We had the good fortune of connecting with Carmen McNeil and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carmen, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
“A Jack of all trades is a master of none.” I’ve tried over and over to focus on one thing. Maybe it’s my ADHD or maybe it’s a personality quirk, but focusing on one thing for me is the worst. At first I thought I must be missing something. Something must be wrong. Why is it so many others are specializing with what appears to be no problem while I go cross eyed in my attempts to do the same? Then I realized I was applying a black and white approach to a situation that doesn’t require one. There is not one way to run a business. Plenty of successful people niche. Plenty of successful people don’t. Plenty of them do a combination of both. Ultimately, you have to do what aligns with you. Forge your own path.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a metalsmith, I handcraft jewelry for the multifaceted woman who believes that her femininity is not determined by how soft OR strong she is. It’s determined by the fact that she doesn’t have to be one or the other. She can be both. Analytical and emotional, outgoing and shy, fighter and nurturer, she can be what she chooses. I purposely design my jewelry to be both delicate and bold to reflect the complexities of each woman and remind her to stop listening to all the outside noise and live life by her own rules! I first began making jewelry 20 years ago. I started like a lot of other jewelry artists do with bead stringing and wire wrapping. However, after 10 years those techniques took a major toll on my fingers and I developed severe joint pain in my knuckles due to overuse. So I ditched my jewelry pliers for a couple of jewelry hammers and the metalsmith was born. About 5 years later I took my first class at KP Studio where I currently teach and run my jewelry business, Chroma Rocks. Once I took all the classes there, I showed up every day I could to practice the new skills I learned. I put in so many hours that Michelle, the owner, offered me a teaching job. I didn’t really give her a choice, I was there so much! This then lead to the amazing experience of studying at the New Approach School for Jewelers in Tennessee. It hasn’t been an easy journey. I’ve been plagued by self doubt, anxiety, and imposter syndrome. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that if I want to grow my business, I also have to grow my mindset. The two go hand in hand. Through working on myself I’ve been able to overcome the roadblocks I had that initially kept me down. Not only has that helped me professionally, it’s also had a tremendous impact on my personal life. So much so that I’ve decided to take on a third business venture, offering online courses through my new company Analytical Artisan!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Sedona is my favorite place on the planet and there’s no way my best friend is coming to Arizona without experiencing Sedona! On Friday we’d go wine tasting. We’d go to Page Springs Cellars and sip our wine out on the patio overlooking the trees and creek below. Then we’d head over to Oak Creek Vineyards and Winery which has a great view of the mountains. Then we’d finish the day at DA Ranch. This place has it all. Excellent wine, great views, a lake, a fire pit to relax by, and a tree swing perfect for taking memorable photos! After all that wine we’ll definitely need food. Dinner will be at Mariposa, home of the best Yucca fries I’ve ever tasted. Saturday we’ll get up early and go to the Local Juicery for breakfast before hiking down to Oak Creek. It’s a pretty simple hike, but when you get to the bottom of the mountain the scenery completely changes. The dirt turns to soft sand and the path takes you through a shady canopy of trees leading to the water. It’s a perfect place to relax, meditate, or cool off from the sun. Then in the afternoon, we’ll grab lunch at the Secret Garden café and listen to the live music before exploring the shops and galleries in Tlaquepaque Art Village. Dinner will be at the Oak Creek Brewery. Sunday morning, we’ll do a jeep tour where you’ll learn the history of the area, the foliage, and see some interesting landmarks. Then home!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A huge shoutout to my biggest cheerleader, my husband Nick. His belief in me has gotten me through several times when I wasn’t believing in myself. He supports me, troubleshoots my problems with me, and ooohs and aaahs over my latest creations. He’s my rock. Also, my best friend Michelle. When she decided to open KP Studio in Phoenix, not only did it provide me a teaching job, it gave me a creative place that is like my 2nd home. I truly would not be where I am without her and the studio. And my PSI family (especially you, Jen D) for making me laugh, being there when I cry, celebrating my wins, calling me out on my nonsense, and just being the greatest group of people ever.
Carmen McNeil, Janelle Hinesley, Fernando Zelaya