We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah, why did you pursue a creative career?
The idea of an artistic career, the ability to financially support myself with it, and the embodiment of my happiness- it only continues to build upon itself, and I’m living proof that anyone can do it. None of this happened over night, by the way. I originally worked in retail jobs to support myself as I took up very basic metalsmithing techniques throughout some high school and college. I obtained my first sale in 2015 when a friend advised me to sell my handmade items on the internet. Those photos were nothing to brag about, but my lack of photography skills ultimately led my business to where it’s at today.
Metalsmithing is my favorite medium. I was able to start with inexpensive metals like copper and brass. I invested in tools that will last me decades. As a metalsmith, you will eventually realize there is a market to create and sell fun jewelry. A big reason why I stick to what I do is when I receive the gratitude from my customers. I’m able to create a unique piece of jewelry for someone, where you will not find it anywhere else in the world, and that customer either wanted it personally or requested to have it made as a gift for a very special birthday. Nine times out of ten, customers will go out of their way to tell me they loved it, or the person it was a gift for absolutely loved it. I also allow my customers to provide me feedback on my work. I allow them to leave me a review online and see me in person at my pop-up booth. It’s all very positive and contributes to my happiness, while also allowing me to grow. An artist cannot shy away from constructive criticism when running a business.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart from other artists is how scalable metalsmithing can be. There is an infinite number of combinations you can do with sizes, shapes, materials, techniques, patterns, etc. If customers want a ring, they may also want a pair of earrings or a necklace, or maybe they would like to request a custom piece. Maybe they want a gemstone they purchased elsewhere to be set into a custom ring or necklace. The big picture is allowing my customers the ability to choose all possible avenues before a sale is complete. These are the lessons I learned along the way. What combinations do people prefer? How much is too much or too less to sell my work? Is any particular method of selling actually providing me a return on my investment of time and money?
It does take time and effort to not only make an item, but to also take the necessary steps to advertise it online or stand at a booth for several hours to sell it in person. It’s not easy, but my hard work does pay off. Another component to my business is allowing my customers to return for something different. For example, I am looking to branch out into stained glass creations while tying it into metalsmithing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite spot in the Las Vegas area is located on East Fremont Street. Beginning with Fergusons Downtown, this is an area where local artists gather in person to set up their booths and sell their product. What makes it so special is how artists are given an opportunity to support each other. On scheduled market days, the alley is opened which has beautiful murals from local artists, and it provides a space for people to hang out and be a part of the community. Beyond the giant truck sculpture are local shops where you can find, art, plants, jewelry, soaps and other hand crafted creations.
Next door to Fergusons Downtown is The Vegas Test Kitchen. The food concept is constantly changing, but this is a place where local chefs try new food concepts. One day you may find sushi, but the next you will find special sourdough pizza.
There is also The Gather House which holds more local businesses and artists to shop from.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Encouragement from school instructors is where much of my story stems from. My college instructor from a drawing class suggested a metalsmithing course. To this day, I do not understand why she suggested it to me, but I have her to thank for my career path. Another college instructor cared enough to teach me metalsmithing techniques beyond the course curriculum, which led into a better outcome of my general skillset.
I also receive encouragement from my husband who shows support by attending craft shows with me. He helps me set up and tear down my booth displays. He also provides valuable feedback on how I can improve my business processes, and assists me in implementing those processes.