The more we see artists get into the crafting side of things, the more we're finding people drawn toward creating upcycled art. Especially with the way we waste materials these days, the process has almost become second nature for these creators, who take what we discard and turn it into something amazing. One of the coolest items we've come across lately are the works from Good Vibes Jewelry, who have been taking bullet casings and turning them into necklaces. Today we chat with Sydnee Evans about her business and making these pieces of jewelry. (All pictures provided courtesy of Good Vibes Jewelry.
Good Vibes Jewelry on Facebook
Gavin: Hey Sydnee! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m just a girl who never wants to grow up. You’ll find me in the mountains most of the time. I love the outdoors and just about every hobby you can do outside. I’ve lived in Utah my whole life so far, and really love it. Any job I’ve acquired has had to do with being creative; if not, I’d quit after a short amount of time. I’m a pretty firm believer in manifesting your own happiness with living simply, surrounding yourself with like-minded people and aiming to be the best versions of ourselves.
How did you first get into jewelry making and doing it as a hobby?
First off, my mentality has always been “Oh, I can make that!” Shopping isn’t something that captures my attention usually, but put me in a craft store, and I leave arms full with projects. That said, I think my first jewelry pieces were “best friend” necklaces in middle school: as simple as buying a chain and then a cool pendant at the craft store, and linking the two together. My best friend Shae and I always vibed well together creatively, and it was her and I always doing the unusual. I would get very upset if anyone copied me, or us. Our "best friend" necklaces had to be handmade that only her and I would know the meaning. Pairing confidence with creativity is just the way my mind works; I thrive off of paying attention to detail. All that fake glittery diamond jewelry looked pretty lame to me, to be honest. I’m not a sparkly girl. Diamonds are not my best friends, haha! I couldn’t find much that was ever my style, and style points had to be top-notch through those years. Fast-forward to 10 years later, and I care less and less about what the popular vote is. individuality is the most beautiful way to be. I like being low-key, things that are affordable and casual, daily wear jewelry.
How my trademark bullet casing/crystal style started was simple too. I like shooting guns. It’s really fun, yet expensive. My significant other at the time was quite the collector of guns, and to save some money, we wanted to start reloading our own ammo. That never actually happened, because crystals ended up fitting [in the casings] like a glove. Haha!
What were some of your earlier creations like, and how was it learning to develop your skills?
My very first pendant I made I still have! It’s a .22 casing with wire threaded through to hold the crystal tight. Maybe six months to a year later, after enough people noticed and liked the ones I would make for myself and my dude, I started making more pendants and told people they can put it on whatever chain they wanted because how was I supposed to know how they wanted to wear it? This was just a little hobby for me. I believe in the metaphysical healing properties of crystals. If you think “Okay, that's weird. Hippy," I would like to challenge anyone to think back when you were a kid and how cool you thought rocks were—I simply didn’t grow out of that. It's like collecting seashells at the beach, I suppose. You don’t know why, but everyone pretty much seems to like finding them. It’s how I feel when I go into a rock shop. I always leave in a better mood! The energy is awesome and why wouldn’t you want to wear that daily? It was a slow process of trial and error! Still is, in fact. Better tools—and a work bench—makes the process go smooth. I have a video on YouTube
where you can see the process of how I make one.
What made you eventually decide to start it up as a business?
People were into it enough that I needed to meet the demand. It’s pretty crazy to me still that I have a little LLC business of creating handmade jewelry, but also really awesome! I’m not business-minded, and have little marketing skill, so that's why it's small. But it's real and not trying too hard, and that's how I’d like it to stay.
What was it like for you getting yourself setup and making an online shop?
Stressful! I wouldn’t have done it without all the help and encouragement I’ve had from my loved ones. It’s a commitment to turn what you love to do on the radar of judgment. Now it's a product, essentially, not just something I make for fun in my basement. I sell through BigCartel; they make it really easy to make your site, and then just recently I was approved for sale on Amazon in their new handmade section. I wouldn’t say that's so much my style, but it's cool to get your name out there to potentially 3 million people who visit that site daily. Why not at this point, right?
How do you go about finding the items you want to use for each piece?
I still handpick every stone I use. I go to local rock shops and find the collections of stones that are similar in shape, but each one is still its very own unique creation. I love that; it makes it very special to me. For some I can only find 10 stones so that's when it becomes even better, because you have to hop on it if you want one. Limited edition or supplies just make things that much more valuable. Keeps it interesting and creative for me, too.
I read you specifically keep the metals nickel free. What was the reason behind that decision?
Brass doesn’t contain nickel, the bullet casing is brass so it's easy to eliminate that common allergy from affordable metals. Some of the silver chains do have nickel
, for those who do not have that problem.
What’s the process like for you in creating a new item, from initial concept to final product?
I have about five new ideas always floating around in rotation, along with sticking with the beginning idea that sparked everything. To be honest, only one out of those five usually work out. It’s a part of the creative process. I get frustrated, can’t sleep over some ideas, then move on and revisit it later when I’ve gained a better understanding. It’s about trying, then perfecting. It’s not an overnight process.
Do you find yourself playing with ideas or scrapping stuff to make new things? Or are you more concept focused, where once you start, you finish it without deviation?
I stay with what works, meanwhile adding ideas always. I always deviate, haha! This isn’t a money-making thing for me, or a conveyor belt system. My heart goes into it. I often get asked, “How many can you make in a day?” “If you sold this many a day you could make this much…” I don’t look at it that way. The moment I do, creative flow stops, and so do sales. It’s interesting, when I get excited about something new, people feel it, I suppose. It could very well be my attitude towards it too. The flow has to be right, and I need to be in the right zone.
What was the public reaction to your line as you started getting noticed?
I’m not really sure. I don’t think I really reach out to the masses, just the ones who are in tune with what I’m doing and how I’m choosing to live and create my life. In all reality, I think each individual likes it for their own reason. Either they like me as a person and want to support me, or want to watch me fail and keep tabs on my “likes” or whatever. I accept the positive and dismiss the rest. That's also the hardest part, you have to let go of the mean or weird things you hear and just keep with doing your own thing; the right people respond positively. Be your own cheerleader, in a sense.
Have you started working with retailers or doing festivals yet, or are you primarily keeping your goods online for now?
I have dabbled in both. They all have pros and cons. Sitting all day and watching people walk by and then sort of having the same conversation or sales pitch isn’t for me. I’d rather spend my Saturday doing something awesome outside and taking one trip to the post office. But again, it depends on if you are wanting to make a career out of it. I sell currently in one shop on 25th in Ogden at The Queen Bee Giftery
. They are super laid-back, and I just like the vibe. I’m really not that great at talking myself up in that sort of setting. Plus, a lot of retailers want to cut you an overseas price to buy from you, and don’t consider that you aren’t a sweatshop. I have my hands in growing and expanding with people I think are great, and who understand what I’m about. The personal relationships is
how it works for me.
Do you do custom orders, and how do people get a hold you for these?
Yes! I actually love custom orders, I love hearing the stories that come along with why they want the certain things made. Makes my heart feel good how sincere people can be. Often it's special, and I love being the catalyst in that. I like for people to contact me directly through email at email@example.com
Where do you hope to take the business down the road, and are you looking to expand beyond the jewelry you’re making now?
I live in hope, in every aspect of life. I hope to be able to always create, expand into silver soldering, some apparel, collaborations with great companies. Mostly, the ability to travel and create things from those areas too, meanwhile all staying local. Not just local to Utah, but to local loving places. I hope to have people see the genuine vibe of art and the love for it.
What can we expect to see from you and Good Vibes Jewelry over the rest of the year?
Some collaborations are in the works! keep an eye on my Instagram
to not only get to know me personally and to see the lovely places I’ve seen. The places that inspire me to love this earth we live in, enough to wear pieces of it always. I would also like to thank everyone in my life that is a positive! I hope to feature some artists in the future as well and keep it a community of love and respect for one another. I want to build up the confidence to put yourself out there. Being unique and the essence of art and artisans.