It's a new year and clean slate - the perfect time to set a few goals and resolutions for yourself. (Or, if you're like us, a few anti-resolutions!) But sometimes, we need a few role models to keep us on the right track throughout the year, which is why we've got a slew of inspired interviews with ordinary women doing extraordinary things - all year long. Up today? Jewelry designer Erin Hasler, a recent breast cancer survivor who has inspired us to take the trials we're given and mold them into something to be grateful for. It's a lofty goal, but something Erin does with grace, beauty and soul - just like the jewelry she molds daily. Read her interview below:
Tell us about your path to becoming a jewelry designer, with all of its twists, turns and detours along the way?
I come from a family of incredibly creative artists and I always felt like the odd brainiac out. I started out in marketing and worked for a small company that created jewelry. The company was so small that I began making and designing pieces for them when I wasn't doing marketing and I quickly fell in love. I went back to school and studied metalsmithing and the rest is history. I launched Ija in 2007 and have been going strong ever since. I believe in the art of hand crafted goods and make each and every Ija piece by hand.
You're a recent breast cancer survivor (congratulations!). Can you talk a bit about that experience - how survival has shaped your current perspective as a woman and creative?
Thank you. I was diagnosed in May of 2012 and the year that followed was easily the most difficult of my life. That being said, it was also the greatest moment of growth for me as a woman, mother, wife, daughter and artist. I realized that life can be very short and to live each day to the fullest doing what brings you and those around you joy. When I finished treatment I was able to apply those lessons to my daily life and work. I closed the storefront I had and moved my studio into a gorgeous space my husband built in our backyard. Now I take my children to school each morning, come home and create while listening to music and am free to pick them up each day and sneak off to a field trip when time allows. In this mindset I've found much more joy in creating my art.
How can we better support the women battling cancer? What were some inspired words or encouraging moments you experienced?
I think the best way to support someone you know battling cancer is to just be there. I truly appreciated friends who would come and sit and laugh with me when I was recovering from chemo. My inspiration came each day in the form of gratitude. It was a life altering mindset for me to shift from focusing on what was wrong to what was right. I began to see all the incredible blessings/gifts, (however you chose to see them) and it enabled me to move past anger and bitterness. Stuff happens, you just put on your big girl panties and move on, ha.
Your jewelry collection was named after Iron Jawed Angels, a group of women suffragists. How has your background growing up with a feminist mother shaped your daily life as a modern woman?
One of the greatest gifts my mother gave us was the knowledge that women who came before us fought endlessly for us to have the rights we enjoy every day. When I was a child that helped me to have empathy for others whose rights were being denied or who were treated unfairly. As a woman and a mother it helps me to not take those rights for granted. There is no way that a tattooed mother would be able to run her own business if it wasn't for the women who came before me.
Clementine Daily is a space for women who believe in embracing simple pleasures, setting realistic expectations and bettering their lives to better the lives around them. In your eyes, how do you fit in with that mission?
First off, I love that mission. As a mother, I think we can get caught in a tailspin of trying to do everything perfectly/organically. I have found myself in that place at different times in my life, but I've come to realize that so long as my family feels loved and safe, nothing really else matters. I do my best to cook organic love for my kids as often as possible but I am all about ordering a pizza, curling up on the couch and watching a movie after a rough day. This is our life, we only get one. I'm a firm believer in living each day to the fullest, with the greatest joy possible and the rest will shake itself out. If you put love, compassion and heart into all you do, you can't help but to better all of those with whom you cross paths.
What are three items you use (and love!) daily?
Hmm, my french press, my hammers and my enameled, cast iron pot. I cook everything in it!
Any personal motto/mantra?
p.s. Thanks to sweet Erin for kicking off the new year with a new, inspiring perspective. Want to hear from another jewelry designer who overcame a personal struggle? Meet Kate Miss.