
LAJ: What is the process for you from the start of a design until it ships?
Leslie: The easy and fun part is forming my vision for a piece into reality, but sometimes it takes a few drafts to get it right (especially when I'm trying to match earrings!).
Then on to photography - this involves laying the piece on a large swath of poster board at my desk and shooting away, trying my best to be artsy but also conveying the needed information to the customer. When our schedules allow, I also do shoots with my modeling friend, Lexi.
We always have a blast, and somehow through the silliness we manage to get some usable shots, haha!
Then it's over to my laptop for photo editing - usually with PicMonkey. (On that note, I seriously look forward to getting my first "real" camera soon so I'm not as frustrated during shooting and editing - yay!) Once the piece is listed, I do my promoting via Etsy, Pinterest, and I've recently started to explore Instagram. Once it sells, I enjoy adding in a couple personal touches while assembling the order to let my customers know how much I appreciate them.
LAJ: Etsy is a great community of artists and art lovers. How has Etsy positively impacted your business? Are there any negatives of having your business on Etsy?
Leslie: Etsy has given me the platform I needed to be able to reach people anywhere - not just the people who happen to see me, or my friends, wearing my jewelry. Yes, it is quite difficult to be "found" in the vast sea of jewelers, but I genuinely enjoy the Etsy experience - getting to "hang out" with fellow artists and enjoying their creations is both fun and inspiring to me. Overall I feel like it's a relatively easy and flexible way to sell things that I'd likely be creating anyway.
LAJ: What advice would you give yourself of 5 years ago?
Leslie: Get a shop on Etsy and start learning how to best use it (I've only had my shop for 3 years). Bite the bullet and get a better camera - it will save you SO much time and frustration. And list items regularly - every day if possible!
LAJ: What do you hope that people see/get from your jewelry designs?
Leslie: I hope people see the whimsy of my personality and the joy that went into creating each piece. And if I could inspire a spark of creativity in someone else to express themselves - whether it be through art, music, dance, or even just speech - that would be wonderful!
I don’t know about you, but I feel inspired to mismatch my socks, wear bold funky jewelry, and feel fabulous!
To shop Leslie’s Jewelry Designs go to her Etsy Shop: www.elbowsdesigns.etsy.com
Follow Leslie on Istagram: @elbowsdesigns
Follow Leslie on Pinterest: pinterest.com/elbowsdesigns
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