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Life & Work with Sara Quiroz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Quiroz.

Hi Sara, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My career as a silversmith has been one of the most unexpected and satisfying times in my life. In 2015, I left my elementary art teaching position after my dad passed away and my husband and I moved back to St. Louis from Central Illinois. (*Fun fact: the name “Key Rose Customs” partially came from my art teaching days. My last name is Quiroz, but sounds like “Key Rose” so I had both on display so my students and other teachers could pronounce my name correctly.)

When we moved back, I needed a boost of artistic creativity, so I took some metals/jewelry classes at The Craft Alliance as a refresher from the one college semester I had, about ten years previously. It was exactly what I needed and wanted. Idle hands are not my friend, and I’ve always kept myself busy with art or some sort of craft throughout my entire life. I started making jewelry shortly after in 2016, with a wobbly folding table and minimal tools. Friends and family were super sweet and supportive and purchased pieces right away.

The sales never stopped, so neither did I! My husband and I have taken turns at different points in our lives being the breadwinner, while the other one chases their dreams and it was my turn to go after this full time working artist life. I couldn’t be more thankful. Weekly, I bought better equipment, better stones, and more silver. My work has greatly evolved and I am so excited to keep challenging myself towards creating bigger and better work.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Being your own boss and solo running your own business is no joke. Think about any big business, they have a tech dept, an accounting dept, a social media/advertising team, a sales team, etc. Individual small businesses owners are an entire company all in one person. It’s hard to find “off” hours. It’s a struggle to balance all the different business aspects that require your time, but damn, I wouldn’t give it up for anything! I love my life as a working artist and I endlessly appreciate all of those who support it and keep me going.

Being a vendor at pop ups and art shows has been an incredible part of my career as well. In the beginning, it’s all trial and error as far as finding the right shows for you and your clientele. Got for it though! You’ll never know how your work is responded to unless you go for it and open yourself up to potential customers. There have been some shows that I’ve sold nothing, and others that have blown me away with sales. After you’ve done it a while you’ll get a grasp of which shows are for you and which aren’t. Just like any other aspect of your business, you’ll fine tune as you go.

The same goes with custom orders, you have to give it a go (if you’re willing to create custom work) and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I knew I wanted to offer custom work (hence my name) but I didn’t know what my policy would be. Going into my first order, I knew something would go wrong, but then I’d know how to fix it in the future. I was right too, it didn’t work out, but I knew just how to prevent those mistakes moving forward. Being a small business owner means adapting and making changes, learning, growing and improving.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My work almost exclusively consists of one of a kind pieces. I like knowing that my work is special to not only me, but the person who wears it. I want it to be as individual and beautiful as those who purchase it. Who doesn’t like to stand out in a crowd and have pieces that no one else will have? It’s truly a beautiful thing. A small amount of my work can be made to order, so it is less individual, but still of my own design and hand-built with love. Anything I make will always have it’s own personal touch.

Using natural stones in my work is so inspiring in itself, Mother Nature is a true boss! I take pride in keeping things hand built in my work, so I love including handmade leaves and flowers to fit my nature lovers vibe. Sometimes I have a design in my head I’d like to execute, so I’ll look for a stone that will fit well, but most times I let the stones “speak” and help guide my design. For instance if there’s a stripe that runs across the stone, I might accentuate it in the setting. If a stone is irregularly shaped, it is fun to play around with different design components and see what fits best. Other times, it’s helpful to turn the stone (or even nearly finished designs) in different directions to find the best orientation and look. The more fun you have creating your work, the better it will be. The passion can be seen in the final product.

Even though I’ve been making jewelry full time for five years now, I am still finding myself in my work and experimenting. I think I’d actually be pretty sad if I just kept my work the same for years and years. There will be some themes and detailed finishes that last, but I’m looking forward to growing and changing as an artist over the coming years.

It is a personal mission of mine to help bring the Bolo Tie back! They are just the coolest and can be dressed up or down. Many people admire bolos, but don’t go for them because they “can’t pull them off”. The only thing you need to “pull something off” is CONFIDENCE! Bolo ties are for girls and guys and everyone in between.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
It is NEVER too late to chase your dreams or switch your life up. As my beloved Steve Winwood says, “If you see a chance, take it”!

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