Q AND A WITH JEWELRY DESIGNER LOLA RICHARDS

LOLA RICHARDS and I met last year at the New Canaan Sidewalk Sale in New Canaan, CT.  We were one of the first to arrive at our spots on an unusually overcast and foggy morning.  Just as the other vendors were pulling in, the sky opened and let down so much rain, the streets were veritable rivers, objects of all sorts running with the current past our feet.  We were fortunate to have our tents set up and I remember exchanging a wave from our respective shelters.  When the rain let up, we introduced ourselves and found we had much more in common than our soggy shoes.  Lola’s jewelry shares a calming and spiritual sensibility that I was immediately drawn to.  Her use of color and texture are soothing to the eye and make for easy wearing with any outfit or style.  I meet dozens of jewelry artists on the road, but Lola Richards continues to stand out as one of my favorites.

What’s your first memory of being crafty?

My first memory of being crafty is opening the closet doors in our playroom as a child and seeing so many art supplies; I didn't know where to begin. My parents are creative so we were surrounded by all sorts of artistic catalysts. As a child I loved to draw and I dabbled in many other crafty ventures—needlepoint, hand quilting, candle making, paper arts and eventually beading.  As a child and young adult, I would find myself so engrossed in whatever I was creating that nothing else really mattered. Crafting became an outlet.

What’s your process?  How do you create?

While I still like to draw and doodle, I very rarely sketch out my designs before making them. Sometimes I have clear ideas and realize them easily right into production. Other times, it's not so easy. For example, if I have a really unique gemstone or component that I haven't used in a design yet, I'll meditate on it (or in other words, think really hard about it while I'm in the shower or while driving) until I come up with a few different designs. I'll then execute the design or designs and pick which I like the best. For as long as I can remember, I've designed pieces without boundaries, which has worked well for me. But recently I've realized that giving myself a few limitations can actually fuel more creativity, which is how my latest line was created.

Describe your workspace.

Ha! Well, I have an actual studio in our house with pretty pieces of art and pictures on the wall that make me smile. However, we live in a townhouse and the studio is three flights up from the main living area where our two boys spend most of their day. So, I've set up a temporary studio on our kitchen table and it's working out great; I can bead while I eat dinner! I am by no means an organized person and I thrive in a certain level of chaos. So, we clear off enough space to have dinner as a family then, it's back to work!

What do you want people to know about being an entrepreneur and your company, Lola Richards Designs?

I've always envisioned myself to be an entrepreneur. Even when I was making candles or stitching quilts as a kid I'd be thinking, "how can I make money doing this?"  Being an entrepreneur can be stressful, but it is extremely rewarding. If, like me, you're not great at time management, being self-employed can be a challenge—but when you're the only person you have to answer to, that can be a very validating feeling.  I put my heart and soul into everything I design for Lola Richards Designs. I make every single piece, string every bead by hand, take and edit all the photos, package and ship every order, and handle all marketing and social media. When you purchase something from me, you're going to receive a piece of jewelry created with intention. 

Where can we find more of your creations?

You can always shop online at www.LolaRichards.com.  I also participate in a number of events from the spring through the holidays across the tri-state area as well as New Hampshire and Vermont. The best way to find out where I'm vending is to follow my Facebook (Lola Richards Designs) or Instagram @lolarichards. 

Where do you find inspiration/who has been inspirational to you/what sorts of things influence your work?

I find inspiration in all sorts of places: nature, moods, music, gemstones, even food… may have something to do with the beads covering my kitchen table!  I've been inspired by many artists, but I have to say, my main source of inspiration has got to be my family and friends. They've supported my endeavors, no matter how quirky, and have always encouraged my creative entrepreneurship.

Tell us about being an artist and a mom.  What are the challenges?  What are the rewards?

Where to begin! Being a work-from-home-mom definitely has its challenges (my house is always a mess) but they are far outweighed by the rewards. One of my biggest challenges is time management. In addition to being super disorganized, I'm a bit obsessive, so when I have an idea or a new design I want to work on, I feel like I need to execute it immediately. It's hard for me to confine my creative time to naps and after bedtime because, let's face it; by bedtime I'm completely pooped.  When my first son was born, I went back to work after only 6 weeks. It was so hard; there was so much pressure. And I felt guilty ALL THE TIME. I felt like I missed so many moments that I’d never get back. I was able to make Lola Richards Designs my full time gig last year before my second son was born and it's been incredible. Being a working mom, either in home or out of the home, is hard. Society puts so much pressure on women to be amazing moms, incredible wives, magnificent hosts, and awesome at your job; but it’s literally impossible to kill it at everything. Your house can be a mess, maybe you haven't been out on a date in a year, your kids may be overdue for a bath and that's ok! Sometimes you need to just kick back with a glass of wine, goof around and have fun; your kids will thank you for it.

What are you working on for 2016? 

2016 is going to be amazing! My ultimate goal to be more organized.  The "business" aspect of this work is not really my thing, but I plan on educating myself more and using social media to my advantage. 2015 has laid an amazing foundation for my business. This year I'll be building on that, learning more, and having more fun!