Today's local artist spotlight features Terri Ellenburg of "So Beautifully Broken". Terri is a local jewelry maker and designer. She has SO much talent and I was THRILLED when I found out I get the opportunity to feature her on Native in Nashville. I am so excited to share a little about her and to show off some of her amazing pieces that she creates!
Tell me a little about yourself...where are you from and what do you do?
I am Tennessean born and raised. I'm a single mother of two kids, a daughter (age 12) and a son (age 16). I spend the majority of my time at travel soccer games and high school basketball games. I am a dreamer with a gypsy soul. The question I get most often is "what does the name 'so beautifully broken' mean?" It was actually inspired from the quote by Ernest Hemingway, "the world breaks everyone and afterward some are strongest in the broken places." I believe that it is our imperfections that make us beautiful, our mistakes that make us who we are.
I was 16 when I got pregnant with my son. I've worked full time since i was 17 trying to keep my head above water. You see, life isn't easy, it breaks everyone, puts us on our knees. But when you finally get to your feet and you stand looking back, you realize its the brokenness that made you stronger, that makes you more beautiful. So in comparison, I like to take old broken objects (i.e. old tarnished spoons, worn out leather belts, broken rosaries, etc. etc.) and turn them into something beautiful. Everything I recover was once new and attractive and like so many of us the world has broken them. Just because things are broken, doesn’t mean they are not beautiful…they are in fact, beautifully broken.
How did you come to realize your talent in jewelry design and creation?
Like so many other artisans, I've dabbled in everything. I've always had a creative eye. As a child I loved to draw. I took every art elective I could in high school, and before my son came along had plans to attend the art institute in California. The whole "jewelry thing" actually happened by accident.
I worked for nearly 15 years in the banking industry. Being a single mom, the majority of my income was spent supporting my kids with not must left over. I always looked to my creative nature at the holidays and made handmade gifts from my friends and family. In 2008 I bought supplies to make hand-stamped necklaces for gifts from Christmas that year, in 2009-2010 I started making pieces here and there for gifts and taking small orders for friends and family. But in 2011 when I opened an Etsy shop, I received my very first order of a 1000 piece bulk order from an organization called Cancer and Careers based in NYC. Things seemed to take off from there. I spent the next two years working full time at the bank and then coming home and working until 2 or 3 in the morning on jewelry orders. (all this in-between raising to very active children) Finally, in 2012, I retired from the banking business and took the leap of faith and begin working on my jewelry business full time.
What was the first piece of jewelry you ever made? How have your designs evolved?
My first pieces were very simple, ordinary hand-stamped necklaces on regular round metal tags. I believe when I finally experienced the freedom of being able to live this dream full time, and actually have it support me, I began to also branch out and experiment with other methods and really let my creativity take over. Today I feel like there is much more "me" in my jewelry than there was in the earlier years.
What kinds of jewelry have you created? Which is your favorite and why?
I've always loved to draw, so when I started branching out in the metal etching, it really gave me a chance to merge that into my jewelry making, such as the Nashville skyline necklace below. These are, by far, my favorite to make. I also have a deep love of random quotes so some of my all-time favorite pieces that I have made (and love to keep and wear) are simply because of the meaningful quote inscripted on them. For example, an old tarnished spoon, flattened and hand stamped with "strongest in the broken places" on a worn out old leather belt converted into a cuff bracelet, is a piece that you'll seldom see me out and about not wearing.
What has been your most touching or amazing moment as a jewelry designer and creator?.
I have had the pleasure to hear some of the most beautiful, as well as heart breaking stories over the last 8 years. To have a mother come to you after losing a child and ask you to make a piece of jewelry in remembrance, or to be given a grandmother's old set of flatware to create something for the family, or even create a piece of jewelry to help a young man propose to his girlfriend. The list is so very long, I could never recount them all, but I love being in the business of making meaningful art. It is very humbling to be a part of so many other peoples "story".
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
You're going to fail. ive had really great years, but ive had really bad as well. The most important lesson is to never give up. Believe in yourself and the power of your dream.
Terri also currently creates jewelry for over 25 wholesale venues across the United States. Within the state of Tennessee, you can purchase her items at The Burlap Bunny (808 Tusculum Blvd., Greeneville TN), Loralei's (located in the Knoxville center mall in Knoxville, TN), and Tess's Treasures (located in Murfreesboro, TN). Her items are also available at SHOP 615 as well as Amazon.
Everyone please show Terri some love and check out the rest of her items on her website. I'm all about supporting LOCAL.
Etsy Shop : www.sobeautifullybroken.etsy.com
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/sobeautifullybrokenjewelry/
Instagram: @terriellenburg #sobeautifullybrokenjewelry
Thank you Terri for taking time out of your schedule to talk with me and let us all in on the story of you. I love that your creations come straight from the heart. Thanks for sharing your gift with the world!!