Are the local Businesses dead? Our interview with Amy Ragsdale from AmyRagsdale.com
Globalization has had great effect on how economies work, which have led to rapid advancements and provided a base for consumer societies. But, it has also taken away from the unique nature of things. Although, it is great that you can get a useful product at half the price, but still it means the death of the local artists, who find themselves out priced despite their genuine and unique work.
So, we reached out to Amy Ragsdale from amyragsdale.com, who has seen it all and believes that local businesses have a lot to offer and can definitely work towards empowering the community.
First of all, please accept our felicitations on promoting a setup which takes us away from the big corporations and into the locality. We believe that many people can benefit from your insight.
You are welcome. I appreciate any work being done to help folks understand the power of community.
So, when did you know that you wanted to be a jewelry designer?
More than wanting to be a jewelry designer, I wanted to be my own boss. The career of a designing fell into my lap when I moved to Maine in 1984, with two young children, I started working as a salesperson in a fine crafts gallery in a sea side resort town. When October came around the gallery closed down but the owners offered me a job through the winter if I learned to polish and solder jewelry. Although I had failed a jewelry making course at my local collage years earlier, I jumped at the opportunity.
How did you set yourself up? Did you have any difficulties in competing with the giants?
My studio has almost always been in my home. That worked best since my youngest were six months old when I started. The intention was never to compete with the giants, but to make designs that offered clients a departure from the mass produced, ‘luxury’ brands that were so popular. It has always been easy to appeal to the clients desire to express their individuality, especially women coming into their own. Corporations are run by economics, therefor most all make their product in factories in China or Cambodia with constant human rights violations being found out. When you educate your customer, they make healthier choices.
Who was your favorite customer? Why?
During an event at a gallery in Alberta Canada a woman showed interest in a pendant called the ‘echo’. I explained that it was designed to remind the wearer that what you send out will eventually come back. As I stood behind her to clasp the chain I noticed she was starting to weep. She had a physical/emotional reaction to the pendant and what is symbolized, and said she wasn’t going to take it off. The best part is, my 18 year old son was standing in the room when this all happened and witnessed it. Priceless.
How do you cope with working on a single piece, giving it your all and knowing that it will not come back to you?
My acknowledgment is quite the opposite. I work on a single piece, wondering what the person who will be wearing it is like. Who will resonate with this? Who will find comfort or encouragement from this design? Also, I find that the way the jewelry unfold isn’t like ‘giving it my all’. It is much more like letting the inspiration flow through my hands. Corny perhaps, but very genuine.
Lastly, there are many other local businesses vying for survival. What would be your shout out to them? Do you have any advice to offer?
Collaborate, Be Generous & Meditate. Work with other businesses in your community to create a buzz. Have events. Be generous with your time and your talent. Meditate to let things go and let things come. If you are not enjoying your work, move onto something else.