This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Today’s interview is with Amanda Heslinga, the owner of an adorable jewelry shop on Etsy called Rocks with Sass*. A friend of mine tagged me on an Instagram post of hers and I've been obsessed ever since. Not only are her creations beautiful, but she is dedicated to donating to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation and healing her body.
*Amanda has since switch to the website Rocks With Sass.
Tell us a little about why you started your shop.
Rocks with Sass all began as a hobby; something to distract me from my health struggles at the time. The jewelry I made was never worn, but instead put on display in my apartment. Things that sparkle always seem to lift my spirits. I really had no intention of selling my jewelry until I decided to do my first walk for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I felt like I was ready to share my story and was going to use sassy jewels as my platform. For my first three months of business, I donated 100% of sales. Together with the rest of my team we raised over $6,000!
What are the biggest struggles you've faced while running your Etsy shop?
Figuring out taxes was a serious struggle for me. I accidentally overpaid my Ohio sales tax by A TON the first time. oops! My advice would be to do as much research beforehand as possible or reach out to an expert for help.
Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?
I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. Move forward and focus on future endeavors, while also learning from past mistakes. I am constantly reevaluating my business plan. What can I do better? What needs to change? What is working?
What do you do when you're having an off day- maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?
An off day for me means I’m lacking inspiration. I absolutely love starting new projects, whether its something crafty, a new jewelry design, or making a Pinterest pin come to life. Once the creative juices start flowing my “off day” has instantly changed into something successful.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way while starting your own shop and trying to get healthy?
I think people often say your health should always come first, but I’m not sure how many of us actually follow that advice. It took me seeing the scale at 80lbs to realize I needed to make a change. I’m hoping this is a lesson I only need to learn once. HEALTH COMES FIRST.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a side business and/or Etsy shop?
Two words: SOCIAL MEDIA: the most powerful and free tool available to you. I would say about 75% of my sales come from Instagram. Your customers want to know you. What is your business about? Why do you do it? Give them a glimpse into your life and let them connect with you!
When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?
When I sit down at my work station and start playing with my crystals/beads I completely zone out. My mind is at ease. I’m happy in that moment doing what I love.
What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?
As a designer its natural for me to pull inspiration from my wardrobe and personal style, which consists of destroy denim, way too much black offset by splashes of color, and lots of sequins. I want my jewelry to be fun conversation starters. A simple statement piece if that makes any sense.
Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.
This is a day I will never forget... I had been designing for Abercrombie & Fitch for two and a half years and it was time for our quarterly meeting. At the quarterly the entire company would meet outside and we would go over numbers, big announcements and promotions. I wasn’t eligible to be promoted, because I had only been in my current position for a year and a half. So with no intention to look cute I bundled up in my puffy marshmallow sweatshirt and very attractive UGG boots and went out the door with the rest of my team. In an absolute surprise my name was called and I was promoted to “Designer”. Its a wonderful feeling when you know your hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed.
What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?
A couple weeks ago was my last day at Abercrombie as I decided to take a year off from work to focus on my health and happiness. I’m hoping this next year I rediscover old passions like cooking, photography, painting/sketching etc. Naturally, I have already dedicated a decent amount of my new free time to RWS. I am so excited to see what will come of this little shop that I have fallen in love with.
Amanda was kind enough to create a special coupon for her store: use SASSATTACK20 so you can enjoy 20% off your next order!
Amanda Heslinga owns the etsy shop “Rocks with Sass” based out of Columbus, Ohio. This small jewelry shop is all about spreading positive energy, chasing passions, and wearing sassy jewels. As a Crohn’s disease fighter, Amanda has made it her mission to share her story in order to raise awareness and funds. A portion of each sale is donated to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Previously a designer for Abercrombie & Fitch, Amanda is now focusing on her health and the exciting future of “Rocks with Sass”.