We were lucky to catch up with Kelly Autry recently and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, thanks for joining us today. Did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative or artistic career? When did you first know?
My favorite stores to shop in are those little old gift shops that have eclectic items from handcrafted ceramic mugs, printed tea towels, home decor, specialty teas/coffees, lots of books, poured candles, handbags and jewelry. All unique. All HANDMADE. The type of items that you can’t buy from the big box stores. You see things you didn’t know you wanted or needed, and you always find the perfect gift for someone you love. I can get lost in a store like that for hours and I think “put an espresso machine in here and I would never leave”. I would daydream that after all my kids were grown, I would open a store that sold handcrafted items with my own special touch. Then one day it hit me. Why wait? I could open my own store on-line with my own line of handcrafted items. I chose “Touch of Wonder Designs” as the company name instead of “Jewelry” because at the time I thought I would have lots of different items to choose from and for a while I did sell hand painted signs, several different craft items as well as jewelry.
As my business grew, I realized how much I LOVED making jewelry more than anything else and wanted to focus on that one art form. Soon I filtered out the other things and now I only sell jewelry.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I am the owner, designer and maker of Touch of Wonder Designs. A company that sells handmade artisan jewelry. I specialize in mixed metals, stone setting and handwoven beaded jewelry. I use traditional metal smithing & bead weaving techniques to create one-of-a-kind custom pieces for my customers.
I am also a wife of 26 years to a very supportive & loving man and proud mom to 3 fantastic kids (22,19,13). I am a coffeeholic, book lover, whole food enthusiast, positive thinker, wanna be world traveler and a really good friend.
In Jan of 2018 I took my first metalsmithing class at Harold Studio in Phoenix, Az and it changed my life. Within the first hour I knew I had found my calling. That 6-week course gave me the foundation to build my metalsmithing skills on. Since then, I have practiced everyday learning by trial and error which I think is one of the best teachers. With that, the help of YouTube and other maker’s tutorials I have acquired years of training that have given me a good grasp of the metal smithing trade. However, there is always more to learn, and I am an eager student.
I am passionate about customer service and creating a great shopping experience from start to finish. I love working one-on-one with my clients and helping them to verbalize what they visualize in their mind and then bringing that bespoke piece to life.
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
Having a job that allows me to retreat to my studio for hours on end and freely create wearable art for myself and others keeps me in a constant state of contentment.
It is my way of putting beauty out into the world. A world that feels a bit chaotic and very sad right now. Artistic expression allows me to lose myself from negative self-talk and the endless mind chatter that can easily take over.
The most rewarding moments come from seeing my customer’s eyes light up when I bring their vision to reality.
I feel better, more centered and compassionate when I create. It makes me a better wife and mother. It makes me a better person.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
I primarily sell on-line and keeping an engaged audience is probably the most challenging aspect of my business. Staying up on algorithms and the latest Instagram reels or Tik Tok trends to grow my following while trying to build my brand, fulfill orders and create new items for future collections can be quite a juggling act.
As tempting as it is to try trendy ways to gain new followers using methods like “follow for follow” or “giveaways” to see numbers climb, I decided that was not the route for me. I wanted a more organic approach which will likely grow my following at a much slower pace but, I want people who truly want to see what I have to offer and will engage and purchase from me when they are looking for something special for themselves or someone they love.
At the moment my social media following isn’t large by industry standards, yet most of my sales are driven by my posts which tells me that it does work. My goal is to stay consistent by showing up daily in some form of post, reel, or story. I know that I need to build relationships and to do that I need to show all the different sides of myself, so I do try to step out of my comfort zone sometimes and go in front of the camera to allow access to what is going on behind the scenes. I am always hoping to see my numbers grow and every new person that I see that follows me and starts to engage on my posts brings me true joy.
I regularly listen to small business marketing podcasts that give good advice on how to grow an audience. I do what I can as long as it feels true to my brand. There are (2) Jeweler’s Business Podcasts I listen to that I feel have a wealth of knowledge between the information they give from their own experiences and the guests they interview on subjects related to social media, time management, figuring out how to price goods, how to approach galleries/stores to sell products and so much more…
Thrive by Design by Tracy Matthews
The Jewellers Academy Podcast by Jessica Rose