Retail Ready with FiestyelleLeslie Yang is passionate about jewelry, eco-awareness and San Fancisco. Her jewelry line Feistyelle is yet another fantastic example that green design doesn’t have to be all brown rice and sandals, but can communicate a polished, modern aesthetic. A Ponoko regular for a number of years, Leslie was the first person to laser cut felt for jewelry. With that innovative approach to materials she has been evolving her ever-popular, wearable laser cut designs and regularly introducing new ideas.
• What made you decide to start your own business? I officially started feistyelle in the fall of 2005. At the time, I was pretty active on online crafty message boards, and some makers were starting to set up small businesses selling their work online and at shopping events. This was all pre-Etsy! It felt like the next, exciting step for me was to get my work out in front of a increasingly DIY-friendly public. I was making really different pieces during those first couple of years: brooches, hair clips, badges, out of needle felted wool and Japanese textiles.
• How did you decide on the jewelry direction? I’ve always loved jewelry, but it was actually serendipitious that I started making earrings. When I found out that Ponoko was offering to laser cut felt I about dorked out with excitement. I started by designing a dahlia brooch, and because I didn’t want to waste the felt, I threw in a smaller vector of the dahlia in remaining space. A co-worker wound up wanting to buy the brooch but when she saw the smaller pieces, she said she’d love them as earrings and asked if would I make her a pair. I said, “Sure!” and then walked to my local bead store and asked the shopkeeper sheepishly, “Um, how do you make earrings?” I poked around the bead shop and settled on the hoop design that I still use for the majority of our earring designs. When my co-worker wore the earrings to work, it started a stampede to my office of female coworkers asking for their own pair. I started to realize that I had a hit on my hands!
• What skills did you already have when you started your business and what did you have to learn? I’m a graphic designer so it was helpful to have experience in branding and packaging and of course design software. I did and still am learning about marketing, accounting, and all those very necessary business skills.
The important takeaway here is that you should know how to do everything but you should definitely not do every single thing yourself! I love the extra time I get by having a photographer shoot my product and model shots as well as a person handle online order fulfillment.More from Leslie after the jump: