Gettin' Made: And Gettin' Connected

Cupcakes. Bright colors. Fabulous jewelry and hair accessories.

Have I gotten your attention? I'm talking about Shari Bonnin, a city of Orange crafter that's been doin' what she do for almost 10 years now. The crafter behind Bonnin Designs is more than happy to give you a piece of her mind, and in today's post she'll also give you a piece of her jewelry! That's right folks, it's giveaway time!

After the jump, let's get some background on this girl.


OC Weekly: Tell us about yourself and your life outside of crafting.

Shari Bonnin: It's the greatest thing when everyone in the family has their own important interests. My husband of 18 years, Ralph, is a cyclist when he's not working at Northrop Grumman and so he's supportive of me, but gets a little overwhelmed with my craft clutter at times. We moved to Orange 7 years ago and live on the greatest street in a quiet little old neighborhood. We all know each other, we help out with the older neighbors, and have 4th of July block parties. It's like middle America smack in the middle of the OC. We couldn't live in a better place.

Somehow I ended up the mother to 2 teens that go to high school. I have no idea how that happened so fast. First I was sewing baby blankets and then I looked up, Emily wanted her driver's license, Ethan wanted to join the high school wrestling team. What? And of course we have our 2 Whippet's, Flick and Summer. Summer lays at my feet when I'm on the computer or at the jewelry table. She wants to make sure I'm not leaving any time soon.

I worked in adult physical rehabilitation for many years as an Occupational Therapist but retired 8 years ago to stay home full time with my kids and pursue my creative interests and build my business from home. I also am a flamenco dancer so I was able to spend more time dancing at the time as well. Part of my business has always been tied into my love of flamenco because I was the first person in the US selling original flamenco jewelry online outside of Spain. I currently sell Flamenco flowers worn in the hair but they don't only have to be for dancers.

OCW: What sorts of crafts do you make? Are there any favorite supplies you love to work with most?

SB: I'm all about having fun and I'm drawn to bright colors, but I want to maintain being affordable. So I've decided recently to narrow my line down somewhat and focus on what's really been the most popular items – my flower rings, cupcake rings, and various hair accessories. I recently discovered feathers; the best part about them is that they don't take up too much room in the craft cupboards but they add such flair to whatever I put them on. While making jewelry,

I also multi-craft (which is multi-tasking for crafters) and  results in many UFOs (unfinished objects) or WIPs (works in progress). I sewed a bunch of skirts for the summer with minimal sewing skills and a whole lotta hope since I hate wearing shorts. I also love to do photography, and I knit and crochet in the evenings or when I'm waiting for kids in the car at their various practices. I have also been re-purposing old wool sweaters, trying to come up with ways to combine it all with my jewelry, and as usual hoping it will result in the “next best thing”. Still working on that… I'll get back to you.

OCW: How long have you been selling your crafts? Do you sell your items in stores or do you concentrate on your online presence?

SB: I've been selling my jewelry and accessories in stores, galleries, and online since 2000, which is just about 10 years. I had to write that out so I could actually see it to believe it! Currently I am only selling in my Etsy shop. I am planning on doing some craft shows, but keeping it small.

I would love to expand my bridal presence in Orange County with the feathered flower barrettes for brides and bridesmaids; I think that would really be fun! I've already had quite a few custom orders through my Etsy shop for the flowers to be used for various occasions such as black tie events, singing groups, weddings, and even for dancers, and people have really loved them! They are very affordable and you can wear them over and over again.

On the next page, this gal's got connections and is sure to find you on Twitter.

OCW: You are big on Twittering, and I mean that in the best of ways – I think that's how we got to know each other! Tell us your thoughts on how Twitter has brought the indie craft community together.

SB: I am big on Twittering, which totally annoys my kids because teens don't get it yet. But I have found that Twitter has been perfect for me to find others with common interests. I've met indie crafters and indie business owners in real life from Twitter that live locally and we've bartered products and become friends. I am really loving the posts about indie store openings and craft shows. This allows me to know what's going on all in one place and keeps me in the loop.  When people post sales, other people repost those sales and you get the support from other crafters. That's a great feeling and brings the community together.  One of the best parts of Twitter to me though, is to be in touch personally and professionally in real time with the crafty friends I know from around the country and around the world.

OCW: Speaking of the crafting community, are you a part of any Etsy Teams? How has it affected your Etsy business?

SB: I recently joined a group called the Etsy Twitter Team. We promote each other on Twitter as well as through our blogs, on Etsy's Treasurys, through promotional gift guide pages, and anywhere else possible to help get each other sales. It's been a great promotional tool for many of us to get increased exposure and more sales, and is a fantastic and supportive group to be in.

OCW: In that same internetty vein, you were recently nominated for an award for your blog – tell us about that, and what sorts of things you talk about on your blog!

SB: Ah yes, The OC Blog Award nomination for most “Creative” blog. Content creative, we're talking. What an honor. My blog is about the me behind the jewelry designer. I cook crazy things – if they turn out and I amaze myself and remember to take a picture, it will turn up on the blog. I make things up and sometimes post tutorials like a felted sweater I cut up and sewed last year. I decorate, and I love to promote other designers on my blog, mostly ones that I've purchased their items. I talk about my fascinating teenagers' antics and sometimes my silly and adorable whippets. recently held this OC Blog Award “Ceremony” but it was more like a party. Most of the nominees were there and it was more like a big networking and food eating fun time. At a certain minute the winners were Twittered, so it was so less stressful than a “come up and get your award” kind of ceremony and more of a “welcome to the world of technology and keep eating your Dippin'Dots while someone screams, “Yay, I won””. I didn't win, needless to say, but it was a huge honor to be nominated. That's what you say, right?

Lovin' Shari's pieces? Now's your chance to win one of her cupcake rings in your choice of colors! Just leave us a comment on this blog post tellin' us what you think and you'll be automatically entered to win!

Contest ends at midnight on Friday, September 18. While we welcome any and all comments, including multiples if you'd like to start a discussion, only one entry will be allowed per person and if you've won in the last 30 days you'll be ineligible so others have a chance at awesomeness.


Want to know more about Shari's work? You can visit her Etsy shop, follow her Twitter, or read that award-nominated blog! Shari is also a regular blog contributor for the Rare Bird Finds website.

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