Carolina Gonzalez of Neovamp Jewelry: A Jewelry Business Success Story
by Carolina Gonzalez.
NeoVamp showcases the original art and design of Carolina Gonzalez, a creative multi-media artist living in the Canary Islands.
Despite the limited size of the island where she lives, Carolina has attracted a following of devoted customers who keep coming back for more of her unique jewelry.
NeoVamp Jewelry is Carolina’s fine bijouterie line, consisting of all handmade and one-of-a-kind pieces.
Most of her jewelry is fantasy themed with intricate wirework, and the names of her pieces come from myths, legends, and fairy lore.
When Carolina isn’t working on her jewelry line, she paints, makes and customizes dolls, creates altered art and mixed media collage, and many other things.
However, when it comes to business, “jewelry is my main occupation as it is the most demanded and profitable right now,” says Carolina. “I give 50% of my working time to jewelry.”
Carolina Gonzalez of Neovamp Jewelry
by Rena Klingenberg
1) How did you first get into making jewelry?
Because of dollmaking, about five years ago.
I wanted to make my fairy dolls some jewelry so I bought wire and some beads.
A friend saw the doll and asked for a pair of earrings like the ones the fairy was wearing.
To be honest I wasn’t too interested in making jewelry as, living in a small island, the market niche was not easy to find.
But two years after that I found WigJig through Internet, and fell in love with wire working – I’ve never used a jig, and now I think I never will.
2) What type of customers do you design jewelry for, and why did you choose them?
I work mainly on commission, so my average customer is someone who really knows what she wants – and wants something unique and out of the ordinary.
If I had to place them as a marketing target, I’d say is a 30- to 50-year-old woman, financially independent, with a university degree, interested in art and with a strong need to feel ultra-chic.
3) What are the main ways you market your jewelry (shows, parties, shops, website, online auctions, etc.)?
Mainly through my customers – yes, I’m that lucky!
I think Internet is also important, but more in terms of making yourself a name in this business.
It’s a retroactive situation – through the Internet I connect and contribute with other artists (jewelers or not), and that is always a point of interest to my direct customers, who are mostly as I said artsy people.
I don’t do auctions because I give away a good part of my work, and don’t do shops either because I’ve had a couple of bad experiences – as most jewelers have.
My jewelry is very affordable and I take really good care of my customers, so more than 90% of them buy again and again.
4) You are a very multi-creative artist. Do you also sell your paintings, custom dolls, miniatures, embellished handbags, purses, wallets, etc.?
And collages, and house decor, and shrines…. Yes, I do sell them, but not all the pieces I make.
I have a strong tendency to give away things. Last week I gave my most expensive doll to a friend, just because she loved the doll more than I did!
That happens with my paintings a lot too. There are many things I do I would only sell for a really obscene amount of money, and things I will never sell – ever.
I also trade services or help for my work. If you choose to have a free, creative life you must not be chained to money.
5) Where do you get your artistic ideas and inspiration? Do your other artistic skills play a part in your jewelry designs?
As an artist, I find mostly everything to be inspiring! There is so much beauty and perfection in Nature, in Arts, in people….
I have to say I am really sensitive to music and always play music while I work.
Also, many of my works are simply religious offerings to the Goddess…. I love to think I honour the Goddess by making her daughters look better with my jewelry!
I don’t like to talk about “influences” because I think Art is Art and Art History is an invention of man. I find Picasso’s work very close to prehistoric art, or El Bosco to Frida Kahlo.
Of course I have my favourite artists – Brian Froud, Gustav Klimt, William Bouguereau, Alphonse Mucha, Antoni Gaudi, Leonardo DaVinci … and in the jewelry field I’d say the Arts & Crafts Movement.
If you mix that with The Doors, The Cure and Danzig and add a touch of Jim Jarmusch and Tim Burton, you may get an idea of what my inspiration comes from!
Yes, of course my artistic skills play a BIG part in my design. I’ve painted jewelry, sculpted jewelry, sewn jewelry … and there is jewelry on my non-jewelry works!!!
I like to think that all the things I’ve learned move together to create art.
6) What is the most challenging thing about selling your work in the Canary Islands?
This is a very small market and it is very important to make your customers “defend your cause”.
But … I also think that if you are truly original you will find your way, no matter if you’re in a small or big place.
Opportunities are there for those who make them happen.
I could complain about how small this place is, but I rejoice because here, I have no rivals.
I am the only person in this island to make handmade jewelry like mine so … customers will have to come to me!
7) Can you tell us about your TV interview – How did they choose you? Where was your interview broadcast? Were you nervous?
They saw my Neovamp website and phoned me to come to my studio at home – that very day! I was scared to death – I’m the type of person that never ever dreamed of being on TV – but I have to say it was so flattering that they found my work interesting enough to call me.
The TV girls were extremely nice and generous and, by the time of going on the air I was calm and everything was so easy. In fact I think there will be a second part to it, as they really liked my work and wanted to show it in an extended interview, somewhere in the near future.
8) Has this media exposure brought you new customers and new opportunities?
Yes, of course. Besides the extra selling it helped starting my new bridal line. I will be publishing a bridal jewelry catalogue in a couple of months, due to a commission for a wedding that came from the TV show.
I never thought of making bridal jewelry before, but some of my more Victorian pieces would do perfectly on brides. And, of course, the more known you become, the more respect and trust you get from your customers, and more likely they will be to suggest your work to other possible customers.
9) How did you get the idea for creating your own gorgeous jewelry displays and packaging?
I really wanted to stay away from the usual handcrafted stuff I’ve seen here (on the Canary Islands) and wanted to give my exhibitions a more luxurious look.
I want my customers to feel like Goddessess, and my
Lady displays really start their imagination on how would they feel wearing that piece!
I loved making them and I am always looking for new ideas for displaying as my work evolves.
To me it is essential to take a lot of care of details – the jewelry shows your work, but details give you the mark of excellence.
Every hour I take making special packages for commissions, or hand writing thank you cards I printed with my hand-carved rubber stamps was more than well invested.
Customers are my only investment !
10) How have you set up your creative workspace to accommodate your various art forms – your jewelry, painting, dollmaking, miniatures, and more – and the supplies for all of them?
Very versatile and practical. I tend to work on 3 to 4 day periods on jewelry – then another 3 to 4 days on collage – and so on, so I have a big table where I put everything I need for that works and put the rest in shelves.
I am a very tidy person so that is not a big problem. The only craft I make that is a headache to my tidyness is dollmaking! I usually have to work, in one doll, with nearly every technique and material I have on my studio!
11) What has been the most rewarding thing about your jewelry business so far?
Seeing the face of some of my customers when they put on their new jewelry at my studio and look at themselves in the mirror. Being recognized as an artist by other artists I’ve met on the Internet.
Having an incredible response of more than 5000 visits to my Flickr page – in two months only!
12) What is one thing you’ve experimented with in your jewelry business that you would NOT do again?
Working for selling instead of working for growing. Listening to other people’s advice. Working to please others – and so many more mistakes I’ve made along the way.
13) Do you have any other advice for multi-media jewelry artists who want to market their work?
A few ones:
First, choose your customers! Don’t let customers choose you.
Second, don’t copy! You are much more interesting when you are yourself, so don’t try to be anyone else.
Third, learn some marketing!
Note from Rena:
Carolina, thank you so much for inviting us into your lovely and artistic Neovamp world. You’ve shown us that original work and loving attention to every detail are important ingredients in a jewelry artist’s success formula.