Friday Interview: Devienna Anggraini! April 29, 2011 13:49

Happy Friday, everyone! Today's interview is the latest installment in our organizers edition! Let me introduce you to Devienna, one of our awesome managers, and the talented force behind the colorful jewelry line, DAMetals. Read on to learn a little bit about the Craftland team, and also get some great business advice. Take it away, Devienna!  

Please introduce yourself and tell us how you first became involved in Craftland and what your role is now.
Hello! I'm Devienna Anggraini. Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. I moved to the US in 1997 for college and moved to Providence  to attend RISD in 2004. My first involvement with Craftland was when I was hired as a store manager for (at the time) seasonal Craftland in 2006. That year we occupied the space on Eddy Street, across the street from Big Nazo. Starting that year I joined the sparkly-oh-so-wonderful organizer team. I think I earned my "Princess of Power" title awhile back because I was the one in charge of printing thousands of  super-precious barcode labels for seasonal Craftland Shows. I made our artists obey deadlines and bribe me
if they were late; Coffee, candy bar, or baby sitting were accepted as bribes. Also, I was preggo TWICE for Craftland Show 2006 and 2008, so I got to boss people around a lot - good times! Nowadays, I am one of the inventory/curator team members of Craftland. I also work at the shop two days a week and sign a lot of checks.. yes!

Please tell us a little bit about DAmetals and the jewelry that you make.

In 2007, I started the jewelry line when my first born, Kevin, was a young babe. I mostly work with sterling silver and industrial enamel, which is baked-to-cure resin, to add color to my jewelry. I also use white bronze and gold vermeil in some of my designs. I started selling them at Art/Craft Shows around New England. In 2008, we started selling our work at wholesale by going to some Wholesale/Trade Shows. The designs we make are inspired by simple shapes and seductive color combinations. Our goal is to provide affordable, sustainable, modern jewelry for people to wear. I want others to feel pretty, stylish, and comfortable when they are wearing my work.

Describe your studio for us.
We are lucky enough to have a finished spacious basement where we have our studio. We have a soldering table, clean up (sanding/texturing) table that has a flex shaft like what the dentist use to mend your teeth, enameling table, a sorting/packaging area. I mostly work by myself or with my wonderful hubby, Gary. Then the working (read: messy) areas continue upstairs, on our dining table, and currently, also on a gigantic table in our kitchen.. ah.. you get the idea.

What does handmade mean to you?
Well, handmade means made by hands, not by machines. There are a lot of things we use everyday that is made by hand, even some mass-produced items are hand-made. However, my favorite kind of handmade is the one that is made by the designers. It is not mass-produced but made with individual attention and care. It is not knocking off other people's design and is higher in quality compared to mass-produced items. It is also made with higher quality materials, often re-purposed, while aiming on the least amount of waste possible. There will be no recall for lead paint content in toys or candles that may produce random sparks that will burn down your wonderful outdoor picnic. So, it is not only about "made-by-hand", but really, it is about good designs, using the best materials, responsibly well made, and safe.  It means quality and exclusivity. It means responsibly produced with great respect to the user/consumer, other designers, and to Earth.

What do you do when you need some inspiration for new products?
I do research on what is out there in terms of popular styles and color. I doodle and do some sketching, but think I mostly get inspired by playing on the soldering table and reassembling different shapes and units.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to take their art from hobby to business?
First and foremost: Don't get in debt! Keep that supporting job (or supporting family :)) of yours, for the first, at least, 5 years. It is not fair for the business if you expect it to start paying your bills right away, and you will find out that credit card debt would not go away by itself. If you are lucky, and smart, you should be able to break even and claim a bit of profit by the end of your first or second year. One of the best advice my financial advisor husband gave me when i just started was to apply to as many craft shows before I even start making the products. When you are an artist and a maker, the making process is the easiest part. Finding ways to sell and market your work is the not so easy part of the process, yet it is KEY to creating a SUSTAINABLE business. If business plans and numbers are not your strength, then I highly recommend becoming friends with a person who has business talent. This person should be able to help you evaluate your budgets and plans going forward. That means breaking down your numbers to help you set realistic, yet optimistic, goals. It is important for the business' growth that you set goals every year, and use the business plan as guidance when you need to make your decisions as a business. Should I do this or that show, or should I buy this new tool i have been wanting all month? Oh wait, I am over budget on my tools/supplies budget, and I am over budget with my travels. So, maybe I should do the show that is close to home, and keep that awesome multi-angle jig cutter in my wish list for next year. You should be reviewing your business plans at least once or twice a year. I can go on and on, but really, most creative based businesses died because of poor financial management and budgeting. So, if you are planning to have this business long term, get on it! Find a business savvy friend, take him/her out to dinner, and really listen to what he/she has to say. Offer him/her a trade with your hand-printed napkins, baby sitting, or a year supply of cupcakes for some advising sessions. Oh, fyi, if you ever hire an accountant to help you with your budget, and she put down $700 for accounting services in your budget, then charge you $1000 for your first 2 meetings, get out of there as quick as possible! It is also important that you tie your business finances back to your personal finances. What your life style is like, and how much you need to live on, and start saving for your long term goals. Did I just talk you all out of having your own business? That's OK. It's no easy life.. but it is highly rewarding.

What is it about Providence that makes this a city where Craftland can thrive?
What can be a better place for Craftland than The Creative Capitol? I think the fact that we are located close to Boston and New York, with more affordable living situations, has made Providence the perfect mecca for a lot of artists and art-related professionals. The big colleges in the area help Providence with keeping educated and interested people in this wonderful and hip little city. Besides RISD, there are a lot of other really good art colleges like Mass College of Art, UMass Dartmouth, and School of Museum of Fine Arts not too far away from here. That means, we can never run out of artists!

What are some of your favorite tools for getting the word out about your handmade business?
I am not very good with my internet presence right now. I do not have a blog and I do not tweet. I just simply do not have time for it right now. That is also the reason that my etsy store is super duper neglected since I signed up. So, I mostly market my work through the retail and wholesale shows that I do. I also directly contact store buyers by sending them postcards, catalogs and samples periodically.

Guilty pleasure?
Oh, man, I knew this was coming. Um.. Fried Chicken. Yes.. I love that greasy fatty stuff that makes you feel so sick right after you eat your last bite. Yup, now you all know. Great, I think I'm going to have some for dinner now. Thanks for asking.