Ah, I am finally back in the studio. Luckily, I have a new sidekick, who held the fort during my absence. Meet Aryam Zubizarreta Perez!
Let me give you a little background: I started my business in 2005, while still finishing my BFA in jewellery design and metalsmithing from NSCAD University in Halifax. I sold one ring at the school’s student store, then another. Soon, I approached my first gallery, Fireworks Gallery on Barrington street, where my work is sold to this day. Then Galerie Noel Guyomarc’H in Montreal. And so on, and so forth. My children were still little then, and being a mom was my priority. Things grew very organically for quite a while, and after finishing school I eventually started sharing a studio at the Arts Annex on the Halifax waterfront.
However, a few years ago, I found myself at a juncture where I had to either give up making jewellery, or take it on 200%. I did the latter – jewellery making was going to be my full time – double time, actually! – job, with which I was to independently support myself financially. Yikes!
I worked hard and built the company, doing every single bit myself: the designing and making of jewellery, the graphic design and marketing materials, the travel to shows, lugging the wood, keeping track of inventory, and the bookkeeping.
At some point I started hiring help, just here and there for a few hours. Then I had Kris MacKenzie with me one day a week – we developed a deep friendship over the years that she helped me out in this way. Eventually, I had to face the fact: I needed full time help, and Kris meanwhile had a successful career in CAD/CAM. So I put a job call out on Canada’s job bank, looking for a goldsmith with minimum 5 years experience.
I received many many replies, most of them from outside the country. I followed a couple of leads for some time, but they were not the right fit. And one day, I received Aryam’s application. Aryam was already settled in Halifax, and he was very well trained – just in the wrong field!
This is what he wrote
“I am applying for the position of Jeweller at your Halifax studio. Over the last fifteen years I have worked as an artist, craftsman, and carpenter in both Nova Scotia and Cuba. In Cuba, I studied fine arts, developing skills and experience working in many mediums including jewellery making, ceramics, and glass work. My subsequent work as a luthier and woodworker has shaped my career as an artisan. All of my endeavours have been marked by high levels of responsibility, efficiency, and professionalism.
I am a motivated self-learner and self-starter and am able to learn and acquire new skills and trades very quickly. I am focused and determined, and am used to working long hours doing fine-tuned and delicate projects. I have exceptional spatial intelligence with the ability to visualize, draw, design, and fabricate high quality handcrafted products with efficiency. I feel confident that the combination of my fine arts training and technical skill-set would make me an excellent candidate for the position of Jeweller at your studio.”
I was baffled. And intrigued. Sometimes, you have to go with your gut, and I did just that when I asked Aryam in for an interview, regardless of the fact that he lacked the appropriate training. Perhaps a ‘blank slate’ was a good thing.
Long story short, this courageous young man started a trial month. And then I hired him.
Aryam did not misrepresent in his application letter – he really is motivated, and he really does work hard. I have been so impressed with his progress, and he has already become an invaluable member of my tiny team of two. I don’t even know how I did it all on my own, before.
We have a little project which he has been working on, which will be revealed soon. Stay tuned!