Amy Neiwirth is having a great year. She recently moved into a new apartment, which allowed her to bring her jewelry and art studio back into her home, she sold nearly 500 pieces of jewelry in 2011, and she’s gotten lots of publicity− most notably, a mention in The Official Bicentennial Guide for 200Columbus.
Neiwirth started crafting the jewelry she sells under the moniker Sweet Stella Designs (named for her cat Stella) about five years ago. A native of Bexley, Neiwirth studied painting and drawing at The Ohio State University and went on to get a graduate degree in art education.
She felt the need to create and started making jewelry for friends. Her early polymer clay designs centered around ringed donuts. As she’s gotten better at working with clay, her designs have become quite intricate. Now you can wear darling candy-striped lollipop earrings, delightfully detailed fruit tart rings, or barrettes that look like sno cones filled with freshly crushed iced.
Neiwirth tested her hobby during her first year in business. In the second year, she was making enough money to get a vendors license and track all her expenses. Although she is not able to do Sweet Stella Designs full time, it has become a nice supplement to her job teaching art at a private school.
“I would have to make an absurd amount of product to go full time,” she says.
She enjoys having her studio back in her home. When the business launched, she was working out of a really small second bedroom. Then the jewelry began taking over the kitchen table and she moved the business to Junctionview Studios for a few years.
While the camaraderie with fellow artists was nice, working on very detailed miniatures in a space with open ceilings was challenging. Dust was a problem. She also had to transport her work home for baking and back to the studio for finishing. Finding her new home in Olde Towne East has provided her with the perfect space she needs to make work easier.
Her 323-square-foot studio is on the top floor of her apartment. It is a big open space with high ceilings and natural light. And the commute down one flight of stairs to the oven can’t be beat!
You can find Sweet Stella Designs in several shops around Columbus, on Etsy, and in several craft shows throughout the year. However, Neiwirth admits “it was a bit of a challenge getting in [to stores].” She met What the Rock?! owners Heather Ziegler and Mike Renner by going into the store with a friend, who made the introduction. The first time she attempted to get her designs carried at Wholly Craft, she was turned down.
“Rejection is not the end of the world,” she says. “They may just have what they need. I know I make good work and don’t take it personally.”
Eventually, she did get her jewelry picked up at Wholly Craft.
“If you feel confident about your product, it’s easier to sell,” she says.
Neiwirth makes a lot of her sales at the many craft shows held throughout the year. She advises business owners to create an indentifiable visual brand. That way, people can look for your table and your packaging at a store and know it is you.
Neiwirth has found a great support system among the members of the Columbus Crafty Cotillion, of which she is a member. It’s a social group and a collective of artists, crafters, and designers in the Columbus area. She says the group has provided her with a support system and a lot of good business advice.
She has also found a friend in artist Theresa Cress, who crafts miniatures out of glass.
“I met her one year at Comfest and thought she was my arts brain twin,” Neiwirth says.
Do you know of, have, or work in a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, contact Anne Evans.