We had the good fortune of connecting with Cindy Liebel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cindy, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Since I could remember, I’ve always been passionate about creating things through the lens of my film camera, making my own clothes using my mom’s Singer sewing machine, and crafting a memorable portfolio. In all honesty, I didn’t really think I would have my own jewelry business, I saw myself rising up in the corporate world as an Executive Business Manager. Times changed when I became a mom to two amazing human beings, now teenagers. While I stayed home raising them, I tapped into my creative side creating art in different forms, and became intrigued by a friend’s jewelry-making techniques. I sought out local jewelry-making classes, learning how to perfect my wire wrapping skills. The same instructor, a goldsmith, told me about the basic metalsmithing classes they were teaching and after learning from them, I was hooked. The process of manipulating metal with and without heat is fascinating and has led me from a hobbyist to a businesswoman. From there, I collected tools and bought lots of textbooks to learn more about the craft exploring different types of metals, and formed them into wearable, functional art. I love simplicity, with a twist. It was important to me to create styles there are lightweight and functional pieces I would be comfortable wearing.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My goal has always been to create modern, understated designs for everyday wear that are comfortable, functional, lightweight, and authentic. I used my time finding inspiration through storytelling, drawing inspiration from architecture and geometric patterns with a mid-century and art deco blue print and translating that into my work. I design with intention of using raw materials that are sustainable and ethically sourced. It took me several years to find my design aesthetic and what I really wanted to bring to life for those interested in my designs. This process had its challenges, but I gave myself time, allowing the materials to spark those creative designs that spoke to the wearer. I want the wearer to find joy and excitement when they wear my jewelry. It’s important for them to feel confident wearing adornments that make them feel good.
Creatively, achieving success wasn’t always that easy for me when I ventured into the jewelry industry. There was always so much to learn but I always felt, as a black female artist, I wasn’t taken seriously. It rubbed me the wrong way, but I managed to keep my head up and kept moving forward with through my career as a jewelry artist. I spent time focusing on what my customers liked and disliked wearing and how the jewelry made them feel. Their insight elevated my passion handcrafting jewelry and learning new techniques in metalsmithing.
I decided to spread my wings and take my jewelry out into the world of art festivals and craft shows. Taking my jewelry on the road opened more doors… The more my jewelry was seen in the world, the more I gained access to opportunities I never thought would come into fruition. I found my voice, and every day, I look forward to sharing my jewelry with others who seek to wear pieces that empower their confidence and excitement. I’ve learned how important my successes and failures can lead to growth and self worth.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh, there are some great gems in my town. I love food and I have so many favorites, but these local treasures are top of my list… For breakfast, Eileen’s Bakery & Cafe is great. They have a great mix of unique and traditional twists and are also a great place for lunch. Another favorite is FoodE + Mercantile, where you’ll have a delicious meal for both brunch and dinner. Plus, their restaurant sits inside a historical national bank building with a view to the original volt doors. They change up their menu every now and then, which is nice and the historical atmosphere is a delight. If you’re in the mood for Italian, Orofino is a favorite. If you’re in the mood for unique Asian cuisine, Miso is my favorite hands down and sushi lovers would enjoy lunch or dinner at Umi and Guru Indian Cuisine is divine, their buffet is classy and clean and you’ll enjoy the endless basket of naan bread.
I’m a fan of shopping local, so I would show them a few great local small businesses where they could find unique treasures and handmade art downtown Fredericksburg. A visit Libertytown Arts Workshop is a 13,000 square foot gallery with over 40 local creatives and artists who make, teach and sell their artwork from modern paintings to ceramic dishware to fiber arts, plus handmade jewelry, cards, and more. Sugar + Spruce is a great place for handmade bath, body, and skincare soaps, bath bombs, and candles. You can even watch their production process in the making. Ponshop is a family-owned business where you can find some local and regional handmade goods for anyone. For slow, ethically-made women’s clothing, accessories, and small home goods a visit to Phosephene Shop is a must. I can’t forget about Latitudes Fair Trade Store… They have an abundance of artisan gifts from around the world.
Hyperion Espresso is the local favorite for a mix of coffee, smoothies and light pastries.
Who doesn’t love partaking in a little cheer! A day trip to the Potomac Point Winery for wine tasting, light horderves and tour of the winery is truly a fun experience. For those who prefer beer or spirits, I highly suggest touring the A. Smith Bowman Distillery and Highmark Brewery.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I first have to give credit to my grandfather! His words of encouragement during my younger years allowed me to have confidence in myself, teaching me to never give up on learning how to be good at whatever I do in life, what I love, and to always be curious. He had a positive work ethic that was motivating and productive. When he retired from the government, he expanded his creative work as a professional barber and the head photographer at his church, which inspired my love of photography. He was always into capturing memorable moments in life and sharing his creative side with others.
My mom and dad, to the joy and excitement they feel when I share a win with them. They have been completely intrigued with my jewelry career and supportive of my growth. I love that they love how happy I am doing what I am passionate about.
My husband and kids, they put up with my constant battle of life, work balance, and support me 100%. My daughter shared with me how impressed she is with my success in running my own business. It was a sweet surprise hearing her share her words with me, which I hope encourages her to pursue her very own business adventures.
Lastly, to all my mentors (former & current), creative business owners, friends in the jewelry industry, I appreciate them for their continued support and friendships along the way.