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Invaluable Lessons from Traveling

Travel has always been in my life. Not in the nomadic sense, or in the super luxurious sense either. It was a very practical way of traveling where you did your research, made priorities on what to see and learn about, and how to budget your time to make the most out of the experience.


These lessons have spilled into various aspects of my life, but it's mostly shaped how I make jewelry. Jewelry for me is very much in tune with how I travel. You have to be a little eccentric to have fun and to seek adventure, but you also have to be sensible and have your wits about you. Those ideas have guided me throughout the making process and also helped me during the ebbs and flows of this business.


Research


Research is a lifestyle for me. For months before a trip, my dad would get out his travel books (Cadigan, Let's Go, Rough Guide, or DK) and bury himself in them. In the mornings, he'd get so excited telling us about what was out there, what we were going to see. He spent so much time planning each trip, and while they were always fun, we all--myself and parents--came away learning a lot about a different culture.


That mentality is what informs my designs and ultimately the jewelry I make. The research is thrilling, it takes my mind into faraway lands, in to other time periods, and feeds my imagination. I joke that I live in another world, but I really do. My mind is half present, half on an adventure somewhere else.


Prioritization


There are some travelers whose goal is to see as many cities, countries, sights as possible in one trip, and when I bump into these types of travelers, I'm exhausted for them. I always think of how stressful that has to feel to be on those types of trips. You're always on the go, in a foreign place, trying to figure out the money, the language, the customs, and also feel this need to see every single thing in that place in less than 24 hours.


I was never interested in traveling to a place because I felt like I had to go there. I went because I wanted to see it, there was something about the place that piqued my interest. That principle has come in handy many times when it comes to making. Sometimes I have a billion ideas, some are good, some aren't as developed, so I have to choose which ones are going to end up functional, wearable, interesting, and aesthetically enticing. Am I making something because 'that's what jewelers make,' or am I'm making something because I want to and it interests me? I have to catch myself from time to time and find a new approach to what I prioritize.


Budget


Timing on a trip means everything. Getting to the airport on time, catching the train, giving yourself enough time to see what really matters to you. It's all about organization, while leaving some wiggle room for any mishaps. The memory that comes to mind was when my mom and I were in London, trying to catch a plane to go to Slovenia. There was a planned taxi strike happening in London, so we got up early, and walked close to 4 miles to reach a bus we had already reserved that would take us to the airport. You never what is going to happen on your travels, and you can plan all you want, but the adventure (and the storytelling) happens in those moments of uncertainty.


Budgeting my time with how I make jewelry influences every facet of the job. I'm a one-woman show so I want to make sure that I give myself enough time to create good work. From the graphic design, to the photography, to the making of the piece, I have to allot time to do each one and I try to execute every part with clarity and effectiveness. I don't like to rush through any part of this business, but I also realize that I've got to be efficient in order to move ahead with another task. There's always a bit of uncertainty with creativity because you never know when inspiration will come, so I like to block my time and add extra minutes/hours/days to allow for those moments to blossom. After all, the unexpected flood of inspiration is what makes for a good piece.


Thanks so much for reading this post, and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Caitlin