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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interview Feature: MissCristal

Today’s interview feature is with MissCristal! Her shop offers wonderful, bold jewelry and she’s also popular for her fantastic Bargain Belles! To kick off the interview, MissCristal shared a bit of background about herself.

I was born in London, first child of a Spanish mother and Irish father who had just moved back to England after living the good life in Denmark, so that makes me a bit of a mongrel. I've been living in Spain since I was 7. I studied Comparative Literature and Literary Criticism in Granada (Southern Spain) and did a postgraduate in Communication, I also have a course in Business Management. I founded my own publishing brand (Parnaso) in 2004 and have been working in publishing and as a critic and translator since then. I currently live in Mijas Costa, Málaga, also in Southern Spain, next to the Mediterranean I adore. I turned to jewelery making as a way of getting a bit of extra income, since the current recession in Spain is making it a lot harder to earn a living. I am currently 28, have had a stable relationship with a historian-turned graphic designer for the last 8 years, and two lovely kitties I'm quite mad about.

How did you come up with your shop name?

The most important thing for me was having a name that made sense both in English and in Spanish, since I'm catering to the Spanish and the Anglosaxon market. Jumping from one language to the other is second nature to me, and Miss Cristal just sounded right in both. Hence the spelling of “Cristal” (in Spanish) instead of “Crystal”. It was also a case of finding something for my website that wasn't already taken. And that's where www.misscristal.com started. Funnily enough www.misscrystal.com was already taken... by a dominatrix.

Why did you start your Etsy shop?

There aren't really many efficient online shops for handmade items. I started with my own website for my Spanish customers but was looking for other venues that could give me more exposure; I tried Dawanda and really liked their European flare and friendly style. Unfortunately, their movement is very limited in comparison to Etsy. I actually registered in Etsy in 2008. For some reason I couldn't register my credit card, so just left it and forgot about it, until I had another go at the end of last year and finally got the system to acknowledge my existence!

How long have you been a crafter?

I'd like to say “since I was born”, but I have no idea if I was crafting at the early age of one! I've been artistic for as long as I could remember, I started writing stories as soon as I could jumble words together on a piece of paper, and I usually illustrated them. I continued to write and paint inconsistently, until I went to University, studied Theory of Literature and realized anything I wrote was doomed to wither under my snobbish, critical gaze. Even so I still wrote poetry, more for the love of performing at readings than for pride in my art. For some reason there are very strange people out there that like it, and I had a book published last year. I painted on and off, more as a therapeutic resort than for actual art, and as my job got more and more stressful (I'm a publisher in a country that doesn't read that much), I took up jewelery making, which has an incredibly relaxing effect on me.

Does your shop reflect your personal style?

Very much, yes. After going through a very goth phase I've gone back to colors with a vengeance. Most of the stuff I make comes from a personal desire to wear a kind of jewelery I can't find in the shops. I have countless pieces I've made and never listed in my shop or offered for sale: if a piece doesn't do anything for me, if it doesn't make me feel fantastic, I don't think it'll do anything for other people, either. I adore all things baroque and extreme: I love corsets, tutus, high heels and big hair, I like dressing up and building personal styles. I usually wear several very long necklaces at once, in variations of red and black.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your products?

I think there's a part of my brain concentrated exclusively on whatever artistic project I'm on that activates itself at around 2 o'clock in the morning. Inspiration gives me insomnia. It usually stems from anything, anywhere: from a pair of earrings I see on someone on the street to the color of the sky that day. I wish I could grab things magically and twist them into exactly what I want; unfortunately things never come out quite as I envision them, but that's part of the fun!

Is there a piece in your shop that was hard for you to part with?

I have a few pieces I've made that I've kept for myself, such as a HUGE long red necklace made with multiple strands of beads and hand-painted pieces. It's enormous and weighs a ton, and it always gets a few gasps. I don't think I could part with that, but on the other hand I can't picture anyone wanting it, except for Lady Gaga, maybe. There are some other pieces I couldn't sell, such as a very long striped red and black necklace I wear with everything, or my strand of Haitian pearls, that I bought to tear apart and use the pearls for other pieces, but love too much.

I was very nostalgic recently to part with my Green Delight necklace, it was one of my first listings on Etsy and one of the first necklaces I made with hand-painted beads. It wasn't hard, though, since I knew it was going to a good home and a wonderful customer.

Care to share an idea or item you hope to have in your shop in the future?

I wish I could! I have tons of ideas, but many of the items I make appear out of nowhere, and are unexpected even for myself! I'd love to train in lampworking and/or in metalsmithing, and plan to do so as soon as I have the time and money. I'm trying to focus and make a few simpler items for customers who aren't extravagant color freaks like myself, and I've been experimenting with wire-building, using sturdy wire to make chokers and cuffs. I have a fantasy of constructing a glass bead corset out of strong silver filled wire. Some day it might happen!

What’s the most important piece of advice you can give to other shop owners?

Don't try to do what everyone else does, that never works and it's very unsatisfying. Be flexible and stay open to constructive criticism, but learn to ignore silly, empty criticism too. If you believe in what you're selling, sooner or later it'll sell; if you don't, it won't (that's one lesson I learned the hard way). And don't be afraid to give up. Sometimes it's a good thing.

If you want to find out more about MissCristal, you can find her on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, at her own website, or her blog!

If you would like to be featured on my blog, please contact me at my Etsy shop!


  1. Whoot amazing to learn about missCristal. Its great to learn about them if you can't get to meet them face to face. thank you for sharing this!

  2. Thank you for your lovely feature, Kari, it's an honour to be here! :)

  3. Great write up! It's really fun to get to know the other Etsians!

  4. Great article on MissCristal!! Thank you for sharing her story!! :)

  5. Fabulous write up!!! Thank you for posting this piece about MissCristal! She's one to add to my fav list!!! Thank you!