Creators Vancouver, Sarah Mulder Q/A, April 10th 2018
i. I work as a:
Jewelry designer and artist in downtown Vancouver (Gastown)
ii. I do this creative work because:
It’s ingrained in me, I go to bed with designs in my head. I get flooded with ideas that I sometimes have to get out of bed to write down and I wake up with shapes and colours that must be immediately be drawn out. It’s my life and my therapy for peace of mind (but the designs in the middle of the night drive me a little crazy – it’s slightly obsessive!!)
iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
I’m self driven and passionate about what I do. I make a list at the beginning of every week and pick my top things to get done and just do them (as much as possible). I also like to surround myself with other creative people that are going through the same growth as me- with the same passion and vision, it’s extremely helpful to share ideas and resources and help each other grow. I love seeing my friends succeed it’s really amazing.
iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
You have to want to do everything (even the bad/scary/tedious/boring/annoying stuff!!) until you get to a place where you can start to hire people to take over some of those things for you!! I’m in a place now where I potentially could hire someone part-time, but it’s REALLY hard to hand over the reins!! BUT when you find the right people everything just sort of seems to fall into place.
v. Creative childhood hobbies:
Art, Art and more Art. I didn’t want to do anything else (except swim…I loved swimming! Haha). I can remember at a pretty young age being obsessed with making “friendship bracelets” with embroidery thread. I made an entire shoe box of them because when I get on a creative roll, I’ll just do it forever. I found the box when I was in my 20’s and was learning how to knit and play the guitar. I tied all of those bracelets into one long “yarn” strand and knit the most amazing guitar strap of all time…the guitar got stolen …I no longer knit…or play guitar, but MAN was I proud of that damn strap!! I hope someone is using that thing still.
vi. Other creators who inspire you:
I have a whole circle of amazing friends that have been building their businesses/careers since I’ve known them. My list would be very long here!! There are a couple of women I get to see on the regular – my studio mate Hailey Gerrits (jewelry designer), Anita Chow (Make More Happy Knits), and Henny Hwang (Hennygraphy photography) who have a big impact on my business. I moved in three years ago to our studio in Gastown with Hailey and we have been able to grow our businesses substantially in that period of time. We are each others go-to’s for day to day problem solving and which is so rare in our field. I couldn’t have gotten this far without her and her business drive is awesome to be around!
Anita of Make More Happy is my go-to for everything when I need a second opinion or advice, she’s become one of my best friends and I am so proud of how clever and creative she is. I’m always in awe of how she develops her beautiful product…she makes her own knit patterns!!! It blows my mind every time!!
Hennygraphy I met through collaborating with photographers for photoshoots. I connected with her while she was living in Toronto and found out she was moving back to Vancouver and as soon as she did we became instant friends through our love of creation and art. I have hired her ever since for my Lookbook photoshoots and still do tons of collaborative projects with her as well. She’s constantly growing her business and it’s beautiful to see where it’s leading her. We totally “vibe” off of each others ideas and dream up pretty little projects together- I love it!!
vii. Training that has helped me succeed in this career:
I did go to Langara and Emily Carr University graduating with a BFA…which all had a direct impact on my skills and growth as an artist, but jewelry is 100% all me. I picked it up as a hobby and I am completely self-taught. Every photoshoot/design and other bits and pieces were just something that I picked up. Now I watch/listen to podcasts or have lots of chats with other designers which seems to be the most effective way of growing- you just gotta get out there and do it- meet people and never stop talking. You will always take something away from a great conversation.
viii. The biggest myth about this type of work is:
It’s non-stop fun. People think that we don’t work that hard or for very many hours in a day. Ummmmmmmmmm yahhhhhh
We pretty much never stop working and connecting and scheming and planning…it’s go-go-go. My jewelry is currently in 40+ stores and it’s just me running the show. There’s no such thing as an entire day off anymore because inevitably there will be a phone call or an email to return from home. I do LOVE my work, so I’m very happy to put those hours in and feel lucky to get to do that. I’m a happy person and my work is a reflection of that environment that we have created- so when we are working, it feels really good!
ix. Some proud career moments:
Moving into my studio 3 years ago was a highlight for sure, my business really grew after that. This is my 7th year being full-time in jewelry design and working for myself and I just signed with an Ontario Sale Rep which has been awesome! I’m looking forward to an amazing year (it’s already been a great start!).
x. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
Take a little course somewhere…see if it’s for you. Don’t throw yourself into a bunch of college courses or expensive tools. Make sure you like doing it by taking a small class (there’s some good ones in North Vancouver at Capilano Rock and Gem and in Burnaby at Mountain Gems ) I personally have taken a small wax carving class and tons and tons of other small classes in art and I think there is nothing like a hands-on course in a small group. The jewelry biz is incredibly competitive and somewhat oversaturated in Vancouver, so if you want to go for it, find your niche, do your research about what’s out there, check everything out and see where you might fit in to the market.
xi. A professional goal I have for the future:
Growth across Canada and slowly into the US market.
xii. If you want to see my work, go to: