“American Made” Annual Awards
Peter’s Interview for Martha Stewart’s 2015 American Made Awards
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.
All of my life I Have been active. When I retired I wanted to continue my creative instinct. What originally began as a creative gift giving venture over a decade ago has developed into a successful business endeavor that continues to thrive. In keeping with my growing success, last year I added a studio onto our home. During an appointment, customers can view or purchase my creations or discuss design ideas for custom orders. When I am not creating, I do juried arts and craft shows around the state of Florida. Over the past several years I have received top awards at competitions for my one of a kind numbered creations
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORKSPACE, SHOP, OR STUDIO.
In 2014 I added a major addition to our home for a studio where I can create my craft and have potential buyers visit. My business has grown from a hobby so much over the past few years that now it is a real full blown business that continues to grow. My work takes many hours to create and it is nice to have everything all in one place to build my trees and wreaths. I am also able to have all of my inventory at hand when a potential buyer wants to see my work in a comfortable well designed area of the studio. We have an impressive collection of shells and other sea life used in making my craft. Visitors are impressed with what goes into gathering and creating these works of art. We make certain that we do not collect live specimens. The fish scales of Redfish Gar and Tarpon I transform into exquisite flowers such as Poinsettias Gardenias and others. There is a Sharks Tooth hidden in every tree as Venice Florida is the Sharks tooth capital of the world. It is a signature thing I do.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
My customers inspire me with special challenges and requests. My best creations have come from customers requests. I love what I do and not a day goes by without doing something with my craft. I am inspired when I see a shell or silk flower and imagine how I can use it in my creations. As an example the day we were coming in from fishing on our boat along Boca Grande and came across a huge school of large Red Fish floating on the surface. I took one look and decided I needed to turn this tragic scene into something creative. We pulled the fish aboard , a messy job, and I took the scales off the bodies. Rinsed them with fresh water and put them out in the sun to dry and now I make Gardenias from those fish scales.
WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS STAND OUT?
I have been a shell collector for many years. My collection grew to a point that I had to do something with all the shells that were collected. We were running out of room! I came up with an idea to decorate small table top trees with shells and sea life. At first I gave them away. The response was overwhelming. I then started to market my craft and it has grown ever since. I am inspired by what the Gulf Of Mexico on the Southwest Coast of Florida puts out on our beaches. I see a shell or another crab or the grasses that wash up on the beach and try to invision how I can use them in my trees and wreaths. I enjoy being creative and it shows in my work. I use over 150 different shells in each tree. The ultimate in up cycling. Every where I go and everyone who sees my work claims that they have never seen anything like these trees and wreaths. The 50 lights in the 18″ and the 100 lights in the 24″ trees make them glow like nothing you have ever seen.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Work hard every day. Good things take time and effort. Do what you love and enjoy. It will never be a job. The return will be ten fold.
HOW HAVE YOU USED SOCIAL MEDIA TO START AND GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
I have not used social media but instead use my web site and advertise in our local upscale magazine every month where I have been featured with a two page feature article every year.
WHAT DOES AMERICAN MADE MEAN TO YOU?
So many things we use and shop for today are not made in this country. It is refreshing to attend the craft/art shows that I do around the state to see how many people are creating things that are hand made. What talent and imagination.