Each month Yelp Austin selects an Austin made maker (#AustinMade) to feature and go behind the scenes with, the purpose being to help shine a spotlight on artisans, creators, and all-around-badasses around our city. This month we introduce you to Melissa Chapman of Stone+Smith.
What was the moment you knew your brand had to happen?
Stone + Smith was born in the quiet corners of the 2008 recession when, exhausted from long hours working at a non-profit, I would come home and make jewelry in my living room. The kind of satisfaction I felt from making an actual thing, as opposed to driving an idea, is what made me realize it had to happen. At the time, it was named "2224 designs" and consisted of my selling things at Saturday markets and to friends.
It's hard to believe that was seven YEARS ago!
What obstacles did you run into during the creation of your brand?
Oh, besides everything? The biggest challenge was maintaining a day job for the first 4 years. And taxes. And staying diligent with all of the day-to-day production work that it takes to keep up with the ideas in your head. Working out of my car. Post office runs. Oh, and taxes.
What has surprised you the most thus far?
How endless the design ideas are.
If you could go back, what advice would you give to you when all this was getting going?
There is so much pressure to go fast, move quicker, make more, etc. I still struggle with slowing down, perfecting every detail, and waiting until it feels right to release things into the world. That's the advice I would give myself then and now.
When did you finally feel like you "made it"?
When I quit my job, bought a car, and moved my business to Texas. Because I could! It was the best feeling.
Oh, and when Mom joined the team last summer. It forced me to get ideas out of my head and onto endless google docs and spreadsheets. We started having a plan, check-ins, and external accountability.
It made it feel so real!
Who or what inspires you on a daily basis?
Services and businesses built with the end user in mind. There is such a difference between brands that pay attention to their audience and those that operate without paying attention to that.
How do you respond to failure, and what major failure has come your way that you've learned and bounced back from?
PR, pricing and social media are tough. Remember when MCA, of the Beastie Boys died? Well, I had a brass monkey necklace in the shop at the time and immediately posted a discount code "in his honor." It came from the best of intentions, really!, but that doesn't matter when your audience sees you trying to make a buck off other's pain and suffering. *Face palm*
Any projects or partnerships in the works that you can discuss?
Absolutely! We are launching our fall line, August 2015. We just released our first hand casted piece into the collection and plan to do more of that in the future.
Want more? Follow Stone + Smith on Instagram and Twitter.
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