Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Foster.
Sarah, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Working as an executive assistant in the financial industry in downtown San Diego, in 2011, I’d felt like I’d made something of myself, especially as a small-town, college dropout from Washington State. I was proud of what I’d accomplished in my career and income. Until I wasn’t.
In less than two years, my creative abilities had atrophied. Fluorescent lights and the corporate atmosphere had drained my curiosity and the joy that I had when making things with my own hands.
One evening, after getting home from work, I was taking a bath – where I have some of my greatest ideas. Feeling emotionally and mentally flat, I knew something was missing from my life. Passion had faded. I was going through the motions like a robot, living someone else’s life. I threw my hands up (literally) and out of what felt like nowhere I said out loud, “What can I do to make money and be happy?!” Within seconds I got the sense it was jewelry. I was surprised. I hadn’t made jewelry in years. As a teenager I’d amassed a collection of beads from friends, family, trips, and bead store finds. When I was younger, I made jewelry to escape the confidence-depleting years of junior high and high school.
The ‘night of the tub’, I took out my boxes of beads and began making jewelry. I continued for the next two weeks. I was so excited to get home from work and *make*. I’ve never been able to fully describe how amazing that felt. Most days I stayed up until 4 or 5 in the morning, would get one hour of sleep, then head to work.
One day, I told my co-workers (mostly women) that I had made a bunch of jewelry and was going to bring it into the office the next day to sell in the breakroom.
I’ll paint the picture of what happened next: Have you ever witnessed someone throwing a handful of fries down on the ground and within seconds, hoards of squawking gulls flank from all sides to devour the greasy goodness? The women in my office swarmed my 3’x4’ corkboard where I had pinned my designs. While one woman would be holding a pair of earrings another women would insist, “I want the ones that she has. Make me a pair.” I couldn’t write custom orders fast enough. During lunch I’d made just over $300 from $8 earrings and up to $20 necklaces! I was hooked. I was surprised that real women – other than my mom – had actually liked my work. This confirmed I had a sense of style and should do something about it.
That first handmade jewelry business eventually failed, but not after for lack of trying. I was selling at downtown night clubs on Saturday nights. I’d set up a small table at a surf shop Sunday morning in Pacific Beach. I was posting product on Etsy. During this process, I quit my 9 to 5 job in hopes that I could dedicate more time to the business and generate more sales. It didn’t take long before I was burnt out making one of a kind pieces.
I went back to working a 9 to 5. Thinking I’d never do another jewelry business again, I wondered how I could someday work for myself but do it better. Within the first few months of sitting at yet another desk job, I figured out how I could recreate a single product and in less time.
It was a happy accident; I’d bought a set of letters for hand stamping metal jewelry. The set was deeply discounted at a local bead shop. I’d bought them on a whim. I began stamping bracelets and rings for myself that acted as goal reminders in attempt to shift my mindset (I’ve always been into personal growth). Having the complete freedom to stamp whatever words I wanted, I infused colorful language too. My girlfriends found out about my personal pieces and wanted bracelets and necklaces too. So, I began making orders.
I started this second jewelry business on the floor of my living room in Mission Beach in a 450 square foot apartment, just feet from the beach. Within several months I was designing for big names like NastyGal, who I later designed one of the necklaces that launched with their book #GIRLBOSS.
Within the first 2 years of business, my work was being shared all over social media by professional female athletes who were wearing my designs. BuzzFeed featured me twice and then ended up ordering my work for their e-commerce shop. I was commissioned to design for several New York Times bestsellers and have now shipped several thousand empowering pieces of jewelry to women in over 19 countries.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I make hand stamped jewelry with inspirational words and phrases to empower and inspire goal focused women.
Honestly, I started this for selfish purposes. I wanted to keep my goals present and stay positive. It turns out a lot of women want the same thing too.
From personal experience, I know that the only thing that stands between a person and their dreams is their own mindset and beliefs. By changing your thoughts, you can change the outcome of your life.
It seems cliché, but I’ve known for a long time that sharing my story and my experience with words is part of my purpose.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them?
For an artist wanting to contribute to the world *and* be compensated, the biggest challenge is learning how to be business-minded as well. It’s not often that an artist is naturally good at both.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My shop is at badbadjewelry.com. I post mostly to Instagram: Instagram.com/BADBADJewelry
- Website: badbadjewelry.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/BADBADJewelry
- Facebook: facebook.com/BADBADJewelry