THE STORY SO FAR
MetalBug Collective started in 2020. I had been working as a bartender and attending classes at Kent State University prior to the pandemic. My schedule had always been crazy hectic, and work/school was my entire life at that point in time. I was very uncertain of what I wanted to do as a career path and had changed my major four times- haha! (Starting with journalism, then nutrition, then communications, and then psychology… I couldn’t make up my mind!)
When the pandemic started, I was out of a job, and classes were no longer in person. All the sudden I had a huge amount of free time. That was something I was never used to. This really allowed me to take a step back & collect myself.
My lease at the house I was living in Akron, OH, was coming to an end. I decided to move back home to Massillon, OH, with my mom and two sisters. Once I moved back home, I had a bit more financial flexibility. I had the opportunity to leave Ohio for a two-month road trip out West. We explored as many national parks as we could on that trip.
I remember getting to Arizona and walking into a little gift shop right outside the Grand Canyon. I was absolutely stunned by how beautiful all of the jewelry and artwork this little shop had. They had so many beautiful handmade pieces. The sterling silver and copper electroform pieces caught my eye. I had never heard of copper electroformed jewelry before this. I thought that it was breathtaking. I was so intrigued by all of it! I started noticing all of the unique jewelry in all of the different places we were stopping and thought to myself that I would love to learn how to do this.
When we made it to LA, we were staying there for a few weeks. I started researching copper electroforming and read as much as I could about it. My journal started filling up with notes of all of the equipment I needed to collect and how the process of electroforming worked. I watched hours and hours of YouTube videos and subbed to countless Reddit pages. I couldn’t wait to get started when I got back!
I was still out west when I started to order the materials I needed to get started. When I got home, I set up a little workshop area in my mom’s unfinished basement. I would spend hours down there jamming my favorite music (a lot of heavy metal), trying to figure this whole electroforming thing out. Some of my first pieces were SO bad, but I was so proud of them! I was so motivated to keep learning and creating- & I was having so much fun!
In October 2020, I moved to Kent, OH, and converted the office space in my house into my workshop. I felt confident enough to start sharing my creations online. I made an Instagram page and called it “MetalBug Collective.” Growing up, I had an uncle that would call me “Bug”; that’s where the “MetalBug” idea came from. I decided to call it a “Collective” because my idea was that somewhere down the line, I could work towards creating a platform to bring other artists together and give them a place to share their artwork.
From there, I created an Etsy account and started sharing my work through Etsy and Instagram. One day I received a message on Instagram about vending at a local market. I applied and got accepted. I did my first market in June of 2021. After the first show, I built my website (MetalBugCo.com) and applied to be a part of more markets. I read as much as I could about vending, Shopify, marketing, and online sales. I completely fell in love with it at this point. I loved meeting new people at every event and connecting with them! I loved meeting other vendors and hearing their story. I loved seeing the look on a customer’s face when they found a piece of jewelry that spoke to them. Everything just kinda of started to make sense at this point.
At the beginning of 2022, I decided that I wanted to learn more about different styles of jewelry-making and repair work. I sold my Sony camera and lenses so that I could pay out of pocket to go to jewelers’ school and purchase my torch/tool set up. I have completed the first of three workshops at Drouhard’s National Jewelers School in Mansfield, OH, and am currently an apprentice jeweler at Signet Jewelers. The beginning of 2022 was also when I decided that this is what I was passionate about and that I wanted to try to take things to the next level this year. I began applying for summer events early on in the year and created a pretty hefty event schedule for the summer- averaging 3-4 farmers’ markets/art shows a week.
Currently, my big project I have been working on is remodeling an old school bus into my mobile workshop. I purchased it at the beginning of 2022 and have been working on it whenever I get the chance too. I plan on taking it out of state to work vendor events.
It has been a lot of hard work, but I have enjoyed every single second of it! I am very thankful for my friends and family that have been so supportive along the way. I appreciate all of the advice I have received from other small business owners. Every day has been a learning experience, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunities that have presented themselves thus far.
Thank you for supporting MetalBugCo.