Craftland is excited to start our artist interviews with one of our newest additions, Ashley Procopio!
When did you start creating jewelry, and what is your background?
During undergrad I worked a part-time job at a small business, an American Craft Gallery and Bead Shop. Being there I learned how to make jewelry and developed an appreciation for art and thinking outside the box. I relocated to Boston in 2007 and I started taking random adult ed classes to learn new things and meet people. One of the classes I took was a metal smithing course at the Brookline Arts Center. So that class is my only “formal” training. Everything else I’ve learned by doing.
I do have my Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Marketing but ended up in the corporate America grind doing insurance billing and was really unhappy. In 2015 I built a studio and started playing around. I left my office job October 2015 to purse jewelry design/metal smithing full-time.
How does your background influence how you run your jewelry company?
My Marketing degree has definitely come in handy. A lot of what I learned in class I’ve been able to apply to my business. And surprisingly, my background in Insurance Billing has helped me navigate the financial end.
How was your childhood, did you always enjoy creating and making things?
I always wanted to be creative but wasn’t quite sure how to express it. My brother has always been an amazing illustrator which made me envious growing up. I’ve just learned over the years that I express my creativity differently than him. When I was younger I did dance (primarily ballet) which was really my element. And then when I got into college, I discovered jewelry.
What inspired your designs, and what is your creative process like?
Getting dressed is my biggest inspiration. Picking out an outfit is the highlight of my day. When I chose clothes I’m always thinking about what jewelry would be the perfect compliment.
Any advice for anyone else who is also interested in starting their own creative career?
Do one thing a day. If you want to make the shift to be self-employed, just do one thing a day. I read that somewhere when I was starting and it kept me focused. The idea of starting a business is so daunting. Where do you start? But one thing a day is manageable.
It could be anything. Do research, pick a font for a business card, sketch an idea, make a new item. Whatever. But one thing turns into five, and then ten. And then before you know it, you have a business. It’s crazy. If you tend to it everyday, it’s like a pet. You feel an attachment.
What do you find to be the most challenging and rewarding part of running your own jewelry company?
Rewards: I have a few. One, I love that everyday is different. I really enjoy the freedom of my days. I have a list of work that needs to get done but I can choose when it gets done. It’s liberating. Second, connecting with people. I meet new people every week and it’s one of my favorite parts. Third, being able to create and work with my hands.
Challenging: You have to be quick on your feet and not get discouraged. What worked last year might not work this year. You constantly have be thinking ‘how can I make this better”. It can be fun but also stressful.
Is there any other materials or elements that you are interested in experimenting with in the future?
I’ve started to mix in some brass and I’m toying with the idea of incorporating some gold into the collection. I also plan to do occasion jewelry (engagement rings & wedding bands) in the near future.
What is your goal for the future of your jewelry company/career?
To always keep it small and intimate.