Emma: I used to spend my free time with people. The tables turned come COVID. I needed a solo hobby.
I stumbled across the clay jewelry world in a quarantined-inspired Google dive. I’ve always loved big, bold earrings. But as someone with sensitive ears, I could never wear the statement pieces I’ve seen so many others rock.
Designing my own earring line offered an opportunity to create the fashion forward looks and do so with materials that could serve all ears – sensitive and beyond. I started experimenting, failing, learning and trying last summer. Eventually, I got the hang of molding clay into earrings.
I launched my Etsy shop in January with two goals in mind: 1) avoid hoarding the dozens of earrings that come from each creation session, and 2) connect with people after a year in which connections have radically changed. From Germany to California, and so many in DC, it’s been as inspiring as it is rewarding to see the earrings that started on my kitchen counter on the ears of strong womxn across the country, and around the world.
Emma: Much of how I’ve filled my time during COVID comes from childhood. As a kid, I used to craft on weekends and over summers. I loved paint by numbers and at the start of COVID, I picked this back up. Until I got restless, and clay earring making took paint by numbers’ place.
I am creative by nature. I am a writer and communicator by day. Adding a fresh creative outlet allows me to unleash leftover creative juices after the work week is up.
Emma: Yes and no. Yes, I always don studs and love swapping for statement pieces when I decide to actually get dressed (read: you can normally find me in yoga wear).
No, in that I’ve never looked to earrings as what makes an outfit, rather as an extra piece simply to amplify my style.
This process has expanded my view. Rather than an extra, earrings and jewelry – like all external choices we make – deliver a chance to own our power and express our whole, messy, beautiful selves.
Emma: I follow tons of clay earring enthusiasts and experts on Insta. Their talent is my inspiration.
Plus – and excuse the loftiness – I’m inspired by womxn. I grew up learning that womxn should be “elegant” and “refined.” But who defines what elegant is? Who gets to tell us – womxn – how we do or don’t show up? I see these earrings as a small part of a bigger movement that we womxn are defining: making the choices to defy the expectations that we’ve been socialized to think are the norm. How can we dare to be different? How can we wear our boldness and live our truth – wherever, whenever?
So yes, I’m inspired by womxn – my customers, champions, mentors, role models – who, whether by wearing their boldness or speaking truth to power, are integral parts of progressing society forward.
Emma: We often talk about 2020 as a year on pause. But it’s not. I’ve learned that growth comes in so many new and beautiful ways. Here’s a challenge: track month by month all you did over 2020. I bet you’d be surprised to see how much change, albeit a different, slower change, has ensued.
Like life in a pandemic, making earrings challenges me to be patient. Every earring project starts with stacks of plastic-wrapped clay. Stacks turn into hand-molded clumps that turn into eye-catching designs. As with life, it’s just about trusting the process.
Emma: ESBStudio started as a quarantine hobby. It’s wild to think I started my own small business! Building out the business side is my next step, namely – better understanding paid and organic marketing. It’s incredibly hard to not only drive traffic, but convert interest to purchases.
Emma: My best-selling pair of neutral drop earrings and my half moon dangles that sold out within two days of posting.
Emma: On my Etsy shop here (perk: use code GATHERDC for 10% off your purchase!). And for those interested in following the journey, via my ESBStudio Instagram here. But if they’re looking for me specifically: you can find me at DC’s public tennis courts after work. Get in touch through the DC Jew Crew tennis squad here.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.