We had the good fortune of connecting with Carla Culpepper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carla, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I am a creative/business minded split meaning I operate out of both sides of my brain which can be a joyful conflict! Most careers moves Ive taking on must have a creative component yet I love understanding how different businesses work and managing teams.
Over time I have worn many hats and still do. From Image Consulting, a Certified Aromatherapist, Kitchen & Bath Designer, to owning a Business Coaching franchise. Some businesses did great…some ok! I have also work with companies while trying to keep my “side hustle” when I could. Oh ….and I am a mom as well forever working on a shoe string budget of time and resources-well that’s another story!
Many people are afraid to start a business because they prefer the security a job. Understandable. Me-I am the opposite! A job without a “side hustle” or main hustle means I’m giving that company total control of my livelihood. YIKES-scary! Even now working with a non-profit there is some stability yet not when funding and donations are slim. Then along comes Covid shutting down practically all my financial avenues.
I-myself had not been as committed to officially launching Metal Earth Artistry online! After a year of being held hostage to Covid and witnessing so much civil unrest, this moment has truly sparked my mind-set! Retail, events, and festivals (a necessary human component) will return but I certainly see where a major social presents is equally if not more important. Now I clearly see the cracks in the road of opportunity and sometimes need to get out of my own way and pollenate with others to succeed.
I believe the pandemic taught us that we are more than just an unhappy paycheck! . FEAR has a way of defeating you…or inspiring you to take risk. I am fairly confident that we are going to see an abundance of small businesses, side hustles, and solo-preneurs seriously emerge. You Only Live Once!!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The concept or branding of Metal EARTH is all that comes from the earth or helps sustain the earth. The metals are pure sterling silver, brass, copper, NuGold, gold, as well as, stones and gemstones. And when I say “sustainability” because I am excited to begin incorporating Lab-grown diamonds.
What makes my style of design different? I love finding ways to manipulate, blend, and texture the metal. My nickname BamBam because I typically hammer texture everything! IF I incorporate any stonework well that’s the icing.
My tag line says it all….”Life has character and so does my jewelry”! Sometimes classic but always statement making pieces.
Metalsmithing is not easy! Thats why you don’t see tons of metalsmithing goods unlike beading or machine fabrication of items you can put together. Some work can be rather time consuming…I mean one wrong move with the torch can KILL a project quick!! I have witness a many of artist either cry or there is a lot of cursing going on(guilty). Sometimes stuff just isn’t going according to plan-that’s when you have to step away. I’ve had a few projects I’ve walk away from and didn’t return for nearly 8 months. The idea I started with was not what it ended up being and it turn out AWESOME!
Life is not perfect so I try not to stress for perfection! Being a maker calms me and feeds my creative soul but there are times when you must take mental break to BREATHE & replenish:) I do not create based on prefection that mind-set allows me some peace. Many items I create I’ve become rather attached too! They’re like my little babies that you must let go. Some I don’t! That’s why people must understand a hand-made item is unique….no two are ever alike. There is a price that comes with its uniqueness, time, and love that has been placed into that piece of jewelry:)
I have learned a lot during this pandemic! As my focus for 2020 was to expand my retail footprint (HA need I say more), I realized just like with investments you must diversify. I have always had a small online presents yet not utilizing Social Media with great intents. The challenge with Online is keeping enough inventory and consistently fresh content. Then also having time to manage your “social presents’ on the front and back! So many of us simply got slammed financially during C19!!
So… lesson learned. Presently, I am revamping my Social media/online presents and creating some new artistic business partnerships…..so stay tuned!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This makes for an interesting question as we are coming out of Covid. Being a resident of Atlanta and “the Burbs” for over 30 years now, I truly have watch this city blossom! There are so many cracks and crevices of growth throughout ATL and metro area. The newest eclectic hangout would be The Atlanta Beltline. The city has artistically woven a brunch of creative, historical, and yummy experiences along a 22 mile trail. It’s a FAB way to absorb the ATL! From PONCE CITY MARKET, to a cool Skate Park, Krog Street Market, and Piedmont Park. You have an opportunity to experience interactive art, food, historical neighborhoods, and enjoyable green spaces. The Atlanta Beltline also connects to Freedom PARKWAY Trail and Stone Mountain Trail for serious jogging and biking. But wait…..I always take people to one of my favorite spots the original Flying Biscuit near Little 5 points and I “love” downtown Decatur area!
Let us not forget ATL metro! There are many “small towns” out in the burbs with loads of personality. I live out in Covington home of Vampire Dairies and many other movies and nostalgia TV shows. Our Square is consistently full of vampire fans taking a tour. When hanging on the Square we’d checkout City Pharmacy Restaurant or Townhouse Cafe that has been around since 1966! Then off to Wildart Gallery(where some of my pieces are sold) and Scoops for ice cream and old school candy!
Hmmm….I might need to take a Stay-cation!:)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First I must give a Shoutout to my Mom for dragging me and my siblings out to many art festivals, museums, and cultural events. Creating a love and appreciation for hand-made artistry!
Now fast forward, the journey continued seeking out unique handmade items that have a story! Opportunity strikes! While buying some earrings in a cool little shop, the owner informed me the artist also taught metalsmithing-thus it began! SHOUTout too known artist AND INSTRUCTOR Wendy Tonsits of Amalgam Arts Studio, AS WELL AS, all the wonderful artists that hung out there. I studied for nearly three years under Wendy’s direction.
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Gabrielle Colton Photographer cover -personal photo