Artist Institute Inspires
By Helene Foster
Jackie Kaufman and her husband were successfully selling women’s fashions at retail locations inside South Florida malls just three years ago. But Jackie’s entrepreneurial spirit made her seek something more than her kiosks could give her.
She joined a jewelry making class at a local high school and studied the ancient practice of “lost-wax casting,” a method that is often referred to as cire perdue - where an artist’s intricate sculpture can be cast in metals such as silver, brass, bronze or gold and used for jewelry and wearable art.
As she learned and perfected her skills, Kaufman looked for unique ways to market her new and exciting line of jewelry. Thus, her “Rock My World” line was born.
To hone her business savvy, she joined a program offered by the Broward County Cultural Division. She attended the Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute - a four week course held on Saturdays. She learned alongside other artists, musicians, writers and performers, but was the only fine artist in attendance at the time.
“I joined the program because I was at a certain level in my business and I was trying to take my business to the next level,” says the Parkland resident. “I learned from guest speakers how to write a business plan and how to make the most of it.” Her business plan then went on to be in the top seven plans out of 220 submissions honored by The Miami Herald in a recent business plan competition.
“I wanted to really learn how to market what I wanted to do with my jewelry,” she says. She found that the program was of tremendous benefit.
The Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute helps artists of all disciplines to strengthen and expand their businesses. The next session was set to begin this June. Since the program began, 192 artists in South Florida have taken part and graduated from the Institute. The program was developed by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), which has provided business training for over 400 artists.
Kaufman’s next step included creating unique heirlooms and incorporating human fingerprints into the design. Her new venture is called “My Forever Print.” She was inspired to try something new and also to think “outside the box” by guest speakers who addressed the students at the Institute.
“No two fingerprints are alike,” she explains. “The fingerprints bring more personalization to the jewelry. I sell a lot to people whose loved ones are ill and they want to wear a remembrance of their loved ones.”
Humans are not the only ones with unique “prints” that make for creative keepsakes. Kaufman was asked by a client to cast a pet owner’s dog’s nose prints. At first she was worried that the prints would not be a high quality for the process, but she was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the canine’s nose print and now helps other dog and cat lovers wear artwork featuring their pet’s nose prints and paw prints.
“There is not a lot of competition in fingerprint jewelry. All of our work is handmade and it takes a few weeks to turn pieces around,” she says. Her works are particularly popular on Etsy, an online marketplace for a variety of items. It also provides a forum for discussions and advice as well as tremendous exposure for catalogs and a variety of publications. Having incorporated the Internet into her business, she has found many new customers and fans around the world. Her pieces were highlighted in Dog Fancy magazine and her animal paw print jewelry, key chains and belt buckles and more will be featured in the Uncommon Goods catalog this Fall. Additionally, her website was featured in a business segment about successfully starting a business for under $150 on ABC News in February.