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Workspace Tour: Jstar Jewelry Designs

Blog

Workspace Tour: Jstar Jewelry Designs

Academy Of Handmade

Ever curious about other maker workspaces? Of course you! We are all snoopy and who doesn't love a good studio tour? In this ongoing series, we check out our members' workspaces. Some are home offices and some are completely separate. But it's always fun to see the creative ways they set up their business. Enjoy!

Q: Please, introduce yourself.
A: My name is Jessica Starnes, and I'm the owner/designer of Jstar Jewelry Designs. Both of my parents were talented artists, so crafting is in my blood. I feel like I tried every craft out there before discovering jewelry making while working in a travel-heavy job right after college.

Once I settled in Colorado, I was frequently asked by coworkers/friends/etc. to purchase the pieces I had made for myself, and eventually was offered the opportunity to sell some pieces to the women's boutique where I worked. This helped me catch the attention of a local sales rep, who offered to sell my line in her Denver showroom and on the road all over the Rocky Mountains, and then eventually led to a connection with a second sales rep based in the Midwest.

Through my experience working in that boutique, I saw a lot of beautiful handmade jewelry, but it was mostly quite expensive... precious or semi-precious stones and precious metals, which made the price point higher than most women could easily afford.

 I wanted to design jewelry that would offer the aesthetics of handmade pieces at a price that would make owning a collection of handmade jewelry accessible to more women.  

The cost of the materials I'm working with dictates how pieces get designed, so if I want to use a really nice gemstone, I might create a really simple wire shape from a lower cost metal (like brass or copper) in order to keep the price of the finished piece within a certain price range.

This one of two areas where I spend most of my time… my production table.  Since I spend most of my time in the studio at this table, I put it under the tiny window so that I can at least look outside.  The window may be tiny, but the view is really nice:

This one of two areas where I spend most of my time… my production table.  Since I spend most of my time in the studio at this table, I put it under the tiny window so that I can at least look outside.  The window may be tiny, but the view is really nice:

Q: What sort of work space set up do you have now and has it changed at all since you started
A:
I am fortunate enough to have an entire (small) room in my house to use as my jewelry studio, but it hasn't always been this way! When I started my jewelry business a little over 5 years ago, I lived in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment, and my "studio" was a rolling storage ottoman that fit under my coffee table. As my business grew and I wanted to try techniques that needed more space/stability, I bought a cheap work table on Craigslist and dedicated a little corner of my living room as my work space. When I moved in with my boyfriend (fiance now!!), I set up my work space in his office... (and by "office," I really mean "tiny room that didn't get used for anything except piling up paperwork")  

It’s not unusual for me to need to measure something longer than a ruler, so I used to keep a tape measure on my desk,but it was a hassle to keep up with it, to pull it out to the right length, hope it stayed locked and didn’t fall over, etc. I recently decided to glue a flexible fabric tape measure to the edge of my production table so now I can measure anything to any length without stopping to look for a measuring device.

It’s not unusual for me to need to measure something longer than a ruler, so I used to keep a tape measure on my desk,but it was a hassle to keep up with it, to pull it out to the right length, hope it stayed locked and didn’t fall over, etc. I recently decided to glue a flexible fabric tape measure to the edge of my production table so now I can measure anything to any length without stopping to look for a measuring device.

My business continued to grow, and there was always more stuff to keep up with (more beads, more tools, more paperwork, more shipping supplies, more EVERYTHING!), so I slowly took over the room to the point that it's now filled entirely with the things I need to run my business.

This is the current version of my desk… it’s all wrong (who needs a cabinet for a desktop computer tower anymore?!?!?!) but it was FREE. There used to be a giant hutch on top, but I recently demolished that and now it feels so big and open! And if I need more space (for packing orders or writing order notes, etc.) I just tuck my laptop into the keyboard tray.

This is the current version of my desk… it’s all wrong (who needs a cabinet for a desktop computer tower anymore?!?!?!) but it was FREE. There used to be a giant hutch on top, but I recently demolished that and now it feels so big and open! And if I need more space (for packing orders or writing order notes, etc.) I just tuck my laptop into the keyboard tray.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your workspace? Your least favorite?
A:
My favorite thing about my studio is my decorations! I love that the main living spaces of our house are pretty clean/neutral/minimalist, but in my studio, I love color and texture and knick-knacks!  I have all sorts of things that make me happy on the walls or sitting on a shelf, because I feel like being in a happy space helps me be my most creative. Family photos, notes and gifts from friends, pretty rocks, etc... I just love having a whole room that brings me joy every time I walk in!

My least favorite thing about my studio is that because we live in the mountains at an altitude of almost nine thousand feet, and the first floor of our house (where my studio is) is partially below ground, it is ALWAYS cold in there. It's really hard to do small detailed work with your hands when you're freezing!  I have a space heater that makes it comfortable enough to work, but I've had to work with it running in the summer because that level of the house just doesn't warm up!

I completely stole this idea from Pinterest, but I’ve owned this trunk since I was about 8 years old and it wasn’t beingused for anything else anywhere in the house, so I bought some of those metal hanging file inserts and made it into myfile drawer.

I completely stole this idea from Pinterest, but I’ve owned this trunk since I was about 8 years old and it wasn’t beingused for anything else anywhere in the house, so I bought some of those metal hanging file inserts and made it into myfile drawer.

Q: What makes you feel the most productive in your workspace?
A:
 I'm constantly thinking about how to maximize productivity, and for me, organization is key! Even though it may take extra time, maintaining the organization of my work space helps me be as productive as I possibly can be.

I don't necessarily clean up everything every day, but if I'm done with tools or supplies, they get put away immediately. If I find myself struggling to find something in the studio, I know that's an area of organization that I need to tackle, and I either deal with it right then or write it down to take care of when I have more time.

I used to spend so much (too much!) time trying to find specific beads, or a certain receipt, or the power supply for my photography lights, so I've found that if I just take the time to organize it well once, I have more time to use for actual productivity.

Storage #2: This is the only piece of furniture in the studio that I purchased brand new specifically for the studio.  As my business has grown, so has my inventory of supplies.  After trying every possible storage option I already owned, I broke down and bought this Ikea Alex drawer unit, and it holds SO MUCH STUFF.  I actually see this unit a lot in the pictures of other people’s studios, so it must be a good one!

Storage #2: This is the only piece of furniture in the studio that I purchased brand new specifically for the studio.  As my business has grown, so has my inventory of supplies.  After trying every possible storage option I already owned, I broke down and bought this Ikea Alex drawer unit, and it holds SO MUCH STUFF.  I actually see this unit a lot in the pictures of other people’s studios, so it must be a good one!

Someone must have used this room as a bedroom at some point,because the closet was set up with hanging bars that make no sense in an office. I removed the doors and hanging bars and had my boyfriend and his dad build some additional shelf space, so now I have room for supply catalogs, office supplies, extra display boards, my photography equipment, my tool box, and (not visible in the picture) a fair amount of bubble wrap and paper for shipping.

Someone must have used this room as a bedroom at some point,because the closet was set up with hanging bars that make no sense in an office. I removed the doors and hanging bars and had my boyfriend and his dad build some additional shelf space, so now I have room for supply catalogs, office supplies, extra display boards, my photography equipment, my tool box, and (not visible in the picture) a fair amount of bubble wrap and paper for shipping.

These things make amazing hanging storage containers! I have them hanging next to my production desk, and as I finish and bag pieces of jewelry, I place the bags in the pouches to keep them out of the way until I’m ready to pack orders. I love that the pouches are clear so that I always know what’s in each one!

These things make amazing hanging storage containers! I have them hanging next to my production desk, and as I finish and bag pieces of jewelry, I place the bags in the pouches to keep them out of the way until I’m ready to pack orders. I love that the pouches are clear so that I always know what’s in each one!

My studio can’t just be all work and no play, so I use this odd built-in ledge to display some fun knick-knacks… anything that makes me happy.  The poster on the wall is from my first trunk show (so long ago that I didn’t have a logo!) and the photo is my great-great-grandparents. The pillow that says “Jessica’s thumb rest” was a joke gift from a coworker when I over-worked my hands one day bead weaving and my thumb would NOT stop twitching.  

My studio can’t just be all work and no play, so I use this odd built-in ledge to display some fun knick-knacks… anything that makes me happy.  The poster on the wall is from my first trunk show (so long ago that I didn’t have a logo!) and the photo is my great-great-grandparents. The pillow that says “Jessica’s thumb rest” was a joke gift from a coworker when I over-worked my hands one day bead weaving and my thumb would NOT stop twitching.

 

Q: Where can people find your work?
A:
My website www.jstarjewelrydesigns.com also has links to my Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!  I'm most active on Insta if you want to connect with me!