Hi, my name is Caitlin and I'm the artist behind Aguja y Clavo Jewelry (AyC for short).
I love everything about jewelry and always have. I wasn't a particularly 'girly girl' as a child, but I did have a thing for beads, adornment, shiny things, and anything that said large and in charge. When my grandmother came to live with us when I was 5 years old, she came with a trunk full of flowery dresses and jewelry of all types (gold, silver, and costume) and I'd play with her jewelry almost every morning when she'd get ready. It was like having a human doll come to life while also being my crash course into the world of adornment.
I studied architecture in college, hated it, moved to Spain for three years, started dating my now husband the last three months I was living there, fell in love, moved back to New Mexico, worked construction with/for my dad, realized it wasn't my calling (due to the customers being super demanding), saved my money, started taking classes in metalsmithing, felt like I had found my calling, decided to try making jewelry for a living for one year to see how it would go, applied for the marriage visa to have my husband move out to NM, sold all of my work to one woman at the end of the year which felt like a sign to keep going, and finally my husband's visa was approved and he moved out. He arrived on a Tuesday and we got married in my parent's kitchen that Sunday.
Our love story and the beginning of this business are very much intertwined, and with good reason. I fell in love with myself in Spain after feeling very disconnected and confused from architecture/college, then met him and he accepted me totally and completely for who I am, and then I finally found the thing that brings me joy in my work life. I had moved back from Spain and we were still texting and I sent him a photo of my painting and a photo of my jewelry and asked him which one I should pursue if I were to turn it into a business. He told me to do jewelry (which is what I was hoping he'd say) and then I started to see if I could actually do it.
I looked for classes locally, abroad, and then went for it. I tried everything I could with jewelry from techniques to materials to designing to selling in markets, selling in galleries, you name it. I wanted to see what I liked the most and said yes to everything.
I was a bit all over the place until 2020. I had my work in galleries, I was selling online, I was taking on commissions, I had just returned from a trip to Florence, Italy where I had studied with a master jeweler, and I felt kind of like I was spread thin creatively. I had a few side jobs, one in social media and another as a jewelry teacher at my local community college and obviously 2020 shut all of that down.
I had to do some major reevaluating because I was peaking with burnout and stress. It took me almost all of 2020 and 2021 to find the path I am currently on. I had some health issues as well which forced me to get out and do more exercise and I began running 3 miles everyday. Those runs became essential to clearing my mind and giving me the time to not just get my health back on track, but to also give me more clarity and direction with this business.
I decided on choosing just a few things to focus all of my energy on: becoming an online-only business and only making statement earrings. It's like the simplest business model out there and I love it. I'm 1000% happier doing this and not placing my energy on ten other things at once.
But I still felt like I hadn't truly found my path with jewelry. There are so many techniques with jewelry and yet none of them really held my attention beyond maybe one collection. I also started to miss oil painting which I hadn't done in 14 years.
And bam, that's when I began incorporating miniature oil painting with my statement earrings. This is not the traditional path with jewelry so I had to do a ton of research to learn about paint quality, finding the perfect wood panel, searching for a good resin to preserve my work and then how to come up with something original. It's not the traditional path, but it is proudly my path and I am loving this path more and more each day.
Now to add/finish out this story is that in the Spring of last year, I became a mother to my baby girl. I absolutely adore her and have thoroughly enjoyed being a mother. She makes me laugh with her rascally-ness and has given me even more purpose to pursue this work. I want to show her that her mother is happy and loving when she is creating and likes to make BIG LOUD STATEMENT pieces. The last collection I put out was a challenge to get myself back into the studio with her by my side. It was monumentally difficult and a much slower process than before, but that's ok. Baby steps.
Writing Prompt No. 2
Share with me/us/your audience an intro about yourself. Most of us write about how we were first introduced to our crafts, but rarely do we talk about why we fell in love with the materials and/or techniques we're using. I want to know about how you got to your now.
I wrote this post in a different way. Normally, I write to attract my social media audience to my blog, but for this one I wanted an intro post as if someone had discovered me through my blog. Imagine someone comes to your page, wants to know more about you and they haven't seen anything you've done on Instagram.
How does this differ from your About page? It's much less formal and written in the way that feels most natural to you. But maybe you have an informal About page, that's great. But you know how on Instagram, we do an intro post every so often? That's what this, but in blog format.
As always, you can use the same title I've used for your blog post, email newsletter, or caption for social media. This content is designed to encourage 'community over competition' and I'd love to read your response to these prompts. You can send me a link or forward me your email newsletter to my email, email@example.com. I will share my favorites on IG stories and/or right here on my website.
Thanks so much. The next prompt will be posted on January 26th.
Stay tuned and stay well,