Today we're doing an update on Donna Gingrasso, an independent jewelry artisan who operates an Etsy shop called Felix Culpa Artisans, where she sells her handmade jewelry and other items made by other members of her team.
We did a piece on Donna a while ago, but she let us know a few things had changed, and we thought it would be a good idea to get you up to speed on her latest news, work, and links. She's a great fellow bead ENTHUSIAST and always has a kind word to say about interesting and unusual new beads and finds.
As a quick recap, Donna got involved in this business over 35 years ago. It began with her desire to find jewelry long enough to suit her. "Necklaces with thin, short chains just didn't "cut it", she says. The only solution she could see was to make it herself. She began selling where she worked, at a marketing firm in Milwaukee, WI, and was soon asked to make jewelry for an airline seat-pocket magazine, from which her little business began to blossom.
She lives and works now in Sacramento, CA. She has had an online store since 2010. When deciding on a name for the business, Donna's friend and former partner Malene asked Donna if she knew what the meaning of "Felix Culpa" was. Donna said she didn't. So Malene told her it meant "Having gone through much pain and coming out the other side happy". They both knew immediately that was it, since they had both dealt with serious health issues and SURVIVED. Donna has had over 10 operations, but as she says, "That isn't going to stop me!"
Donna's favte thing about the business is, of course, creating her jewelry, but as anyone who operates a small business knows, that is only a small part of what needs to be done. She loves organization, and prides herself on that, and has helped others do the same. Her signature style is beads, beads and more beads! She finds design ideas in nature, and even, as she jokingly said, "in a pool of oil I saw on the floor of the car garage when my husband took the car in for repairs -- the colors were amazing!" (She later found out that there are indeed, beads called "oil slick", and of course, she had to get some of those!) Her favorite thing to use when creating her designs is COLOR. The more colors in something, the more she likes it.
What is particularly interesting about Donna is that despite her many health setbacks, she is determined to make this on-line business successful. Having done countless trade shows in the past, she now places more of her focus on the Etsy store. Her time is divided up between the creation of new pieces; helping to promote other shops as well as her own by participating in Etsy teams; and of course, taking care of her customers and sales.
Most recently she has been revising her product pictures, giving them a more professional look. On the advice of a very successful businesswoman she met on line, Donna was told that unless a customer can REALLY see the products in focus and up-close, chances are they won't buy; and Donna has come to realize that she was absolutely right. Good pictures of her products are worth their weight in gold. She also believes strongly in good content, and perfect spelling. She told us that if she is looking for something, if she clicks onto a site where she sees misspellings and poor or inadequate descriptions, she clicks right out of it. To her, being serious about one's business means they care enough to be professional in all aspects. She also says that at this time in her life, she has to concentrate on one thing at a time so she doesn't lose her focus. Because of the health issues in the past few years, she isn't able to work on the business full-time. So in the time she does have when she's feeling her best, (which is usually in the morning hours), she must stay disciplined to accomplish all of her goals for that day. She's also hoping to eventually do some traveling with her husband, Ron, who is now retired. He said he would like to see them both shoot for England again.....with Italy being at the top of their bucket list, health permitting.
Donna's advice to jewelry artisans, hands down is, "Never Give Up"! To her, determination, hard work and a positive attitude is absolutely essential. Though she is mostly self-taught, (she has taken courses including lapidary, cloisonné, and bead classes), she believes strongly in learning as much as she can from others in the business, maintaining good relationships with colleagues, and honing her skills when time and health permits. Listed below are venues where you can see the shop and work.
We're inspired by Donna's determination -- we have met several artisans struggling with health issues and/or disabilities, and their endurance and courage is amazing. See these previous blog posts to read more:
http://www.thebead.net/index.php/the-bead-blog/76-disabled-beaders-and-jewelry-designers (Disabled Beaders and Jewelry Designers)
http://www.thebead.net/index.php/the-bead-blog/142-a-charmed-life-lori-s-journey (A Charmed Life: Lori's Journey)
http://www.thebead.net/index.php/the-bead-blog/200-vernon-of-panama (Vernon of Panama)
Until Next Time,