100 Creatives 2012: Adriana Soto, Jewelry Designer and Etsy.com Entrepreneur
El Paso native Adriana Soto says she's always been artsy. She made her own jewelry as a hobby for several years but decided to take the plunge into full-time design after working a temp job at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's gift shop, where she saw other designers selling their handcrafted one-of-a-kind work. "When I saw other designers selling their work, I thought, 'I want to do that, too.'" She signed up for a class at the Glassell School of Art with jewelry guru Sandy Zilker. After a class or two, she went on her own. That was six years ago. Two years ago she opened up an online shop at Etsy.com and is now happily marketing her work around the world.
What she does: "I consider myself a designer first, but actually I do a lot of things. I design, I create, I market, I'm an entrepreneur. "
She also tests her designs for wearability. "I've seen a lot of jewelry that's cool, but when you put it on, it doesn't work. That's a huge part of my designs, that it looks great and that it works. If it's just one but not the other, it's no good."
Soto says the business side of the business is mostly handled by her husband, whom she calls "Mr. Formula." He figures out if a piece cost X dollars in raw materials, she has to sell it for Y dollars in order to make a profit. "Sometimes I get a little stone crazy and he'll say, 'Hey, it doesn't seem like you're following the formula.' And I'm like, 'Crap!' I try to play the crazy artist, but he's like, 'Nah!'" she laughs.
While Soto's designs sell on Etsy daily, she maintains strict adherence to the cost-vs.-profit formula she's worked out with her husband. Not only does it keep prices low for her customers, she finds it forces her to be creative. It's easy to buy a great stone and make a beautiful piece, she says. "Being on a budget, I have to rely on my design to make a beautiful piece, not just the expensive materials."
Why she likes it: "It's still exciting when somebody buys a piece of my jewelry."
Soto says she likes the freedom to design according to her own tastes. "I've tried to do collections, but it doesn't work that way for me. I do things that are trendy sometimes, but what sells the most are things that you invent. Actually, I create what I like to wear."
What inspires her: "Music inspires me, so does nature," she says. But her work is not directly related to what she hears or sees. Seeing a shell doesn't lead her to producing shell-shaped earrings, for example. The inspiration gets her creative juices flowing and ideas for new pieces follow. "I get flashes of insights. When I get a flash, it sticks with me, and I can't get rid of it until I make it."
If not this, then what: "If I wasn't doing this, I'd probably be a makeup artist. I dabbled in that before." She finds a lot of similarity in the work since both jewelry designers and makeup artists deal with colors, shapes and textures.
If not here, then where: "Canada," she answers without hesitation. "My work sells really well there; I'm not sure why, but it does and so I think maybe I'd like to go there. The Canadians love me."
What's next: Soto plans to continue to expand her Etsy shop, adding new designs daily. She just finished creating new work for a trade catalogue. "It's called Geranium Jewelry. They sell jewelry by different designers, all of it handmade."
And she's already getting ready for the Christmas season. "Actually, I'm always getting ready for Christmas."
More Creatives for 2012
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist
Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof
Patrick Turk, visual artist
Elizabeth Keel, playwright
Bob Martin, designer
Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer
Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer
Jeremy Wells, painter
George Brock, theater teacher
Radu Runcanu, painter
Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media
Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker
Philip Hayes, actor
Patrick Palmer, painter
Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer
John Tyson, actor
Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker
Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer
Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music
Laura Burlton, photographer
David Peck, fashion designer
Rebecca Udden, theater director
Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer
Paul Fredric, author
John Sparagana, photographer
Damon Smith, musician and visual artist
Geoff Winningham, photographer
Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist
Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor
Katya Horner, photographer
Johnathan Felton, artist
Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer
Carol Simmons, hair stylist
Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet
Greg Carter, director
Kenn McLaughlin, theater director
Justin Whitney, musician
Antone Pham, tattoo artist
Susie Silbert, crafts
Lauralee Capelo, hair designer
Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer
Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ
ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer
Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director
J.J. Johnston, theater director
Mary Margaret Hansen, artist
Richard Tallent, photographer
Viswa Subbaraman, opera director
Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist
Sonja Roesch, gallery owner
Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor
Sandy Ewen, musician
Camella Clements, puppeteer
Wade Wilson, gallery owner
Magid Salmi, photographer
Carl Williams, playwright