We had the good fortune of connecting with Elias Jade Not Afraid and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elias Jade, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
First I wanted to make sure I was ok with the fact that I was going to start a business selling my beadwork. Then I decided, well if I’m going to sell beadwork, then use and collect the highest quality of vintage and antique glass seed beads and sustainable materials my ancestors used back them in their beadwork so I did extensive research on my tribe (Apsaalooké aka Crow tribe) and studied the beadwork and designs. Then typed up a business plan and built up a social media following based off my beadwork. I also set short and long term goals as well to keep me focused.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
First off I would like to say, if you see us native Americans selling their art, (beadwork, jewelry, pottery, textile) that it is OK TO BUY our art and use it. It is a form of cultural appreciation to buy direct from the native artist then buying work from non indigenous people who appropriate our culture. I love repurposing vintage and antique jewelry findings that are of high quality and blend them into my beadwork and create something with sustainable materials that can be passed on as a family heirloom from generation to generation. It sounds easy but is in fact extremely difficult to collect such items like antique and vintage cut glass seed beads, elk ivory,shell, smoked deer hide, pearls, faceted real diamond micro beads with holes drilled , ect and they are not cheap, a few grams of antique cut glass seed beads can run up in the 100s of dollars. I looked at it as an investment and started collecting and have collected some externally rare items that I use in all my work. I believe Quality is better then quality. So each time takes hours and hours to complete. I try to set myself apart from other artists by blending traditional and personal interests in all my pieces. I love to push boundaries with my work but I do so respectfully when using traditional design. There’s so much more I want to do but we only have 24 hours in a day. Every opportunity that was given to me, I take it. Like participating in art talks, podcasts, galleries, interview, etc. no matter how nervous I am, I’ll do it because you never know where these opportunities could lead and they led me to some amazing places around the US.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If ever in the Phoenix area, you definitely have to eat at Presidio Cocina Mexicana for the best pozole in the city. Then depending on the Phoenix heat, Hike the trials in the Superstition Mountains, then dine at AZ 88 and spend the rest of the evening in old Scottsdale.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Entering the art market is very daunting but with the help and guidance from my best friends/mentors/ sisters Jamie Okuma and Nina Sanders, I was able to get this far with my art career.