We had the good fortune of connecting with Laraya Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laraya, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
Honestly it has to be leaving my 9-5 to focus on my business full time. I’ve been making jewelry to close to 10 years now and I’ve had a regular job the entire time. This was a blessing and a curse. On the one hand I had the steady income needed to fund my business but at the same time I was having to turn down a lot of opportunities that could help grow my business. Now that I have quit and only work for myself my business has grown significantly and I am learning and doing things that I never thought I’d be able to.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The thing I’m most proud about is that everything I make is done by my hand.
Straight down to the ear wires on my earrings and the clasps on my necklaces, I have taught myself to create each piece necessary to complete a project. I take great pride in that fact. I used to take what I now consider shortcuts, but I decided that if I want to truly consider myself a jeweler I gotta fully know how to make the jewelry. While this is the part I take most pride in, it also has proven to be difficult in some ways. Spending a day creating a big stock of ear wires is time consuming and the more pieces I create by hand the more stress I am putting on my hands. The reward is most definitely worth it. When my clients notice the details effort that I put into creating my pieces they appreciate my work even more. That makes the time it takes to create 50 earwires and 50 clasps more than worth it.
I’ve always worked with multiple mediums. From wire to resin to leather braiding and crochet, I’ve always had my had in many different pots soaking in as much knowledge and skill as I could. Being able to revive a skill I learned from my mother when I was a child, crochet, has been another rewarding experience. Learning to crochet was a skill I never thought I’d use. My mother originally taught me to make baby blankets but more importantly she taught me to read patterns. I spent years without touching a crochet hook then finally picked it back up about 3-4 years ago. Now I’m making custom clothing and crochet bags.
My favorite part about having multiple skills and talents means there’s nothing I can’t do! This allows me to constantly create new and fresh designs to keep my existing clientele engaged while grabbing new attention.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The very first place I think of is Zipps sports bar and grill. Literally all of them are good but I think my favorite is on mill ave in Tempe. I love zipps because they have delicious food, the zipparitas are amazing and perfectly strong (1 and a half and I’m more than done haha) and the atmosphere is always fun. You can go mid day or late night and it’s always fun. I would suggest the one on mill because there are so many fun things to do before and/or after going to zipps. Can hit my favorite herb shop, happy healthy high horny herbs (I believe that’s the name) can have a yummy ice cream, do a little shopping at one of the cool boutiques. Then after that head over to Tempe town lake and maybe ride a bike or rent a paddle boat. Of course that’s just a day but Tempe surly has a lot of places with a lot of different fun and interesting things to do. You could spend a whole day at the Tempe marketplace, lots of food fun and shopping. Could even stop and see a movie. A beautiful morning hike on superstition mountain or a day on the water. Going tubing at the salt river. Or going even further and driving up to sedona, a nice long scenic drive, drop about 10 degrees because of the elevation for a cooler hike. There’s a gorgeous stream which feels like the greatest reward after a nice 2 hour hike through the energy vortexes. Search events on Facebook and pop up at an event. There is no shortage of things going on in arizona from pop up markets to festivals to parties and concerts. Since I’m big on “eat drink and be merry” I would hit all of my favorite places to eat. Monastery in mesa is another favorite. Good food good drinks great atmosphere. They have live music some nights, a sand volleyball pit, cornhole! It looks like the best backyard BBQ you have ever been too. Drunken tiger also in mesa is yet another favorite. All of the food us good but it has to be hands down my favorite place for Ramen. I could name favorite food places all day, haha, but these are most definitely my top few.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My partner Clint nost definitely deserves some recognition. He has been more than supportive and encouraging since day one. He volunteered to help me grow my business before we entered a relationship volunteering to model and take pictures for me. His support has grown and changed just as much as I have in building my business. Hes now my media manager, responsible for the majority of my videos and images. I truly believe I wouldn’t be as far as I am if not for him. Even in the decision to leave my job to focus on my business. If not for his push I may not have taken the leap.