Siouxsiequeue's: An Origin Story
Posted by Suzanne Gutierrez on
Today I found myself wondering how many people know the origin story of Siouxsiequeue's. The short version of the story lives here on the website; I bought a bracelet, obsessed over the bracelet, got someone to teach me, and bing, bang, boom, here we are, but there's more to it than that.
Once upon a time, I met a wonderful lady at a con who sold me a fantastic handmade chainmaille bracelet. I still have it. It's a two-strand Japanese weave, pink and black anodized aluminum, with a stainless steel tube clasp. I still wear it but never pass it off as my work, even though I completely rebuilt it.
From the first time I wore the bracelet, I obsessed over it. I peppered people, mostly Jeremy, with questions for days.
"How did they make this?"
"Do you think they put the small rings in first or the larger rings?"
"Did they make all these rings?"
"How did they put the color on the rings?"
"What kind of tools did they use to make all the jewelry?"
"Do you think I could learn to do this too?"
That last question was the most important. Primarily because by that time, I'd taken the bracelet apart with a pair of pliers and wire snips. I had this little pile of (somehow and miraculously undamaged) rings that used to be a bracelet, and I wanted to make it a bracelet again.
A friend of mine had mercy on me and told me where to find supplies and instructions. I placed an order, lamented shipping and handling times, and immediately went off to the hardware store to buy all the wrong supplies while I waited. I purchased 14 gauge galvanized steel wire, wooden dowels in three sizes, and two pairs of the cheapest pliers they had. The first experiment did not go well, and after hours of struggle and flirting with tetanus, I placed another order for the right tools, and I waited. Next time you see me, remind me to tell you about the time I almost broke my left index finger and needed to get a tetanus shot. It's a good story.
There was no stopping me once the (correct) tools and supplies arrived. I fixed the original bracelet and continued to make jewelry. We lived in a tiny house then. The county says it's 1130 SQFT, but that's not remotely true; it's really just over 900 SQFT according to my tape measure and Jeremy's ability to count...I digress. The house was super small, and I was rapidly filling it with chainmaille jewelry. I had zero experience running my own business, so clearly, the only thing to do was to begin selling the jewelry I made. I picked an impossible to pronounce Gaelic word as a name, and off I went to the craft fairs. Why craft fairs? The people who helped me get started already had a booth at the cons, and I didn't want to step on their toes. Jeremy and I regularly got up before dawn, packed the car, and stood in freezing/baking parking lots all day only to have middle-aged women say things like, "How...unusual," or "This is...interesting." I also had no idea about planning inventory for a show and often had too few pieces, which went right on the table because we also had no displays.
The great thing about having no experience is that you don't get bogged down by the things you're "supposed" to do. Mostly because you have no idea what it is you're supposed to do. We were in the wrong venues, with a poor inventory selection, a terrible booth, hell, once we forgot to pack tablecloths and chairs, but I was learning. I looked at the stalls around me, spoke with the other vendors, developed a plan, changed the business name to an equally difficult to pronounce word, and started to create the Siouxsiequeue's brand, which is a never-ending project.
So that's the Siouxsiequeue's origin story, and every day of the last 15 years have been an adventure, an adventure in handmade, see what I did there? We have had amazing days, and we've had some not so great days. The best things I've learned are to do the work every day and to take chances when they come along. Because of one bracelet made by someone else, Jeremy and I have had some unbelievable opportunities, and we have met the most delightful people.
We miss you by the way. Hope to see you soon.
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