Jewelry artist Lisa Pauling puts love into every piece of hand-stamped jewelry she designs for her Be You Jewelry line. The 36-year-old Phoenix resident had more than 15 years of retail experience before deciding to start her own business this summer, and now she shows at artisan markets around the state, including Pineapple Triangle, and her wares are available at local shops Bunky Boutique, MADE Art Boutique, Practical Art, and Clothes Minded, in addition to her online store. She also creates exclusive designs for nonprofit organizations and hopes to open her own store someday.
Pauling talked about her jewelry-making process and why she’s so passionate about local businesses. You can also watch a video of her naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, and meet her in person Friday, December 26 through Sunday, December 28 at the Scottsdale Artisan Market — find more info here.
What brought you to Arizona?
I’m from a small town of 280 people called Storden in Minnesota. I didn’t go to college right out of high school. I was working full-time, and my brother was living here, and I was like, “You know what, it’s time.” I moved down here on a whim when I was 23 and started going to school and worked retail while I was doing that. I was a jewelry distributor for (jewelry line) Chloe + Isabel, and everyone would always ask me if the products were mine. I decided to start making my own jewelry, and I stayed here because of the weather.
How did your evolution as a jewelry designer come about?
I went to Tempe Festival of the Arts the first year I was down here and absolutely fell in love with the atmosphere. Coming from a small town, I didn’t see a lot of that. I became inspired by a metalsmith artist who did hand-stamped jewelry. I’d always wanted sell my own jewelry and open up my own store, and I had been in retail for more than 15 years and just kind of flew into jewelry distributing. I wasn’t loving it. I liked that it was the concept of what I wanted to be doing, but I wanted it to be my own.
I showed some of my jewelry I was distributing in Camp Verde, and I was driving down and stopped in Prescott in a little jewelry store off to the side. I went in to check it out and bought my startup kit. It sat in a bag for two weeks before I even got a chance to look at it and play with it and think if I could even do it. I finally started stamping at the end of 2012.
I was already doing jewelry and events such as women’s expos, so I already knew what I needed to do. I had been doing that for almost a year, and it got me to my passion, which is huge for me. I started doing the Gilbert Art Walk, which is every first and third Saturday of the month. I brought my Chole + Isabel stuff for half the table, and I used the other half of the table for my stuff. My stuff blew it away.
I continued to do other events and finally took Chloe + Isabel off the table. I do Scottsdale Artisan Market, which is a phenomenal market, every Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. I bring all of my stuff with me to every show and do custom products right then and there.
What are your partnerships with nonprofits like?
I do a lot of work with nonprofits. They give me inspiration for what they want to do, and I come up with a design for them, and I will not make that necklace for anybody else. I make a necklace for Ophelia’s Place in New York, which gives resources to those with eating disorders, that says, “I am enough.” If someone wants that necklace, I send them to Ophelia’s website, and they purchase it through them.
I did another necklace for Wigged Out, which provides wigs to those with hair loss because of a medical condition, that says, “Love yourself.” I’ll sell it on my table, but 20 percent of the proceeds go back to them.
How do you make your pieces?
There’s a metal rod with an imprint of something on it, and you put it on an anvil, or steel block, and take a piece of metal and hammer whatever is on the end of that stamp into your metal jewelry. Everything is done by hand and individually. If it’s a word, everything is stamped out per letter.
It’s definitely time-consuming. Some stamps stamp harder than others. Every stamp is different. Each metal you’re stamping in is different. My tagline is, “Imperfectly perfect.” A lot of that comes from the way I like things and the way I design things, but a lot of it is the precision it takes to make everything perfect. With the stamps, it’s almost impossible by doing it by hand.
I use sterling silver, gold filled, copper and rose gold materials. I buy local materials, and from there, I decide designs and shapes for the metals. I do really well with an Arizona state-shaped necklace and make other states, as well. I really stay true to simple, classic, everyday designs that are wearable for anyone.
What are your goals?
I’d like to open my own storefront. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I know I will do it. It’s just the right time and the right location need to fall together at the same time. I just want to enjoy what I’m doing every day.
Why are you passionate about supporting local businesses?
If you can contribute to a dream and a community maybe you’re not a part of, but someone else is, I think that’s a big deal. It’s so important, and one of the reasons why I love living in Phoenix is that the local movement is here now, and we get to see that.
Why would you encourage people to check out your jewelry line?
The price is amazing. There is love put behind everything, and it’s all handmade. You’ll be wearing a piece you can feel good about.
What advice do you have for aspiring jewelry artists and business owners?
When opening your own business, something a lot of people tend to forget is that it’s not the art only. It’s marketing, finances and promoting. You may not be good at all the business things, and that’s OK. I tell people to not feel like they have to be great at everything in their businesses. You need to find people who can help you and support you.
Also, your personal social media outlets have nothing to do with how you work your business social media, which is very important.
Learn more about Pineapple Triangle founder Maggie McGrath here on Phoenix People.