Interviews Jewelry Design

Jewelry Designer Teri McCartney Turns Unworn Jewelry Into Pieces Her Clients Never Want to Take Off

Headshot of Jewelry Designer Teri McCartney

Jewelry Designer Teri McCartney creates one-of-a-kind jewelry and gifts using curated components. She turned her jewelry making hobby into a business after dipping her toes in the water at a maker’s fair. In addition to creating new designs, Teri invites her customers to bring in jewelry pieces that they never wear. The designer transforms those baubles into something her clients reach for again and again. Continue reading Teri’s maker interview below.

beaded necklace and beaded earrings by jewelry designer Teri McCartney.
Courtesy of Teri McCartney.

Artisan Joy: How did you get started making jewelry?
Teri McCartney: After many years of indulging my creative side with food as a chef, I became interested in jewelry from a memory with my grandmother and a garnet necklace she would let me wear when I visited. I remember feeling so special and wearing something that carried a lot of sentimentality with it. That same feeling drives my designs—pieces that when my clients see them say ‘I have to have it.’

AJ: When did you realize that you could turn making jewelry side into a business?
TM: We took the plunge and entered a one-day event, just to see if it was possible. We nearly sold out and after that we went full on.

AJ: Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
TM: Inspiration often comes to me in the back of my mind, a thought, a color, a memory, a shape, and then I work from that to bring it to life and build it into a collection.

AJ: How do you apply that inspiration to your work?
TM: Often I sketch it out first to get all my thoughts on paper—brainstorming colors, styles and components. Then I go through our inventory and start mapping out the individual pieces. Sometimes it goes in the other direction, and I have something that speaks to me, a pendant for example. Then I work forward from there. For clients we have an option for a jewelry makeover. So often folks have that one item that sits in their jewelry box and never wear it. We consult and use that information to makeover their piece into something brand new that they finally want to wear.

A beaded necklace, black faceted beaded earrings and a silver fish bracelet by jewelry designer Teri McCartney.
Courtesy of Teri McCartney.

AJ: What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
TM: That I make an indulgent bite-size strawberry shortcake.

AJ: As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?
TM: When I start mapping out a design, and I hit that mental roadblock, I walk away. I leave the components laid out, but I deliberately change gears to let my creative brain take a break. Otherwise, I would just be rethinking the design and never complete it.

AJ: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in putting their work out into the world but feels vulnerable about it?
TM: To start small by exposing their art to others not necessarily to sell but to allow others to see it. That is the first ‘toe in the water’ maneuver. From there it’s a bit easier to move forward, whether it’s to sell or to donate—whatever they determine for their niche audience. For those that want to sell—do what we did with a small one-day fair. The more often you try something new, it will give you insight to the next step. It doesn’t mean we don’t still feel vulnerable, but it means we have the courage to go forward, baby steps at a time.

AJ: What’s a cause that you’re passionate about?
TM: One of our passions is our love of animals, and locally we support our county rescue organization. I volunteer for the spay clinics, we donate food and items to them as well.
We also have donated jewelry for personal fundraisers, such as Emily’s Light

AJ: And, of course, we have to ask you this: What brings you joy?
TM: My family, spending time with friends, spoiling our customers, living our best life!

Thanks, Teri! You can find Teri McCartney Designs at terimccartneydesigns.com.

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