Leina: I've always had a desire to own my own business. I was always the crafty type of person. I remember seeing hand-crafted jewelry on other people with the shells and pearls. I just see the pieces that were made and think, “How would I do it?” So I started playing around with jewelry and crafts. Eventually, I got better at it and made pieces I were proud of. Then I decided to turn that into my business. It allows me to express my creativity and push myself to grow.
Me: What types of jewelry do you make?
Leina: I make earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and bangles. I also make custom native chokers. Right now I'm working on a men's line using a lot more leather.
Me: Where did you learn to make jewelry?
Leina: I learned at home, watching my mom and older sister. I also took classes at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Me: What inspires you when you design your jewelry?
Leina: Sometimes just walking on the beach and seeing pieces of coral or shells gives me inspiration to make something. Other times, people ask me to make something for their event by giving me different colors. So I create jewelry with shells and coral that have meaning behind it to create jewelry for their party.
Me: How does your heritage affect your business?
Leina: I try to use legends and myths from my Hawaiian culture to bring meaning or a story behind the piece. I feel that a lot of Hawaiian art is gone whether in carvings, paintings, or even jewelry. So I like to use my native background as a tool towards my creations.
Me: How important is it to have support from your family for your business?
Leina: It is very important. Sometimes you need help to load the car with all the tables and chairs for craft shows. Being a craft vendor is very difficult to do on your own because some craft shows last longer than 10 hours. So you need someone there for potty breaks and to have someone help watch the booth so no one steals anything. It is great to have family around for help with everything.
Me: What is your favorite material to use when making jewelry?
Leina: I like to use beading wire and freshwater pearls the most.
Me: How can someone get in contact with you if they'd like to order something?
Leina: You can e-mail me on any ideas at email@example.com or you can go to my etsy website at TrulyNative. I'll be having a booth at the Hawaii Island All Nations Powwow in Hilo, Hawaii on September 21st and 22nd at Mo'oheau Bandstand Park and at the Honolulu Intertribal Powwow at Thomas Square Park in Honolulu, Oahu on October 5th and 6th.
Me: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about making their own jewelry?
Leina: When you're first trying to create a new piece, always use cheaper materials to make a sample and then once you've mastered making it, then use the real materials that you originally wanted to use. Don't be afraid to try new materials like stones, etc.
We both would like to thank everyone who entered my giveaway. Now for the big announcement!
Congratulations to Jessica S.!!!
Thank you to everyone for making it so successful! If you have a jewelry etsy shop, feel free to share it with me.