Featured Visual Artists: Stephanie Bennett
When speaking to Stephanie, you can really feel the enthusiasm she has for her art of creating wire wrapped jewelry. She excitedly shows me Instagram photos of pieces she has done and pieces she aspires to create in the future, in which she refers to as “crazy wire wrapping”. Stephanie has never taken a class in jewelry making. She learned in the classic DIY style of perusing youtube tutorials as her base. “A lot of it is my own creativity. Once you weave, you can create your own patterns.” The wire she uses is sterling silver or galvanized copper, and her stones are dark and luminous, sourced from a couple of reliable suppliers. “Labradorite is my favorite stone”, she says wistfully.
Growing up in Apex, Stephanie was an artsy child. The painting was and still is a favorite. When she was 12 years old, her mother took her to a craft store and picked out beading and posts and they begin to make jewelry together. Stephanie quickly took to it and one day in school, when standing in the lunch line, a cafeteria worker noticed her earrings and asked where she got them. At that moment, she realized that she could make this a business. She began to make gifts for friends and family at first. After graduating from college, she got her first “gig”. She frequented a now-closed cafe in Raleigh and convinced the owner to put her jewelry in the shop. “My jewelry was nowhere near the caliber it is today, so I’m grateful to them for giving me that chance”.
Once she started exhibiting her jewelry and started her Etsy store, Stephanie felt stuck. Her pieces were moving slowly on Etsy and she decided to look for a business coach. She was lucky enough to find two coaches that specialize in helping handmade artisans with marketing strategy and website design: Renae Christine and Starla Moore. She learned how to properly optimize her Etsy store with keywords and was able to move from page 50 to the top of the site for her chosen search terms. Another lesson she learned was to release pieces in collections, rather than one at a time. “Finding the right business coaches was very important to my success”.
Stephanie’s jewelry is one of a kind, and her style is “fantasy” – think vampires and elves. A survivor of domestic violence, she is taking back her life and advocating for other survivors in the process. “Every truly amazing artist has something dark to fuel their creativity, drive, and passion”. Her jewelry is a tool for her healing and she often donates some of the proceeds for craft show sales to Interact, her favorite charity that supports victims of domestic violence.
Perhaps you will find her one day at Comicon or a fantasy convention, but for now, she exhibits many pieces of her current collection at Imurj, with other pieces available on her Etsy store. She will be exhibiting at our local shop and e-commerce store for the next few months. You may even see her working on some of the pieces in her next collection at Imurj during an event.
WRITER: HEATHER BURNS