T.E.S.T. Interview: Calliope Kitten

We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 25th in our series with Krystyn of CalliopeKitten.

Tell us about yourself and where you get your influences from.

I was born and raised in Mississauga, and I moved to Toronto as early as I could, which was to do my undergrad degree in Psychology and Classics. My Classics background (Greek and Roman history & culture) has influenced the name of my store – Calliope is the Greek muse of epic poetry. I like to think she keeps me inspired! I love big cities, so I went to London, England to do my Master’s degree. I lived in the Shoreditch area of London, which was a real hipster hotspot at the time. I felt right at home, since I’ve been insisting on wearing neon rainbow clothing since I was a toddler. I’m not sure why that started, but I suppose in the early 90s, everyone was wearing day-glo!

Do you think Toronto has influenced your jewellery in any way?

I have been obsessed with the Toronto indie music scene for a few years now, and always felt in awe about how much international attention Toronto musicians received and how much they accomplished. Growing up I never felt Canadians got any respect or made it big, but travelling around Europe showed me differently. Seeing that Torontonians can make a name for themselves has really given me confidence to promote myself internationally, as I’ve seen firsthand that the world thinks we’re pretty cool.

What does living in Toronto mean to you, as a citizen as well as an artist?

Every time I need to shop for supplies, I am eternally thankful that I’m in a big city like Toronto. I have access to so many different shops run by amazing people. Each shop I go to has a different collection of creative people who are from so many different backgrounds, which means I get to be inspired in many directions simply by buying supplies. Living in Toronto to me means I am able to gather ideas from so many different cultures and from the varied life experiences of the people I meet.

What piece are you most proud of and what piece caused you the most amount of creative grief?

I am most proud of my selection of black mustaches with sprinkles (Blushing Sprinkle, Sunset Sprinkle, Neon Graffiti, etc.), because it was a big risk, relatively speaking, to try adding sprinkles to black resin. I wasn’t sure if they would be visible at all, and the resin I buy isn’t cheap. I just went for it, and they turned out even better than I could have hoped. None of my pieces so far has caused me much creative grief – I usually just sit down and ideas pop into my head as I go. I rarely plan ahead. If I did, I would definitely find the creative process a lot more difficult.

I find your jewellery to be whimsical, fun and youthful. Who are you creating it for? Is there a demographic in mind when you create?

At first, I was creating jewelry for myself only. I love rainbows and glitter and neon, and so that is what I made. Through tumblr, I found that teenagers (13-17) were loving my necklaces. I got reblogged by so many One Direction fans that I lost count, which was kind of embarrassing for me. I stopped being a teenager a while ago and it made me feel like my tastes are juvenile. I wanted to appeal to a greater audience, so I started to introduce darker colours into my jewelry, as in my black mustaches, or more subtle shades of neon, such as my pastel neon earrings. These lines are popular with ladies in their 20s, and I’m glad I am able to appeal to a wider audience now. At the end of the day, I don’t create anything I wouldn’t wear myself, but this may change in the future as I mature as a jewelry maker.  

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I would love to live in London again, but never permanently. I love living in Toronto, where I have so many great friends and of course, my wonderfully supportive family.  

Would you be willing to lend out your elves for a small fee?

The factory elves have signed a contract of exclusivity to work for me, but if you’d like, I can put in a good word for you with the Elf Union.

If I gave you a million dollars, which 5 Etsy stores would you raid?

MiniatureSweet - I’d buy all the molds and rhinestones!
Hairbrainedschemes – Vancouver artist with delightful prints.
MadisonStreetBeauty – Makeup that I can wear on my super sensitive skin.
ErstwhileJewelry – There’s an engagement ring on there with my name on it!!
NeonThreadsDesigns – Neon clothing, yay!

You opened your shop on March 18 of this year and you’ve already had 20 sales (congrats!). Besides your colourful and fun jewellery, to what do you attribute your success?

Well, I think the major thing is that I quit my job around the time I opened my shop. It was a rough situation and I had a lot of free time as a consequence. I decided to open my own business, but it was very slow to begin with, and I decided it was a good time to focus on my jewelry store. I spent hours and hours reading Etsy blogs, Etsy guides, product photography guides and generally scouring the internet for any guidance experience sellers could give me. So I think having the time to actually focus on my store helped a lot. I cannot forget to mention my sister, who has been the largest help. She tirelessly promotes me to her friends and her blog followers, and I have received a lot of interest from them.  

Describe your creative process for us, from the birth of an idea to the finishing touches, and what part of that process do you love and hate. 

 My process is apparently insane, according to another jewelry designer friend I have. She plans meticulously before she starts and only buys what she needs. I buy anything and everything I might be able to use! The first step of my process is sitting down in front of the massive amount of supplies I have. Then I think about what colours I am liking that day and what type of jewelry feels right to me to make. Next I either pile together a giant amount of beads for earrings or bracelets, or I snap on gloves to pour resin. Then I go to town, coming up with ideas as I go. I love being able to just shut off my brain and work with my hands, and I hate hate hate waiting 24-36 hours for my resin creations to finish setting up!

 What inspires YOU. Not just the jeweller but you Krystyn, in your everyday life.

Oh this is going to sound sappy/crazy cat lady, but my boyfriend Adam and my cats, Calliope, Professor Bill Butterscotch, and Little Jimmy, are my inspirations every day. My cats are always happy to see me, no matter what kind of trouble they’ve gotten themselves into or what kind of day I’m having. I strive to adopt this positive attitude! My boyfriend is incredibly supportive and patient with me, even when I’m being cranky or when I’m too tired to clean around the house. I couldn’t do it without these guys!  

What do you do while crafting your wares? Listen to music, watch tv, etc.

I usually watch the X Files when I work, and I’m surprised I haven’t made any neon alien jewelry yet. I also listen to podcasts when I work, such as Throwing Shade or Stop Podcasting Yourself. Sometimes I have to turn the podcasts off because I’m laughing so hard that I can’t keep a steady hand. I also spend about 25% of the time pushing cats off my work table, as I have 3 and they find what I do fascinating, apparently. 

I love the questions from Inside  The Actor’s Studio so I’ll finish this interview with those questions. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt (and why)?

Well I am also an Employment Counsellor, which is a great fit for me. I love helping people and I think a lot of the time we underestimate how much of an impact our jobs have on our lives. I’d love to try being an Archaeologist, as this was my childhood dream. I can’t imagine a more exciting feeling than entering a long forgotten crypt or uncovering a priceless artifact!  

What profession would you not like to do (and why?)

I will never again work in an office with regular hours. I don’t care what the job is. I need flexibility and I need control over my workday, and I haven’t been able to find those in an office job.

 If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“Welcome, all the pets you had in your life are waiting for you just over there!”

You can check out more of Krystyn's work in her Etsy shop CalliopeKitten, on her Calliope Kitten tumblr, and her Calliope Kitten blog. Follow Calliope Kitten on twitter.

Krystyn was interviewed in April, 2012, by Lindsay of KnittyLittleSecret.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome interview :)
    & Great seller + products!

    I am giving away 2 of her pieces in my giveaway! (Ends May 7)
    SPILLEDPOLISH | My Yellow & Pink Themed Giveaway


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