Shopping small and local as much as possible is very important to me. When I started seriously making chainmaille, I decided to buy my supplies from a family-owned shop I came across on Etsy. I loved that my money was going toward supporting a fellow small business. Because I was new to making jewelry and metal is expensive, I started making silver plated jewelry. The materials were high quality, and after awhile I felt a sense of loyalty to the supplier.
In my personal life, I have become increasingly conscious about the impact I am having on the environment. I have made it my personal mission to buy as many of my clothes as well as those for my infant daughter from local thrift shops. I make an effort to buy produce and meat from local producers who value sustainability, and Freecycle has become my new best friend. I often feel guilty buying things brand new (unless it’s handmade).
Sometime last year, I started to feel that my business didn’t fully align with my personal ethics. For one, I didn’t like that I was using brand new materials, whether it be the rings I was using to make my chainmaille or the beads I was using to embellish them. Second, at some point I realized that the silver plating was coming off the pieces I had made for myself. I later learned that is what happens to silver plating, and by no means was it a reflection quality of the products I had been sold. More than anything it was naiveté on my end.
But I was disappointed nonetheless. I wanted to make a long-lasting product that my customers could wear for years and years, and I started to realize that was not necessarily the case with my jewelry. I was always clear what materials I used to make my jewelry, but somehow I couldn’t help but feeling like I was somehow lying to my customers. I also felt that the materials I was using should be aligned with what was important to me in my personal life.
It left me with an icky feeling that I would try to ignore but would often leave me anxious. I knew something had to change.
At the beginning of this year, I decided moving forward I would buy materials made from recycled sterling silver made in the US. No more agonizing about my pieces not lasting as long as I wanted them to or that I wasn’t honoring what was important to me. I also have decided that I am done buying brand-new beads. While my line has naturally has been moving more toward metalsmithing and less beading, any “new” beads I buy moving forward will be vintage or from repurposed jewelry.
My personal ideals and business practices are still not 100% aligned, but every day I am working to make sure they are moving in that direction. It is leaving me feeling much more confident in my business knowing that I am being true to personal ethics.
Meet Bev of Linkcouture
Bev Feldman is a planner gone rogue. After leaving her job in the human services in late 2011 to travel around South America with her husband, she decided to focus on her creative side and be a full-time jewelry artist and blogger at Linkouture. When she’s not working on her business, she enjoys potlucks with her friends, buying local goodies at farmers markets and craft shows, and traveling to new as well as familiar places.
Have you ever been faced with a conflict between your personal and business ethics? How did/are you working to align them?