Ready. Set. Go. 10/20/40/400!
When I look out at the sign on my studio, it says Cape Ann Designs EST. 2002, but that’s just because my mother had the sign made for me and her lucky number was “22.” Cape Ann Designs was actually founded in 2003 under the original name “Beach Glass Barrettes.” Not long after that, the founders of the first Sea Glass Festival knocked on my door and participating in that show in 2004 was the first time I showed my work and met Carole Lambert, author of the Sea Glass Chronicles. What Carole didn’t realize at the time is that she started a movement. Since the publication of her book and Rockport’s tiny, but well attended “shard fest” – sea glass has had its own momentum and brought people together all around the world.
For me as well, it’s been a wild ride. In 2023, I am embracing many significant milestones – two personal ones – 10 years on the Cape Ann Artisans Tour and 20 as a maker while being part of the larger communities – that of the Artisans which is celebrating its 40th and the City of Gloucester which is celebrating its 400th! Wow, that’s a lot of bubbly!
As I pause and reflect, it’s good to revisit my goals for beginning this venture. First and foremost, I need
ed to recharge the creative side of my brain. My years of working in the corporate field had forced me to rely on others for that…. but I had many roots to nurture. Secondly, I did, in fact, want to make this a separate business, all on its own. I truly didn’t need any more hobbies (which I define as things no one would ever pay me to do, e.g. golf, tennis, kayaking, and simply collecting sea glass.) I also knew I wanted to make something functional, beautiful, indigenous to Cape Ann, and in a niche that would have its own following. All in all, I do believe I have achieved these things.
Before I ever started selling, I also spoke with retailers and galleries and learned a few things that concerned me. One is that there were many makers who had “come and gone” leaving them in a precarious position. This was especially true for hair accessories, a long-forgotten niche of jewelry. My other goal was to stay with it and not disappoint people. Furthermore, I wanted to be sure people thought of sea glass designs regardless of geography or time of year. That’s an ongoing goal as I continue to evolve the designs and move the work beyond the north shore. But now for the fun part. The numbers tell a story of their own. Since I started tracking items sold in 2003 (to the extent that I could – wholesale being a bit tricky) – here are some (not all) fun proof points of what’s sold:
- 667 Barrettes (across 3 sizes)
- 555 Alligator Clips
- 208 Hair Combs
- 132 Hair Forks
- 303 Bracelets
- 269 Pairs of Earrings
Now that’s a lot of sea glass! More importantly, however, have been the hundreds of amazing people that have endorsed my work, are wearing it, provide endless feedback and encouragement, and keep coming back for more. This part of the journey is the most exciting, unexpected, and appreciated. It’s all I need to be inspired to bring you the next wave of designs and find new ways to use my collection. Thank you for being part of my journey! Here’s to 2023.