Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday Artisan: AyaDesigns

Happy Saturday!
This week, our Saturday Artisan is Aya of AyaDesigns.

I always admire Aya's work. Her designs are amazing and she combines colors perfectly. Take a look at this Gorgeous Multi Colored Three Strands Freshwater Pearls Necklace for example, stunning isn't it?

As part of The Artisan Group (TAG), an elite art promotions group representing talented small-business artisans at the best celebrity gift lounges, Aya has designed custom pieces for exclusive collaborative gift bags prepared especially for Hollywood celebs including Tyra Banks, Amy Poehler, Mariska Hargitay, Brandi Glanville and Stephanie Drapeau! Featured in GBK's The Artisan Group 2013 Oscars Gift Guide.

Let's get to know Aya a little bit more, shall we?

Tell us a bit about yourself and what arts/ crafts that you make?

I'm a military brat born in France to a French Mom and American Dad. I've traveled all over the world and my love of travel and fashion has taken me in this direction. What started as a hobby has turned into a wholesale business (I sell to stores in MI, FL, OK and GA) at the urging of my adult daughters a few years ago.
My online business is a side note but I'm really loving it!
I handcraft jewelry using natural stones, semi precious stones, freshwater pearls, Lampwork beads and crystals. I go to gem shows to choose my own stones - it's a lot of fun.

What is the story behind your shop name?  

Not too original, I'm afraid. I've used my nickname. My full given name is Ariane.
Aya came as a result of my closest sister not being able to pronounce the French version of Ariane (Ah Ree Anne) - it became Eye Ah! :D
When I lived in Turkey, I was told that it means To the Moon ... so I've always liked my nickname!

Who is your target market?

My target market is anyone who loves beautiful classic, elegant, affordable jewelry. I do cater to a lot of brides and their bridesmaids as well.

Which part of creation process that you enjoy the most?

From the minute I get new stones and findings, I'm excited to get back to my work station and start putting pieces together. I've been known to take apart and restring many times until I get the piece that pleases me the most.

For us who love to travel, could you share a bit about your beautiful town/ city? 

I have been settled in Atlanta, GA now since 1989. I came via France, Belgium, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many states thanks to my military Dad and my ex husband who is an airline pilot.

Could you share on how your organize your products, we all can use a little tips here and there in this department?

I'm a bit of a neat freak - it's taken many tries to find the right bins and containers to store my stones and findings. Nothing genius but it works for me.

What is your best seller?

I don't know that I have any one best seller since I make mostly one of a kind items but I seem to do really well with my shell pearls stretch bracelets - they resemble Mikimoto pearls but are a fraction of the cost ... and Southern women especially love them.

How does your day go in general?

I'm retired from an actual real day job so my day is whatever I want it to be now! I try to walk anywhere from 4-8mi a day or swim laps (I'm a former competitive swimmer). I will then spend time taking photos and editing pics of my jewelry during the sunlight hours and usually will spend about 4-5 hours crafting in the evening while watching (listening really) to PBS or HGTV. I usually do this 5-6 days a week and always try to take one or two off just to recharge.

How do you balance your personal and work life?

My work life is something I love but I always have time to spend with friends or family. I'm blessed in that regard. Never forget to enjoy life, it's short and so very precious.

What inspires you?

Everything inspires me! I love nature and people and travel and photography and life ... I'm continually evolving in taste and style but I think it's a good thing! I'm inspired by happy, content people. I'm inspired by middle eastern colors, I'm inspired by the French woman's style.

What is your goal for 2014?  

I'll be 55 in May 2014 and my biggest goal is to travel to Morocco! I still travel to France every year to visit my Mom (my parents divorced and she moved back to her homeland), but I am now doing hiking trips in a different country each year as well.
Business wise, I'd love to reach a level of comfort where I don't have to work so hard on promotions since it's so time consuming (maybe that's a dream, not a goal).
I also plan to get a check-up and take better care of this middle-aged body!

Any advice for others running their on-line shop?

The biggest advice is to self-promote! Use the tools out there to get your shop more exposure. This blog is a great example of that, Facebook biz page, twitter and your local newspaper are others. Don't be timid. And if you are turned down, there's always another door! Believe in yourself.

Saving money is important; tell us one thing that you do to save money?

I do like to save money! No real tricks but I'm a couponer and a firm believer in contributing to an IRA. It's never too late to start. The more you save, the more you'll want to!

How to be in touch with Aya?


Stay-tuned for tomorrow's giveaway!


  1. Very interesting to read the story of a jewelry artisan who has 'arrived.' Congratulations to Aya ( I thought she was Turkish when i saw her name at Artfire). And congratulations on your very informative interview, Nat.

  2. very interesting! thanks for sharing it!

  3. I also admire Aya's jewelry. The pearl bracelet is especially beautiful! I enjoyed reading this interview and wish Aya much success this year as she works to achieve her goals!

  4. It's always fascinating to get "up close and personal" with an artist you admire. Continued good luck, Aya! Thank you for sharing, Nat!

  5. I love the color coordination in her jewelry and it is always very interesting for me to look at the behind-the-scene photos on how an artist works on her creations.

  6. Margie B here: I've never met Aya in person but hope to at an Izmir HS reunion in the fall of this year, that, coincidentally, she is also coordinating. Yes, as a military brat, I too lived in Turkey but before her time. I've come to "know" her on FB because I love her positive energy, her posts, as well as her jewelry. It is easy to converse with her in this forum. I also love how she's promoting downtown Atlanta, a place I was never much interested in exploring until she "brought it to life " in such a way as to want to go there and explore. Thanks Aya. I love the traditional, classic styles of jewelry she makes. The featured freshwater pearl bracelet is one of my favorites....I'm a pearl lady. Thank you for the article, great read.

  7. I find it really interesting that Aya's online shop is a side venture. I wonder if the jewelry she sells whole sale is the same as the pieces she has online. Either way, I's glad she has an online shop so that those of us not near the stores that sell her jewelry can buy one (or more) of the beautiful pieces she creates!

  8. I love all the jewellery in her shop! And yay thanks for the money saving tip!

  9. Very interesting and informative! I learned the target market= anyone who loves beautiful classic, elegant, affordable jewelry. LOVE that!

  10. Wholesale must keep you busy, that's great! As a fellow Georgian, I know Southern women do like their pearls ;-)

  11. Really gorgeous creations, she really inspires me to try to make more jewelry again as with the right materials you can truly create a special piece.

  12. Beautiful work! I love that she sells to MI, my home state. I wonder if I've ever seen her pieces in a store? : )

  13. I love that she says she is a neat freak! It's just like me ... organized creativity!

  14. I learned that she used her nickname as the shop name.

  15. I learned that her nickname means To The Moon

  16. I also have a friend named Ariane. It's a lovely name!

  17. Your days sounds wonderful - way to walk so much and still run such a stunning shop.

  18. Thanks so much for all the lovely comments everyone! And thank you again Nat for this feature - you are amazing! <3

  19. Going to the gem shows would be incredible. I'd want to buy it all.

  20. wow, so well travelled and such beautiful pieces. I do love the pearl pieces.

  21. I like the idea of featuring an artist. It gives everyone a chance to see or meet people they may not know about on art fire.

  22. I learned that Aya is 55, and that she was born in France. Her mother is French and her father is American. I'm impressed that she picks her own gemstones for her lovely jewelry.

  23. Hobbies become bussiness, what a move! You got it right!