Advancement

An Endless Work In Progress

December 18, 2017
Kisa Ito

I’m the type of person who tries to make something before buying it when it comes to crafty gifts or decor (no food though – trust me, no one would want that). This has gotten me into a vast number of situations in which my results are nowhere near my vision, and all I gain is a bunch of craft supplies I don’t need. I like to think of myself as fairly creative, but I’m not always successful, and I’m often overambitious.

My parents and siblings are all quite creative in their own ways, so I’ve been lucky to watch and learn for many years. I’ve especially always admired my sister for her perfect handwriting and innate sense of color and design, and my mom for her skills as a seamstress and all around do-it-ALL-yourself person. In true JA fashion, they’ve always silently challenged me to be better and not silently criticized my efforts when not impressed.

Author's family photo.

I’ve somehow taught myself over the past ten-ish (maybe closer to 15 but let’s keep the details vague) years how to craft jewelry. It came about when I was in high school and wanted to participate in an international conference in D.C. The program was a bit costly, but I convinced my parents to let me go if I raised the money myself. I wouldn’t say that I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit, so I’m still a bit surprised that my teenage self was somehow brave enough to start a mini jewelry business. My mom took me to buy some supplies and I started with some very simple but interesting designs.

Handmade necklaces.

When I think back to the first pieces I made in high school, I get hit with a wave of embarrassment and try to think about something else. Sometimes I’ll get asked how I learned to make jewelry, and I always awkwardly stumble through the answer because I never took a class, and to this day I don’t even know if I’m using the tools properly. Then I remember that I’m completely self-taught and that I’ve come a long, long way. I constantly have to remind myself to be confident and proud of my endless-work-in-progress hobby, even if my inner JA self is telling me not to toot my own horn.

"Then I remember that I’m completely self-taught and that I’ve come a long, long way. I constantly have to remind myself to be confident and proud of my endless-work-in-progress hobby, even if my inner JA self is telling me not to toot my own horn."

Most of the time, I feel awkward about the sales aspect of turning my hobby into a business, but I’m often reminded why I enjoy my craft. The best thing about making jewelry (besides being able to create my own accessories hours before I have to be somewhere) has been the ability to give back through my creativity. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of supporting many JA community organizations by donating jewelry to silent auctions and raffles. It’s always fun to make jewelry for my friends and family, but it has been beyond rewarding to see my creative passion support the community.

Handmade necklaces and kagami mochi earrings.
"It’s always fun to make jewelry for my friends and family, but it has been beyond rewarding to see my creative passion support the community."

I’m especially grateful for this hobby-turned-business as it has allowed me so many opportunities to meet other artists and small business owners through my own journey as a maker. From the very beginning, I’ve been fortunate to receive the support and kindness of fellow crafters who’ve given me loads of advice and inspire me to keep making. 

"I still feel nervous putting my jewelry designs in the public eye out of fear of not being good or unique enough, but I hold onto the advice I’ve received so many times to just go for it, because why not?"

I still feel nervous putting my jewelry designs in the public eye out of fear of not being good or unique enough, but I hold onto the advice I’ve received so many times to just go for it, because why not? And if not now, then when? (I also see a lot of Instagram bloggers sharing the same advice, so that’s how you know it’s legit.)

Check out some of Kisa’s designs at the Muni Handmade holiday pop-up currently open at Opodz, 362 East 2nd Street, LA, 90012.

Kisa Ito

Kisa is a fourth-ish JA Los Angeles native and has spent much of her life in Little Tokyo. She is currently the Marketing & Development Manager at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. In her spare time, she enjoys eating pasta and making jewelry.