Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
My name is Kristin Perkins. I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Prior to making and selling my jewelry full time, I held various administrative positions in the fields of dentistry, solid waste removal, emergency medicine, and venture capital.
I now live next to Ann Arbor in the City of Ypsilanti with my two children. Ypsilanti is a down-to-earth community and I love that its residents are so supportive of local artists, local businesses, local farmers, etc. I learned how to blow glass nine years ago at Baron Glassworks here in Ypsilanti and have been obsessed with working with hot glass ever since. I am a self taught beadmaker (aside from my initial instruction on the torch). I learned how to make jewelry in high school and I’d made different types of jewelry ever since, but finally when I could incorporate my own vibrantly colored beads into my work I had found the exact material I needed to control the colors, size, and shape of the final product.
I’m a member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers and its Michigan Chapter called, GlassAct.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
It seems that I have always made things so I don’t really remember the FIRST thing I made. But the first handmade craft I remember being really into was those braided key chains made from plastic cord. I learned how to make them in day camp and enjoyed them so much that my mom took me to the craft store and I bought a bunch of cord in all different colors and made key chains like crazy. I liked combining colors and trying to perfect the technique as I tried more and more complex patterns. I also liked that they were a useful item that I could make in one sitting.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
I am inspired mostly by color and putting colors together. I also love clean designs and simple shapes. Some of my favorite color schemes I have used in my beads have been inspired by interior design magazines or by a favorite purse.
What are your favorite materials?
I love glass (of course) and sterling silver. Through the years I have enjoyed working with polymer clay, resin, colored paper, and acrylic paint.
What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
First, the advice to join was something I wish I had taken sooner. Etsy is so easy to use and for me the results have corresponded to the time and effort I put in. And the time and effort is enjoyable…looking at all of the talent on Etsy and also socializing with like minded people. I haven’t been on Etsy very long, but I am learning a ton about Internet marketing and developing an online presence. I have almost exclusively wholesaled my work for the past eight years so I’ve had little opportunity to interact with end buyers of my work. Etsy and the few small art shows I do give me the opportunity to see an immediate customer/viewer response to my work.
Why should people buy handmade?
Handmade items have always been more special to me and have more personality than mass produced items. I grew up wearing handmade clothes, playing with handmade dolls, living in a house full of handmade décor, and watching my parents and grandparents give gifts that they either made by hand or bought handmade. It’s just always been a preference of mine to gift or surround myself with items that are handmade by me or someone else. I love having people compliment me on a piece of jewelry I’m wearing or a purse I’m carrying and to be able to tell them about the piece and the artist…then to tell the artist later how much their work is admired! Even before I started selling my own work, I wanted to connect with the artists whose work I purchased by writing them to tell them how much I enjoyed the piece.
I think that the handmade buying experience is enhanced on Etsy because the communication between buyer and artist is so easy.
What features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?
I am so impressed with all of the features on Etsy so far. The only thing I would change on Etsy is the ability to arrange images in an order so that I can group sets together and make my site look more organized.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I am a mother of two…Maxwell is 9 and Natalie is 6. I also own and manage a four unit rental property that was built in the 1860s.
Read any good books lately?
The last book I read was Into The Wild. I can’t wait to see the movie!
In ten years I’d like to be…
I have been so fortunate to achieve what I have so far with my jewelry. I accomplish more and more every year. I hope to continue growing my business!