Showcase Sunday: Kara Gerstel of Rock and Sea Designs

Rock and Sea Designs

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I had been admiring Kara’s work on Instagram for some time when I asked her to allow me to interview her for Sunday Showcase. I love her style. You can count on her pieces to have great color and a sense of airiness to them.

Rock and Sea Designs

1. Tell us about your jewelry handcrafting.

I started my company, Rock and Sea, almost two years ago. My jewelry features gemstones and mixed metals, and my style varies from eclectic and Bohemian, to traditional styles, all with a focus on color, interesting wire wrapping, and unique textures and lines.

Rock and Sea Designs

How long have you been making jewelry?

My first memory of jewelry making was when I was 9 or 10 years old – I used to make earrings for my Barbies with ball pins and tiny beads.

How did you get started?

When I was in high school, I was really fortunate that my school offered some amazing jewelry courses as art electives. I took a couple of classes and learned some basic metal smithing techniques, which really awakened my love for creating beautiful things by hand. When I attended Ithaca College, in upstate New York, I made wire wrapped gemstone necklaces and sold them in local shops to make a little extra money. After college, I began my career as a video producer, working first for a small video production company in Atlanta, and then for a global communications corporation for almost 20 years. I didn’t have a lot of free time to work on jewelry during my corporate years, but would create things once in a while in my spare time because I always had that urge to create. When my corporate job was eliminated at the end of 2015, I knew it was the perfect time to hone in on my creative drive, and follow my dream.

Rock and Sea Designs

Is it your main gig?

Yes, jewelry designing is my full time job. I was part of a large corporate layoff at the end of 2015. After taking some time off, I decided that it was perfect timing to really focus on making jewelry again. I spent every day for quite a few months designing, trying new techniques, exploring styles, and I enjoyed every minute of it. With my newly reawakened passion for jewelry design, Rock and Sea was born. I made it official when I opened my Etsy shop in early August of 2017.

Rock and Sea Designs

Do others participate in the process?

My wonderful husband is my biggest supporter. He helps me with so many of the behind-the-scenes aspects of running a business – dealing with taxes, licenses, etc.. so that I can focus on creating. He even makes post office runs for me.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the colors and textures in nature, especially the beach and ocean. I’m a beach girl through and through. When I was growing up, I spent lots of time in south Florida because my grandparents had a vacation home there. I always feel at home when I’m at the beach, and I feel just as comfortable in the water as I do on land. The beach and the ocean truly soothe my soul and bring me a sense of peace. My husband and I have always loved traveling to the Caribbean, and in 2002, we discovered the island of St. John, part of the U.S Virgin Islands. We were hooked after the first trip, and have been traveling there as often as we can ever since. I draw so much design inspiration from there. Everywhere you look, there’s incredible natural beauty full of vibrant colors. On my Instagram account, I periodically post my St. John photos along with my jewelry designs.

Rock and Sea Designs

What do you love most in regard to your jewelry designing?

I really love that fact that designing and creating jewelry doesn’t feel like a job. I can’t wait to get started on it every day, and I always have new design ideas swirling around in my head. I get to do something that I truly love every day, and I’m so thankful for that.

Rock and Sea Designs

What is your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge is definitely time management. I think often people don’t realize how time consuming it is to run a small business. I wish I could just create jewelry all day every day, but for every piece I make, I then take all of the photos, edit them, and then create the listing on Etsy. Then I choose/edit photos for Instagram and Facebook, write my posts, choose hashtags, and post at various times throughout the day. Then there are the day-to-day Etsy tasks like working on SEO (search engine optimization). That is one of the most important things on Etsy that helps people find your products in searches. So long story short, every day is a full day of multitasking.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

Do you have a website and/or social media sites where people can connect with you?

If you like the jewelry you see here, I urge you to check out Kara’s shop and to follow her on social media. You won’t be disappointed with eye candy!

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