Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev

Steel to Sharpen Steel with Brie Flora

October 17, 2022 Kosta Yepifantsev Season 2 Episode 39
Steel to Sharpen Steel with Brie Flora
Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
More Info
Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
Steel to Sharpen Steel with Brie Flora
Oct 17, 2022 Season 2 Episode 39
Kosta Yepifantsev

Join Kosta and his guest: Brie Flora, Artist, Jeweler, Educator, Gallery Manager for Fiddlehead Gallery at The Silver Fern and Vice President of Art Round TN.

In This Episode: How artists and small business owners can scale and curate their craft to be more marketable, the value of supporting local artists and the difference in what you’re really buying, how Art Round TN is growing the development of artists in Middle Tennessee.

Visit Fiddlehead Gallery at The Silver Fern 
Address: 145 E Spring St, Cookeville, TN 38501

Current Exhibition: "Apocalypse Now" a solo exhibition of paintings by local artist Dax van Aalten running 9/29/2022 - 10/ 29/2022

Closing Reception/Silver Fern "Halloween" Party: 10/29/2022.

Upcoming Exhibition: Justin Blackmon will have a solo exhibit of his paintings on display for the whole month of November alongside Art Round TN's Art Prowl: 11/11/22 - 11/12/22.

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

Find out more about  Brie Flora, The Silver Fern, and Art Round TN:
https://www.brieflora.com/
https://www.thesilverfernshop.com/
https://www.artroundtennessee.com/

Find out more about Kosta and all the ways we're better together:
http://kostayepifantsev.com/

Show Notes Transcript

Join Kosta and his guest: Brie Flora, Artist, Jeweler, Educator, Gallery Manager for Fiddlehead Gallery at The Silver Fern and Vice President of Art Round TN.

In This Episode: How artists and small business owners can scale and curate their craft to be more marketable, the value of supporting local artists and the difference in what you’re really buying, how Art Round TN is growing the development of artists in Middle Tennessee.

Visit Fiddlehead Gallery at The Silver Fern 
Address: 145 E Spring St, Cookeville, TN 38501

Current Exhibition: "Apocalypse Now" a solo exhibition of paintings by local artist Dax van Aalten running 9/29/2022 - 10/ 29/2022

Closing Reception/Silver Fern "Halloween" Party: 10/29/2022.

Upcoming Exhibition: Justin Blackmon will have a solo exhibit of his paintings on display for the whole month of November alongside Art Round TN's Art Prowl: 11/11/22 - 11/12/22.

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

Find out more about  Brie Flora, The Silver Fern, and Art Round TN:
https://www.brieflora.com/
https://www.thesilverfernshop.com/
https://www.artroundtennessee.com/

Find out more about Kosta and all the ways we're better together:
http://kostayepifantsev.com/

Brie Flora:

As artists need to learn business because they learn all these skills, and they get really good at art, and then they're like, oh, go fly the nest, leave college and then do something with that. But then no one knows how to talk about themselves. No one knows how to sell themselves. And unfortunately, that's what we have to do.

Morgan Franklin:

Welcome to Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev, a podcast on parenting business and living life intentionally. We're here every week to bring you thoughtful conversation on making your own path to success, challenging the status quo, and finding all the ways we're better together. Here's your host, Kosta Yepifantsev

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Hey, y'all. This is Kosta. And today, I'm here with my guest Bri flora, artist, jeweler, educator, gallery manager for fiddlehead gallery at the Silver Fern, and vice president of art round Tennessee. Today we're talking about Brees career as an artist and entrepreneur, growing a community nurtured by public art, and how to market your work to create a sustainable income brief for anyone that doesn't know you graduated in 2015. from Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a dual degree in metalsmithing. Plus jewelry and art education. Tell us about selecting that program. And what motivated you to pursue this path.

Brie Flora:

It's a mouthful, isn't it?

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah, itis a lot. It's a very interesting selection.

Brie Flora:

Because it's like metalsmithing andjewelry. And that's one major and then the other one. Yeah. Oh, gosh. So I always knew that I wanted to go to art school that Okay, first foremost, I was drawing on my self in the walls when I was little. So like, paint that picture? Sure. Like I said, before we started I grew up mostly in Massachusetts. We moved there when I was in second grade. I heard of RISD, which was in that's in Rhode Island. And I think it was a middle school and I got on MySpace. And I literally crept hard to find people, college students that were in RISD to be like, Hi, I really want to go to the school one day, like, how can I get into RISD? Blah, blah, blah, and as like a seventh grader, and I remember talking, finally getting in touch with this one girl who was like, I think, a painter at RISD. And so she kind of told me, Well, you need to work on this portfolio, you need to do this and that. So like, from seventh and eighth grade, I was like, Okay, gotta get into high school and work on my portfolio and do this thing. So I always thought I was going to do illustration. I went to this, like portfolio review day that happened to be at Mass art, because it was the closest art college to me, and I waited and a four hour line to meet with the RISD representatives. And it went horribly. Oh, they were really rude and kind of like, I felt like my dreams were shot. I like worked on this portfolio for like, years. This was like, in my head. They're, like one of the, you know, nothing against RISD. And I know, some professors there and, you know, people who went there, and it was a great school, I get it, like they're weeding out, you know, the people, but it was like, intense. And so it was so sad. And I was like, Well, I wasted the whole day waiting here. And like, I'm gonna try, I guess, but then the mass art line was like, low, like, there weren't a lot of people in line. Also, there the school hosting, I think a lot of people were excited to talk to colleges that came there that weren't, you know, in the area, and I went up there, and I talked to them. And they focused on the same exact pieces that needed work as the Rizzy ones, but they talked to me about it, okay. And they were like, you know, this part of this drawing of this tree or whatever it was, is great. But then what about, you know, this kind of loses perspective, have you ever considered working with like mixing these colors or whatever, they gave me feedback, which I was like, okay, they care, they care about me. And even if I like, this isn't a great piece, like they're giving me feedback as to how to make it better.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

How do you pivot from like, illustrations, which just so that everybody understands? And correct me if I'm wrong. Illustrations is like drawings, right? Yeah, it's drawing. Okay. So like, how do you pivot from drawing to jewelry and metalworking? Yeah, it's kind of intense right long. You

Brie Flora:

know, I applied there early. And that's the only school I applied to and I got in so I went and freshman year at MassArt. You don't declare your major yet. I think that's true for a lot of places. And then you take a bunch of classes, and then there's end of the year you do it. And I found printmaking because I was like, Oh, cool. It's it's like illustration, but it's different. You're working with these different processes. And I loved the copper plates and etching, copper etching, so I signed up to be a printmaking major. And then that summer, I took a class a summer class, and I worked as well. I moved immediately moved downtown. So I was in the dorms, freshman year, found an apartment with friends. We moved in June of 2010. And then, yeah, I went to summer classes, and I worked. So I took that and I was like, wow, this is really fun, like printmaking. It's so cool, but I had this Bernal I still have it to this day a little bit of like impostor syndrome, like, oh, I can't do this blah, blah, blah. And I was like, man, like, what am I gonna do with my life like I not all of a sudden I got scared. I was like, I can't do this. I can't be a printmaking artist and make a living and oh my god. And so I called up my parents. And I was like, Hey, I'm still interested in maybe taking some of these classes. But I think I'm going to do art education, so I can assure that I have a job.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

What is art education, like in terms of a career? What did they do with art education? So

Brie Flora:

looking back at it now, I wish I had looked into it further, because there were different sectors of art education, there's the teacher track, right? There's a museum education, and then like community education. Okay, I wish I had done museum education, which focuses a little bit more on like galleries and museums, and just like a general education for the like, population, whereas teacher track is K through 12. Yeah, and that's what I did. And I don't really, I don't know. Clearly,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I'll be honest with you. I was gonna say this until later in the episode, but it's perfect. I only failed one class in high school. And it was hard.

Brie Flora:

Yeah. Well, you didn't have a good teacher then,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I must have not I, you know, honestly, like for me, and that, I mean, obviously, like, it takes a very special person to enjoy art, but it takes like a very special person, probably point 1% of people that excel in it. I think the process of creating art is messy. And I lose confidence once I start the process, because like a blank piece of paper looks beautiful to me,

Brie Flora:

Don't use a blank piece of paper.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Well, I see that and that like concept in my mind, just I don't even know what to do with that, you know, so every time I get started on a project, I'd immediately lose confidence, like within the first like five minutes, and then it'd be like, this is all trash. I'm not even I'm not even engaged.

Brie Flora:

It makes you feel better. It still happens to me like that same thing. sketchbooks kind of freaked me out. I know. We're getting off on a tangent and Oh, please. It's interesting. Yeah. I mean, it's something where I have so many sketchbooks, and a lot of them aren't full, or I'll start like seven pages in I don't ever want to touch the first page. But I don't know if

Kosta Yepifantsev:

that's like, it's great. For like kind of an artist or like

Brie Flora:

I'll do sketches on just random pieces of paper. Okay. Yeah, I'm actually in the midst right now. So just to bring it full circle. I did do so I did art education until I was an I finished it. But when I was a junior, so with art education, you have to take two two Ds which is like drawing painting that sort of thing. What you would know is 2d art to 3d. So ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, things like that. And then media. So film sound something like that. So you know, I got to play with like old school film cameras and learn how to splice stuff together. Like I can't tell you much about it. But I have respect for that now. And then yeah, I took a jewelry class. And the semester before that I had taken ceramics, which I do love. I love ceramics one day, I just want to get a wheel so I can play just that's more of like a hobby. And I had never thought in my life of jewelry as even an option or metal smithing, I should say as an option. Because right now I make more jewelry. But I do consider myself more of a metalsmith slash artists. And then I do a jeweler even though I make a lot of jewelry, okay. And it was just so cool. I was like, Oh my God, you can make something so hard, do whatever you want, right? But then I was like, Man, I found this thing that I love when I'm a junior in college. And I have a year and a half left. Because I did. It's four and a half years for education for the student teaching semester. But the head of the department at the time, Joe wood, he's retired now, and I still keep in touch with him. He was like, You need to switch majors. And I was like, I mean, I love jewelry and metalsmithing but I am a junior like I can't drop all of that. And at the time, unfortunately, hopefully they'll never hear it. Listen to this, but some of my professors and art Ed were like, well, we don't really support double majoring. They just didn't because it is a lot of work. And they were like you should just have a focus in it. And I was like, but then that what that leaves me like one semester to focus on jewelry, like I don't want to do that. So I just did it. And I asked my parents because I'm lucky they helped me through college and helped pay for college. They were like if you really think that this is what you want to do, then we'll support you so I'm very lucky in that and I said I still want to finish both degrees. I think it'll be useful. So I took a break from Arden I just stopped for a minute and jumped right into jewelry metal smithing and then I actually finished I actually technically graduated from my jewelry metal smithing degree first and then I had my final semester where I did a couple night classes and I student taught at a call at a high school nearby. So yeah, it was six years I went to undergrad congratulation ish both degrees. I am kind of proud of this was super nice. Earlier when I like was graduating people were like, you know that you have some of the most credits from anyone that's ever graduated from this school because I took summer classes every year because I was like, I want to take everything. I love school. Yeah. So

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Can I ask a little off topic? Like, what was it like going to college in Boston?

Brie Flora:

It was fun. Yeah,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

it was fun in the city, too.

Brie Flora:

Yeah, we're right in the corner of like Longwood, which is the financial district. That's where like Children's Hospital is and everything. And right down the road. It's like you're surrounded by colleges. So BU is across town, but we have Northeastern Wentworth Emanuel just every Yeah, it's a college town.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So you're getting a degree in art. And obviously, you have, you know, business mind, because I looked at your website, it's very beautifully laid out. And you're obviously selling jewelry. But I am curious, like, were you planning on making a living? If it wasn't in teaching, were you thinking like, okay, like, I can do this, or in the back of your mind where you like, I don't know how I can monetize an art degree.

Brie Flora:

I'm still figuring. I think a lot of artists, especially when you some people get lucky, right? And they just like, especially now with Instagram, it's like they just hit it. And they have these drops, right? Where they're just selling out. And within minutes. I mean, I have people I fall where I'm like, Oh, my God, I want this thing. And I like wait, and then I try and get it and it's everything sells out in five minutes. I mean, congratulations. That's amazing. But that is not what most artists deal with. So I do not. Right now. I'm not making a living solely off of selling my work. Absolutely not. I work part time for a nonprofit that is in Massachusetts, where I used to teach and do stuff there. When I lived up there, I facilitate online workshops. And I teach online workshops. I'm starting to teach more, and then I help them with social media and marketing.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Nice. What's your website that you sell your jewelry on?

Brie Flora:

Mine is just brief. laura.com Okay, so that's my general gist. That's my website. And then there's the silver fern. shop.com. Okay. And we do have an online store there. It's growing, because it's just me, so I have only worked on it so much. So I have that I have the out the shop, but I don't get paid for anything. silverfern right now. Okay. We're not at that point. Yeah, I

Kosta Yepifantsev:

see. Yeah. And silverfern is by the MMA place on spring. Yeah. 145 East Spring Street. Fantastic. All right, let's talk about the local art community. So you've entrenched yourself in the local art community, you're helping to grow and spearhead the development of artists in Middle Tennessee. Talk about art round Tennessee, and your work as vice president of their board.

Brie Flora:

Sure. It's funny. It's like I started 2021. I joined around. And I will say this, I'm vice president, and I've never really I think I've missed one meeting. But I as a vice president, it's like, Oh, it sounds like I have more to do with what's going on than I actually do. I will say it's very much a group effort. Justin Blackmon is our President right now. And I'll say he's an amazing president. And he's done a lot. This last year, he was great at organizing things. Making things happen. We now have brandy who is my co the co owner at the silverfern and Cassie, they work on the First Fridays that have been happening. So we have that committee and volunteer and then Emma Levitz, who I mentioned before, I think we started and then Jen Luna gendlin as the executive director, and Emma is like house forget her title, because it's been up in the air. But her and Jen are at the same level. They just do different jobs. Right. So like she works on the website. And she just does a lot they both do so much. She does all the Emma does all the grants, she applies for all the grants that we get, and they are not on the board. They are the input like they are employed. What is

Kosta Yepifantsev:

like the mission of all around like, what are you guys trying to accomplish for Tennessee, she

Brie Flora:

read it straight off the website, because I'll disappoint everyone. But I'll say in my words, like, we want to create opportunity. So of course, the last 20 years, because I think last year was the 20th anniversary, and it's about bringing to light the artists that are here, um, because there's a ton Oh, yeah. And giving them opportunities to sell their work and show their work. And now I think there's a little bit of a turnover on the board. There's new people, right, like I'm new, I'm not even from here, and neither is Emma. Jen is Jen grew up here. And so she has a lot of ties. So there's like a mix of people who have been in Cookeville their whole life. And then there's people who are new to Cookeville and bringing in new ideas. And I know that Jen and Emma are working on another thing that we want to put on next year, which will be more of like information so like sort of like a seminar for artists, so people to come talk business in relation to art and things like that. The First Fridays bringing that back this year. They had done it a few years ago but our Prowl, right? That's like the big one. It happens the second weekend of November every single year that Friday and Saturday, and it's just about giving artists An opportunity to sell their work because it's, I mean, I guess in a small town too, right? It's like, How does someone start? Sure. Now we're lucky because we're a college town. But even then, so our

Kosta Yepifantsev:

leadership Putnam group, there's four of us. We just did the mural and Baxter, and they had a ribbon cutting during the Fall Harvest Festival this past weekend. And just seeing how proud people are of that mural. And Manny, is the person that painted it. He's from Salina. He's painted a lot of the murals around here, but it's interesting when you talk about the business of art, and how people can find their niche. And man, He sure has found his niche because he works with municipal governments. And he paints murals. I mean, yeah, like one and two, he's not gonna He's not going to sway from what he knows and what he's good at. And it was interesting, and it was very impressive watching him talk about his career and how he's grown his career. The whole point that I'm trying to make is, as you're talking about art Prowl, and as you're talking about bringing education to artists, about how they can break career, how hard has it been for you to just get to like, step one?

Brie Flora:

Yeah. I mean, like, my dad was a sales guy. Okay. I did not follow in his footsteps. But I think I probably got a little bit of that from him and your jokes, he goes, Well, you're a salesperson, you gotta go to art craft shows and sell your work, and you got to talk it up. But it is uncomfortable, right. And it's like, I went to art school, I didn't go to business school. Artists need to learn business, because they learn all these skills, and they get really good at art. And then they're like, who go fly the nest, leave college, and then do something with that. But then no one knows how to talk about themselves. No one knows how to sell themselves. And unfortunately, that's what we have to do. So yeah, I think part of I will say what what I like being a part of with around Tennessee, and part of what I'm trying to do at the silver fern is create opportunities for people to kind of fail or not fail, but like to have a little bit of failure. I mean, I won't name names, but I've had some artists in town, like they bring in work and the quality is not great, right? And I'll be like, well, this might break. It's good, but you want to bring this back and fix it. And we have had certain things like that junk over. Certainly I will, I'll put it in the shop. You know, I have like a range of things. And then we've they've learned from that. And they've they've grown from that. And they figured out pricing, I help people price their work, which is crazy to me because I still struggle with pricing my own work, but everybody under prices is under prices themselves. So it's like I had a few people in my life. When I was in college, put some professors Moni grant court who was a jeweler I worked for she was a mentor to like learn those things from right because I don't necessarily learn it in school in class, you learn it from experience,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

you know, it's it's easier though. And I'm not going to put words in your mouth. But I think sales selling, whether it's yourself or your product is an art and you need to be kind of have a creative mind because it's like a mixture of acting. Because like what you do when you watch like Netflix before you go to bed, it may be like your true self. Sorry, I'm projecting. But the acting part is what people want when they're buying something. Obviously, your product has to be very good. But yeah, the point that I'm trying to make is because you have kind of this artistic and creative side to you, you're probably going to be able to be a better salesman and pick it up faster than most people.

Brie Flora:

I don't know if that's always true, though, please.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

We'll expand on that though. What makes it hard for you

Brie Flora:

artists are weird. We're all weird, right? We're a bunch of weirdos and sometimes, you know, I think I'm okay at it. It gives me immense anxiety because it is an acting thing. I also was a waitress.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Nice. Did you like that? No. How long did you last? Three, four years? Oh, wow. Yeah. only lasted three days. So Oh, yeah, I'm there. Yeah,

Brie Flora:

I worked at the country club at TCC. It's the first country club in America. It was crazy. Yeah. But that being said, it's like you have to be waiters. They're actors. Right? You have to you have to put on a front. Yeah. So that's all that's exhausting. And I will say some people even as creative as they are right. But creative brains. Sometimes you'll be in your studio. But how do you translate? Yeah, it's not true for everyone. Yeah. And that's not a bad thing. Interesting. And that's why galleries exist. Yeah. Because not everyone can sell their own work. Oh, that's

Kosta Yepifantsev:

a good point. Because they are like creative in their space. But when they leave like their their nest, it's a totally different

Brie Flora:

craft shows. And that's where you're meeting the actual artist and sometimes not. But mostly I'd say 90% You're meeting the artist, a gallery. You're not meeting the artist. You're meeting the gallery owner.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So let's talk about being a small business owner and kind of scaling like do you feel at this point, you are scaling and curating your craft to be marketable, and how do other artists kind of follow in your footsteps?

Brie Flora:

That's such a hard question. Um, I am always trying to figure that out within my own work, right, let me just talk about just marketing, my artwork, I am trying to get back into drawing. And some of that is drawing on metal with a powder coating process that I do, then some of it is just sterling silver. Still, I'm getting back into that. Because the powder coating the color work that you've probably saw on my website that's 233 ish years old, very new.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I thought it was beautiful.

Brie Flora:

Thank you. But I'm, I'm a little squirrely and like the way I work and so I have a few different bodies of work. So I have, you know, the silver work, which is still funky, it's still me, but it's a little more refined, like maybe a classier and higher priced thing. And then there's the fun sort of floral shapes and powdercoated work. And now I have my newer work, like my art jewelry, and which is what I feel most passionate about at times, which is either sculptural, mostly brooches, and they are illustrated, so I'm wearing one right now. And they're just fun. I just don't really have to like, think about it being worn, right? So that's like, Okay, I have a facet of myself. It's like, you have to make jewelry. You're a jeweler, and you have to sell it. But then my true self comes out. And I'm like, well, in undergrad, I was making sculptural stuff that just rested on the body, like it was sculpture, but it related to the body. So I'm an artist who's using jewelry as a means to try and make work just as I'm trying to teach my workshops. Yeah, both of those are income right in my head. So my jewelry is still art, but it's not what I joy or love doing. That's not where I feel most creative, okay, because I'm still thinking about someone else. So when I'm marketing those things, like how do I like they're all together? Asking me, you know, this is just like a, you know, the, the Royal how, right? And I think it's just, it sounds corny, but like, Instagram sucks, right? Like, it just sucks. And we all have to do it right. And I used to let it get to me, like if I made something that I really liked, and I'd post it and they'd be like, Oh, literally 25 likes great. Like, no one's seeing this, what the heck, or no one likes it. Yeah. And now I'm just like, oh, I don't care anymore. I'm just gonna stay consistent. I'm gonna post whatever I want. And I think for artists, unfortunately, it's like, Don't get caught up in that, like, be good. And get yourself in a schedule, like either post once a week. And that's what you're doing or post three days a week. If you want to do videos, do videos and stick to that. But I would say do whatever you want to be consistent about it

Kosta Yepifantsev:

is like social media and Instagram and Pinterest and Etsy. I mean, are those the mediums that you primarily use to sell your product? I don't

Brie Flora:

use Etsy. Okay. I know some people that do I just, I just personally don't, I didn't like the look of it. And I think it's full of not just art anymore. It's not just handmade anymore. So I didn't want to be in all of that. And then you're competing with a lot of people. And then they do take a cut, right? And it's just I don't I wanted to full control. So like my website is Squarespace and I use their design things. So I'm on Squarespace, being part of things like art round Tennessee, right? I'm on their website Society of North American Goldsmith, that's shortened to snag. I'm a member, and I'm also on their directory. And then you just have to get yourself out there. Right, right. So you go to craft shows, go to craft shows, talk about your work. Yeah, try and get into galleries, if you're into teaching workshops, teach workshops, but yeah, Instagram, in my opinion, and unfortunately, tick tock now, great ways of marketing yourself

Kosta Yepifantsev:

and inexpensive ways. You don't have to travel. You know, you just have to make a video right time is money. There you go. I think it's important for people that are listening that want to have a career as an artist to really understand how many different avenues you're taking. It's a hustle. Yeah, just so that somebody will say, Oh, yeah, I like those earrings. I'm gonna put those in our in our store. Yeah, you know, which I think is essentially, you know, when you think of something like, Pardon my ignorance, but like Brighton, right, I mean, obviously, it's jewelry, and it gained popularity. And is that kind of like

Brie Flora:

Brighton. That's right. Oh, it's,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I only know it because my mother in law buys at all time.

Brie Flora:

It's like kinda like Pandora. Kind of Yeah. Okay.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I have a great story on Pandora. If we have time. I want to tell I'm gonna read it here. Okay, so let's talk about your jewelry specific. Okay, before we do though, I do want to ask, Why are art galleries? And specifically like when you go on vacation and they sell all those pictures and paintings? Why are they so expensive like 10 have 1000s of dollars for pictures and paintings, like photographs. Yeah, kind of, you know, like you go to Key West and there's galleries everywhere. Expensive,

Brie Flora:

some are worth it. Some are not, I'll say that, you know, it's like, it's just is what it is. It's sort of like the, you know, the banana with tape on the wall that went for what? Almost a million dollars or whatever it was. Art is crazy in that sense. Um, paintings, paintings and photographs. Well, I don't do paintings and photographs. It's hard to say I have my wall. I have two uncles who are painters. It is time. And it is materials. But I will say this, the gallery market. It's a love hate relationship, because I obviously I'm a gallery manager now. But you know, it's new. It's not like a big gallery or anything. But something to know when you go into any store like that, like so we were saying before, you know, artists, a lot of artists don't sell their own work. So that's a gallery. Okay. Well, they don't make all that money. They just get a cut, they get a cut, or did they sell 50%? Really? Yeah. Wow, most galleries most times, if unless you are buying directly from an artist, that artist is getting 50% of that number. Sometimes they get 60%. Sometimes they'll get 70%. It just depends on the deal. And then you know, there's wholesale, that's a whole other thing. And even then Wholesale is usually 50%. So

Kosta Yepifantsev:

do you ever buy paintings or gallery? Like I have never

Brie Flora:

bought I have bought ceramics from a gallery before. Everything I've bought from a gallery has been under or at$100 About because I'm not rolling in the dough. And all of my awesome artwork that I have is a trades with other artists. Nice.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So last question, and then we're gonna get back to it. Sure. Have you ever considered looking at say, for example, at Restoration Hardware, okay, and this is just my own personal preferences. So you're probably thinking like, this guy doesn't know what art is. But like, Have you ever thought about just creating the pieces like you were talking about sculpting and they have those busts that they create in those like pieces of block that they I guess cheese? Well, maybe maybe it's more on here, you know, but I'm just saying like, Have you ever thought about just making and selling that because I mean people like literally, like you said sculpting I immediately thought like, man, it'd be cool to have like a stone bust in like an office. You know, like, like your Yeah, like my dog. Well, that's an urn, actually. So, full disclosure, I had a black Doberman that died named Pasha and we bought a Doberman head. You can see it on the now or never podcast when we record it's usually behind me on YouTube on my YouTube channel, and we put his ashes inside of there.

Brie Flora:

I have a necklace with my dogs, Ashley.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I love that. So anyway, the point I'm trying to make is why not like Target exactly what you know people want.

Brie Flora:

That is a lot harder. Okay. It

Kosta Yepifantsev:

is okay. Yeah.

Brie Flora:

Well, I mean, trying to like, that's a man. I mean, yeah, you could make what you think everyone wants, then that's a soul sucking for the artists because, like, think about everything that artists does. It's part of them. Just like we all have a little bit of impostor syndrome. Every artists a little narcissistic. I mean, you have to admit that like, we're not narcissists, but we have narcissistic tendencies. I will say, some might disagree with me, but like you're making art. Right? Right. You're putting something into the world that didn't exist before. So why make something that everyone already wants? It just doesn't? That doesn't make sense to me. I mean, that is part of my thought of like, some of the jewelry I do being like, Okay, this is still me. But then how do I make this thing and this is what I hate? How do I make this wanted by many? It's a balance, you gotta find that in school. I had more mass art. And honestly, I feel happy I do. I'm happy about this. I had a lot about craft. So basic craft, I had to learn how to like make my own tubing, make my own hinges, totally everything from scratch, like nothing I make is pre bought. Everything comes from wire, or she or I melt something down. So I feel so lucky. I learned those skills. And then next to that it was all about the concept. Yeah, the art side of things. So a lot of it was not about selling or thinking about the customer. It was more interest in art based. Yeah, so

Kosta Yepifantsev:

not how to create a successful art business. But that's a mean, I guess that's something that you learn outside of school. Now, on your website. Your earrings range anywhere from 65 to $185. And I think it's important for people to know when they could go on Amazon and purchase a pair of earrings for say, five to $15 why it's valuable to support local artists and the difference in what they're actually buying. Yeah,

Brie Flora:

I like to be really candid about prices. So the cheapest thing I've ever sold that I've made myself with is$20 and the most expensive thing I've ever sold was 1200. Nice. And not everything I make is on my website right now because I'm just like I said before juggling a lot of jobs and after the pandemic, things have just been nuts. I'm slowly but surely getting everything on there. Yeah. I was thinking about this this morning. I was trying to think more about it, because we could talk about this for a whole hour. Sure. So sustainable fashion, right? That's like, really in right now. It's the same idea. But I think it's a little bit easier to think about it in the perspective of an artist. So as a society, people are trying to buy clothing more sustainable, but a lot of it is still coming from these big companies, and they're using these words, and even then you still don't know what you're buying sometimes. Well, if you buy from an artist, you know exactly what you're buying. Absolutely. The jewelry you can get from Amazon or anywhere else or even at some of these, like fashion companies. Like if it's gold, it's not real gold a lot of the times or it's plated, you know, some of these places are it's plated or gold filled or things like that. But where are they getting the metal from? Are they mining it?

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Not ethically? Yeah, like a conflict territory or making it

Brie Flora:

right? Yeah, I worked for a company in Nashville. I'm not going to say the name. Their idea is good. It's about supporting women. And a lot of the women who worked in the Nashville spot with me, we're coming out of like, bad situations, right? So they're learning this skill, and getting paid pretty well. I had to push for like, ventilation, I had to push for proper tools. So they're not hurting themselves. I was like, this is like an ocean nightmare. And that was a company that wanted to do good, right? Yeah. And by the time I left them, and they they're in a much better place now. But it was still just kind of like sketch,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

is it? Because they had to have such a low price point to sell their jewelry, or sell their product? Is that why they did

Brie Flora:

it? Frank? It's like, everybody wants to be the cool thing, right? Yeah. So all these fashion companies, they're like, well, if we're gonna have clothes, we also have to have jewelry. And then we have to this line of jewelry, and we're going to be sustainable. And we're going to be doing this for women. And it's like, all these positive good things. But in reality, it's hard to do that. And it's hard to do that, right? I don't have an answer or like a full opinion about that. But they asked if I wanted to design for them. And I was like, no, not an absolutely not, I will help train the new people. And then I'll take your designs, and I'll make prototypes. I worked for them from home. And I would make like 100 units of jewelry a week, if not more. So it was like a ring with a bar on it. And that sort of stuff like boring, whatever, what you were kind of saying before what everybody wants

Kosta Yepifantsev:

such new.

Brie Flora:

But like, you know, so there's stuff like that. So it's like when you think about what you're buying, and all of that was still like their price points, those that stuff was cheaper. Yeah. Why? Because you had like 10 women making it in an assembly line. But still not properly. Like they honestly weren't properly getting paid, in my opinion. And it's not sustainable. And some of them were feeling sick. And then they were like their burgers were green because they're sanding brass all day or like, you know, and stuff like that. And and I kept saying like, Yeah, I mean, I deal with that my own studio because I'm one person and I know the risks. And I have masks and I don't have proper ventilation right now, but I have a respirator and I can do this, this and that. And it's my body. I'm not forcing other people to do this. So the price thing is truly about the artists time. Is it one of a kind, is it not one of a kind and think about this like you go to school right for like say you're a doctor and you go you do this many years, then you go get your Masters and you go get a doctorate degree and you got to pay off all those loans you put in the time, I had a man come up to me at a craft show once being like it was I think a necklace and it was like $800 And he was like, why is this $800 I could get this online and he was just being really rude. And I was in a sassy mood that day. But I was just kind of like well look like I went to college. Yeah, I put in my time. I was an unpaid intern for six months and then I got that job and I worked my way up. How long do you think this took me to make sure it's sweat equity? Right? And then also how much silver do you think is here right now let's weigh that out. How much time do you think I put into my marketing how much money I spend on boxes, packaging, everything it because most artists are everything right? So like even with the silver fern, we paid a local artist Jesse Phil to to design our logo for us. But other than that, Brandi and I do everything, so I do everything. silverfern I do everything for myself. I work part time for a nonprofit. I volunteer for a number I'm on the board of a nonprofit. So it's like, you know, yeah, yeah, no, I for someone's job because I don't have a salary. I don't have health insurance. I have health insurance. I have to pay for it right and it's crazy.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So when you were Making 100 pieces of jewelry working for that company in Nashville. How many pieces do you typically feel comfortable making in you feel like you're putting out your best product and best effort without just like blowing up? Yeah,

Brie Flora:

it depends on what I'm making. Okay, I used to hand pierced, which means HANSOL HANSOL. Okay, everything. So like all those floral pieces go on my website. And you know, it's the kind of this like abstract flower, all those negative spaces, I would drill the holes feed through the tiny little sawblade and handsaw everything, I have three bulging discs in my neck and a old shoulder injury. So I was like, I can't keep doing this, right. And I also missed doing that more one of a kind stuff. So I did start laser cutting, I made a file of all my designs of those types of designs. And I use a company called Send, cut, send, and I can get them laser cut. So they're rough cut, but they're all cut. So I usually have to like stand them down, I still do all the soldering and I powder coat everything at home, I have a try powder coat setup. So some of my prices of that work dropped a bit, okay, and people told me not to do that they were like, don't drop your prices. And I was like, Look, I want people to be able to buy my work. And this is allowing me to make you know, my silver work again, or like the brooches I've been doing that are more one of kind that will range from 100 to$2,000. Right. So like, make my art stuff, anything that's like$800 or more honestly, a lot of artists are like I'm making this, but I don't know when I'm gonna sell it. I'm not like banking on this selling. It's an art piece that I really want to make. And if it sells that's amazing. That's how I think about it. Absolutely.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

We did a podcast when we first started with a lady who focused on sustainable fashion. And she was essentially talking against fast fashion. Yeah. And so you kind of have bring the perspective of sustainable jewelry.

Brie Flora:

It's a dormant, it's fashion, right? Let's steal that perfect.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So I mean, what do you think society needs to do to pivot away from $5 earrings on Amazon that look like $15,000 You know, earrings, because I'll be honest with you when I was a kid, like I bought those $5 rocks, and I put them in my ear and I'd Pearson and and to walk around. So like what do you how do you do that?

Brie Flora:

Education? Also, I don't want to knock that stuff. Because at the same time, it's like rights privilege, right? Not everyone can afford this stuff. So there's the understanding of that. And that then creates a very different conversation about privilege and what's going on in our country right

Kosta Yepifantsev:

now. We could spend a whole nother podcast talking about a knock.

Brie Flora:

Like I have friends that buy you know, cheap jewelry. I'm not offended by that. Not every not my work is not for everyone. And you know if somebody questions the price and is rude about it, sometimes I'll say Well, hey, I can't even afford my own work. But this is this is my work. And yeah, it's such a conversation. It's such a hard one. And then there's the you know, kids too, it's like are you going to discourage a kid if they want to use their allowance to express themselves? I've bought really cheap fun made brooches or earrings by certain artists or crafts people right? Like maybe they don't have the same background as me but truly the quality maybe isn't as nice maybe it'll fall apart in a year or two. But if I look at it, and it makes me laugh, or it makes me smile, I'm gonna buy it right. So I don't know it's such an it's such a I think it's society it's education. So they at least know what they're doing right? You know what you're doing you know what you're doing when you're ordering towels from Amazon versus this was hand woven, blah blah blah but like not everyone can do that. Right?

Kosta Yepifantsev:

50% of Americans can't even afford a$400 emergency expense. So I mean, they probably aren't going to be buying you know, $200 earrings

Brie Flora:

which we could talk about the silverfern in that way because Brandi and I want to a support artists and makers and small businesses because it's not just art in there. It's also handcrafted wellness. So brandy brings the wellness side I bring the art side we do have some CBD tinctures we have just like SAVs and we have skincare we have small batch skincare. We've got loose leaf tea and herbs and things like that. And it is all ethic that's our mission. Like everything in here is handmade and ethically sourced. So yeah, not everyone is going to come to us for a card or a print or a cup right? Because it's probably maybe a little bit more expensive than some other places. There are some other awesome stores in town that are great boutiques that you can get gifts but let me tell you what not all of that is made in America, if not all of it is not made in the American Yeah, so this is all 50% is made either in Cookeville or in surrounding areas. Nice. So you're supporting us as a small business, but you're also supporting many artists, or it's people I've just met doing shows around the country. So some people, I went to school with some people I met at craft shows, and I got their card, and I reached out to them, and that is consignment.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So as you're talking, I'm picking up on all of the things that you're involved in. I'm trying to like quantify the amount of time that it probably takes you to do all of these things. And I'm starting to like run out of available time. In my head. After this podcast, you're about to travel to a craft show. I'd like to kind of ask you about the emotional toll that it takes the feeling of kind of overwhelming pressure, and how does that affect your ability to be creative and design new things on a daily basis?

Brie Flora:

Yeah, it really affects it at times, pandemic, man, I got depressed, I will fully admit that some artists were like, well, I'm home. I'm just going to make work. My studio is at my house. And I tried for a while and I did some Instagram sales. I was I was lined up to do 20 craft shows that year around the country. It was gonna be my biggest year, I had been doing it for like three years. So I was still fairly new, you know, getting out, and I lost every single one of them. They all got cancelled. And I had no other form at the time of income. Yeah, so I was just kind of like, oh my god, what am I doing? So what do you do? Um, like I said, I did a lot of Instagram sales. I was just like, discount heavy discount my work, like every artists was just like, Please buy something.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, you got to pay rent, and yeah, eat sale sale.

Brie Flora:

Then I taught some online workshops. I applied for some small grants. I got a little bit of help from family. You know, I was lucky. But yeah, it was really tough. It was super tough. But that's when I got my part time job back with metalworks. So like jewelers were teaching full like stone setting classes online casting online enameling. I just finished teaching a three week one day a week. But the process I do with powder coating and illustrating on top of powder coating, I had 15 students in my class. And it's tricky because you're not with them. And you have to have like, set up all these cameras situations with your phone, and it's on Zoom. It's all on Zoom live, right? So I started doing that. And then Brandi and I, she I go to her for acupuncture. She's an acupuncturist. So all those injuries I talked about before we became friends, and she was nice. You need to see an acupuncturist. And I was like, Oh, well, that actually helped. And she was like, wouldn't have gotten my master's if it hadn't. And I was like, Oh, you're that I felt like such an idiot. But she's amazing. It has changed my life. So that was part of why I was like, Hey, would you ever want to work out of like the back of a gallery or shop and you know, I think she was happy where she was before. But she definitely wanted to change. And she wanted to focus also more on some of the herbs and tinctures that her clients were wanting and expand on that. So when I said that, she goes, Yes, let's do it. And you know, she's 10 years older than me. So she has more experience with being a small business owner and like doing her own thing, and I have the creative brain, but I am business oriented, but she reigns me and I will say that

Kosta Yepifantsev:

and I think essentially, if I could summarize kind of what you just said, even though it was extremely difficult the pandemic and the changing environment and the amount of work that you've had to do back Yeah, bounce back and you never let it get you down.

Brie Flora:

I did though I did. And I carry I'm going to therapy. Hell you should all everybody go therapy. So what's helped me with the stress it is making time it is like all that I work every day. But some days I'll work a half day or some days I'll work just a few hours. You feel

Kosta Yepifantsev:

guilty when you do. Yes, I do too. I do. Everybody does. I feel like that's grinding.

Brie Flora:

But ya know, it's like bouncing out knowing that you can't work yourself to the ground. I started playing tennis again. That's been great. Because that was like a big part of my childhood. I was art and tenant like I did a lot of sports but I was also deep into art. So that's been nice. Just getting outside going for walks. Yeah, there's a lot there's I'm still figuring it out.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Thank you so much for coming. I mean, this has been just an absolutely fantastic conversation. I honestly never thought that I'd be this interested talking about art, but I just can't wait to learn more. I can't wait to meet your friend Emma. Who does the starving. Oh gosh. And I'm going to ask her if she's like down to carve like buslee Because I want one that Jessica is gonna get mad when she hears this because you know, I keep trying to input some design features on this house that we're remodeling. But babe, if I could just have like a bust to put in the office. I would be so happy anyway. Yeah, we always like to end the show. on a high note, who is one person that makes you better when you're together?

Brie Flora:

That's a hard question. And I know we have to wrap up. So I'd say my community in general, it's just hard to pick one person. I'm lucky that I have so many artists, friends that inspire me all the time. You know, Brandy is a business partner, my partner, David, he's great, but I guess one if I had to pick one person, it would honestly be my dad. Like he's my best friend. He's not an artist. He's always been supportive. We are super nerdy. He's actually going to come visit in October and get his first tattoo. We're both getting Lord of the Rings tattoos together. So um, that's my I would say my dad. Yeah.

Morgan Franklin:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev. If you've enjoyed listening and you want to hear more, make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify or wherever you find your podcasts leave us a review or better yet, share this episode with a friend. Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a Kosta Yepifantsev Production. Today's episode was written and produced by Morgan Franklin post production mixing and editing by Mike Franklin. Want to know more about Kosta visit us at kostayepifantsev.com. We're better together!