Welcome to “Meet a Maker” by CreativeIncome! We love makers of all kinds, and this series puts a spotlight on crafters who are making a living selling their handmade creations. Whether it’s craft fair advice, how to start an Etsy shop, or even customer service tips, we’re going straight to the experts in this series. Enjoy!
We had the pleasure of meeting Theresa Wangia, creator of Beltshazzar Jewels, at the Randolph St. Market in Chicago. Theresa’s attended craft fairs all over the United States and her creations are so unique, plus her story is just as special! Check out Beltshazzar Jewels online for more info and check out her shop here.
Meet a Maker: Beltshazzar Jewels
CREATIVE INCOME: Let’s start with the basics, when did you start to craft and where do you find inspiration?
THERESA WANGIA: I started making jewelry for myself and friends back when I was modeling abroad. While living in London, I apprenticed under a jewelry designer and picked up lots of tools of the trade. Oh yeah, and I fell in love with raw natural stones!
CI: Your materials are primarily leather — why do you choose to work with that specific material?
TW: Leather work runs in my family. My Great-Grandfather had a cobbler shop and made 15 pairs of Buffalo Bill’s infamous boots! I have always treasured my lineage and feel that leather work is part of my DNA.
CI: What has been the most challenging part of having your own craft booth? Did you experience any missteps when you first started selling at craft fairs?
TW: The most difficult part is the upfront cost and the anxiety of not knowing how the event will go. You just have to get out there and make it happen. Just do it!
CI: You’ve sold your jewelry and accessories all over the country, what’s your favorite craft fair? What made it memorable?
TW: My favorite craft fair is definitely the Randolph Street Market! My Dad’s from Chicago and being from St. Louis means I have to drive 5 hours to and from. However, being in Chicago feels like home to me and the Randolph Street Market has been just that — home! It has allowed me to grow as an artist and to meet so many other great wonderful artists along the way! I just participated in the Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and that was truly a great experience to be settled amongst all the really high-end fine artists. It made me feel like a small fish in a big pond. I think, as artists, we need the challenge of what’s around the next bend or what’s happening in a city near you! Go out there and do something BIG! Afropunk in NYC was super exciting as well! But, I have to stay true to what has always been there for me and that is the Randolph Street Market!
CI: What is your advice for new crafters looking to get into craft shows and/or selling at boutiques?
TW: My advice to new crafters is to use your resources. Get online and research shows, costs, and how to set up your space. Having a booth that is inviting and somehow tells the story of your work really excites people. Customers want to know about you and your craft! Tell them your story! I have a storyboard up in my booth that has some really old pictures of my Great-Grandfather in his cobbler shop alongside other pics of other family members who’ve made things with their hands. Of course, there’s a pic of Buffalo Bill in his infamous boots! I even have an heirloom piece hanging on my storyboard: one of my Great-Uncle’s Bolo ties that he made with a Jasper stone that he found himself! I really cherish those memories and maybe one day down the line, my family will honor my work in the same way! Ain’t life grand?!
Make sure to check out more of Theresa’s work at Beltshazzar Jewels.com.
What’s your favorite craft fair?