MAKER: JENNIFER GAEWSKY
WHY DO YOU CALL AUSTIN HOME
I was born and raised in a Boston suburb. And while I do love a good snow day, I always figured I would end up somewhere a little warmer. I decided to make Austin home because of the usual suspects: sense of possibility, friendly people that seemed to be enjoying themselves, easy access to outdoor activities, and patios with string lights, and music. I’ve stayed because of all of those things but mostly because of an impossibly close group of friends… and breakfast tacos.
FAVORITE SONG/ARTIST/ALBUM FOR A SPARK OF CREATIVITY
It’s always changing, but lately, the Leon Bridges playlist on Pandora has been my go to.
BIGGEST DEBATE OF ALL: COFFEE or TEA, BE SPECIFIC ;)
I drink coffee most mornings. I try to stick to making it at home… because that small business dollar is lean folks! I use an Aero Press, and I’m pretty sure that I don’t do it the “correct” way. I also love tea! Can I claim neutrality. I home-brew kombucha. Can I choose kombucha?
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW FOR INSTAGRAM INSPIRATION
I try to limit the inspiration that I source from Instagram. I try to treat it as place where I can communicate with friends and followers. But I do love following accounts that are rich in texture and color like @pattern_curator and @eliesaabworld. I also love to cook so I follow @goop and @healthy_ish for healthy meal inspo. I have found that when I am taking care of health, I have a lot more clarity when running my business!
GO TO MID-DAY SNACK or ROUTINE FOR CREATIVE FUEL
I have a morning routine to get me ready to dive right into work. As soon as I wake up, I jump in the shower, throw on my outdoor voices leggings and a tee shirt (my uniform). I brew my coffee, and make a green smoothie. Pro-tip: prep your smoothie ingredients and freeze them in individual packs! Then I sit outside on my patio for at least 5 minutes for a small dose of vitamin D. After all that, I am ready to power through the day. If I stall out in the middle of the day, water and exercise are the best remedy. If there is no time for a workout, I will lay on the floor and put my legs up against the wall for 5 minutes. It really gets the blood flowing back to my brain!
WHERE DO YOU CREATE BEST? EX: HOME, STUDIO, NATURE, ETC.
A lot of the early conceptualization of my designs happens when I am on a walk. Then I work through these ideas in my home studio – sometimes I just work at a table in my living room. I will generally clean my entire space before beginning to explore new design ideas. And the TV is never on.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BEGIN THE BETTY ALIDA ADVENTURE
It started as a hobby that I would work on to fill my down time… all because I chose not to get cable when I moved to Austin! One day, someone complimented a piece of jewelry I was wearing, and bought it right off of me! That was when it occurred to me that it could be a source of additional income. That was four years ago. Growing the business has been a gradual but fun process and I continued to work another job for the first three years. Over time, I began reducing my work hours to dedicate more time to BETTY ALIDA, and eventually decided to leave my other job after 4 years.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT SO FAR OF BETTY ALIDA
I love when I run into someone wearing my jewelry. It makes my whole week. I also love when customers send emails or make Instagram comments telling me that they get compliments when they wear my jewelry. It puts the BIGGEST smile on my face every time.
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND STANDS OUT
I try to limit how much I pay attention to what other jewelry designers and makers are doing. It is an incredibly saturated industry and it can be easy to be influenced by the completed work of others. Instead, I look for inspiration for specific design elements in the patterns of textiles, lines in architecture, and color and texture in nature. Looking for inspiration in these places gets the design process started. As I work through different ideas, I have a series of questions that I ask myself about the specific design to help me stay focused on creating for the brand.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST CREATIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE
My parents are both engineers and it took me a long time to realize that my creative nature came from them. Creative people are really great at asking questions, hypothesizing, and testing a variety of solutions. My parents taught me how to think this way. They encouraged me as I explored a variety of interests from the middle school science team to art classes and endless crafting hobbies at home. We were always building or making something!
HOW HAS SOCIAL HELPED YOUR BRAND
Instagram has been a great place to develop relationships with stores and communicate with customers. Being able to create and maintain relationships with people all over the world is a really special thing to be able to tap into. It’s also been really wonderful to see online relationships grow into in-person relationships.
WHAT OTHER ARTISTS HAVE YOU LOVED COLLABORATING WITH, IF ANY
Diana Ascarrunz and I collaborated for a photoshoot last year. She is an incredibly talented photographer and taught me so much about how to articulate a vision when working with another creative professional on a project.
TELL US ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOPPING LOCAL ARTISTS / BRANDS
When I buy from a local artist, I like to imagine where each one of those dollars is going. Like actually take the time to imagine how that artist might spend that money. Most likely, it is getting recycled back into local businesses and your dollar goes a lot further toward directly impacting your community.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT YOUR HANDMADE PROCESS / WHY JAPANESE GLASS BEADS
Every piece of BETTY ALIDA jewelry is handmade right here in Austin. I use an off-loom beading technique that requires me to stitch each bead individually into the piece. The beads that I use are a specific type of Japanese glass bead that are uniform in shape. The beads have straight edges, rather than having rounded edges like other types of seed beads – it’s design element that I am drawn to. This type of bead also comes in a ton of colors and finishes. The variety allows me to create texture and depth in my beadwork.
HOW HAS THE AUSTIN COMMUNITY SUPPORTED YOU
There have been a handful of other business owners in the community that have taken time and care to share their knowledge and experiences with me. Whether they realize it or not, they have helped guide the growth of my business. From informing me that if I’m planning to wholesale my jewelry, it needs to be priced for wholesale. To helping me prepare for my first-ever craft show, and providing feedback to help me develop my collections. There have also been so many people here in Austin that continue to come by and say “Hi!” at any events that I do. I love being able to show them new designs that I have been working on and touch base throughout the year.
WOULD YOU BE OPEN TO A DESIGN COLLAB WITH A LOCAL AUSTIN ARTIST
Yes, of course!
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT BETTY ALIDA
I practiced as a pediatric physical therapist while I started BETTY ALIDA. Leaving therapy to work on jewelry was an incredibly difficult decision. I got so much joy from working with the kiddos and their families in therapy sessions. It’s not always easy to quit your day job. But realizing that the decision didn’t have to be permanent is a luxury that helped me decide to make the leap!
AUSTIN INSIDER RECOMMENDATIONS
MUST-SEE RECOMMENDATION(S) FOR THOSE TRAVELING TO AUSTIN
Barton Springs Pool, Deep Eddy Pool, or paddle boarding at the Texas Rowing Center!
FAVORITE LOCAL FOOD TRUCK
Happy Lobster! I’m a New Englander and lobster is life. And Happy Lobster and a really great lobster roll!
FAVORITE LOCAL CURATED BOUTIQUE
Sunroom and Kick Pleat are absolute eye candy and being in those spaces is transformative. I’m partial to Solid Gold and Limbo Jewelry, of course, because I get to work with them! But they have both have a great selection of local goods and do an enormous amount to support local makers.
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP(S)
I live across the street from Thom’s Market and I love going over there on Friday mornings to get a coffee and Tacodeli breakfast tacos – with lots of dona salsa, and chat with the awesome folks that work there!
WHERE CAN SUPPORTERS FIND YOUR DESIGNS
The best place to check out all of the available jewelry is www.bettyalida.com . If you’re local, stop in and visit the lovely people at Limbo Jewelry or Solid Gold for a curated selection that you can try on!