While "silver anniversary" is widely used to celebrate twenty-five years of marriage, there most certainly is a relationship at work when owning and running a small business. Savané Silver is so small that it consists of myself as President of Savané Silver inc, manager, designer, producer, customer care specialist, bookkeeper assistant (I pay a real bookkeeper to do the important part, but it's all based on information I provide), acquisitions manager (purchasing metal, stones, store supplies as well as hunting for driftwood for displays), merchandising expert (building display interiors with driftwood), administrative assistant, communications and marketing specialist: emails, FaceBook messages, phone calls, social media comments, Google review replies (please and thank you - a Google Review is the most valuable review I can receive), cleaning lady ... this is where fatigue sets in ... Full disclosure: I have had part-time employees who have helped run the shop, clean the shop, do social media posts and website work.
My point in listing my duties is to demonstrate the intimacy of my connection to Savané Silver. I have built every part of "Her". She exists because I brought her to life. Folks have been asking, "Oh! 25 years! Congratulations! What is the date of your anniversary?" That is a very logical inquiry when comparing this silver anniversary to a wedding date. However, the origin story has chapters. In the summer of 1995 my old college roommate, Avery, came to visit me in Lexington, KY for the weekend. While I was distracted caring for my one year old child, she picked up the newspaper to see what events might be happening around town.
Woodland Art Fair was on and so close to my house that we could walk. At the art fair was a woman who made silver jewelry and when I looked around her booth I said, maybe in my head, maybe out loud, "I know how she made every single thing in here!" I asked her if she was making a living as an artist. I don't know what her reply may have been because in my head it was clearly a resounding "YES!" She was kind enough to give me her business card.
In June of 1996 my child, Bangaly Savané, turned two years old. I was growing weary of the question, "Are you his mother?" because my name was Rachel Gibson and, let's be honest, my child is biracial. I announced to my husband, Mamadou Savané, that I was ready to change my name. "Why?" he asked. In Guinea, his home country, people do not change their name, rather they would simply call me Madame Savané as my title to denote that I am married to a Savané, but would say my name is Rachel Gibson. I told my husband that I wanted us to be an obvious family.
That same month in my free time working a secretarial job, I was doodling. I love the shape of an S and I love the letter V in Savané, and of course, the accent is chic. Hey look, there is another S and V in the word "silver"!
The idea was certainly taking shape by coming up with a business name and my desire to make things is a constant itch. Sewing was my available media since I had a machine and was doing projects for the woman who sold me the machine and for a neighbor as well.
I referred to the business card of the woman I had met at the art fair a year prior and called her up to ask if I could come and see her studio to remind myself of the tools necessary to do silver fabrication, the techniques I learned at University of Illinois where I earned a BFA in Metals eight years earlier. She graciously allowed me to come to her studio and I took notes and asked where she ordered supplies, tools and silver. More notes. I thanked her and went, excitedly, on my way.
Having been raised to be independent and personally responsible, it was not an obvious move to ask my parents for financial assistance, but I did it anyway. They gave me $1000 to get a studio set up. My husband and I had bought the house in 1994 the same month our first child was born, Bangaly arrived six weeks early, so we weren't moved in and settled as we had planned (best laid plans...) when he was born. The key to this house was a basement and I claimed a corner of the unfinished part to be my studio. So exciting. I love the word "studio".
Later that same summer the jewelry artist passed my name and number on to Tim Glotzbach, metals professor at EKU (Eastern KY University), who was compiling a list of jewelers operating in the eastern part of the state. Tim contacted me and asked if he could come and meet me. I brought out my college work to show and he critiqued the work. Critique! I always loved critique because it is the method by which artists analyze themselves and others. Tim told me about the juried art fair scene and guided me in how to apply to them. I did not hesitate and was set for my first juried show, albeit a very rudimentary set-up it was. That show was in January of 1997, Kentucky Crafted: The Market at the Fair and Expo Center in Louisville, KY, a wholesale and retail show. All I remember is that I sold a few pieces and decided to quit my secretarial job so I could have enough time to prepare for the next art fair.
From here I could go on and tell art fair stories, but that feels like a whole other blog! I have long thought of the summer of 1996 as the beginning of Savané Silver. The summer that I changed my name, doodled a logo, set up a studio, started producing silver jewelry and applied to juried art fairs. That secretarial position was the last job of my life. Joy in creating and some slim years followed. This very day that I am writing this blog I had a customer in my shop who was one who purchased from me at my house more than 20 years ago. She brought her special dress, laid it out on the dining room table and we picked a butterscotch amber pendant and earrings to go with it. So many years, so many stories of this business I love with all my heart. Here's to 25 more!
If I have spurred any questions in your mind as you read this, please ask! --Rachel