Today we’d like to introduce you to Leah Sachs, Eric Shannon.
Leah and Eric, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It all began with an orange honestly. I wore my orange earrings out and about and everyone kept stopping me wherever I went, asking me if they were real and if they could touch them! I realized people were just as fascinated by the orange earrings as I was, so I started making them for other people and selling them at music festivals and to friends. I am obsessed with the patterns in nature and wanted to wear all the different fruits and vegetables on my ears! After only making orange earrings and necklaces for a while I wanted to try something different. I had all these ideas for different produce I wanted to wear, like making earrings out of dragon fruits and mushrooms, and I started turning those ideas into a reality.
I was working at different marketing agencies and nonprofits at the time and I felt really burnt out from all the computer work, so making the fruit jewelry became an outlet for me to be creative and work with my hands. It’s very therapeutic for me to make the slices, so it really helped me to relax, expand my mind and open up to a more creative side of myself that I wasn’t utilized in the office. From then on I started putting all my energy into the business we now call Slices Of Citrus. A few years later, my partner, Eric jumped on board and really helped me make my process more efficient and organized.
It helped so much having an extra set of hands and another mind to bounce ideas off of with. Eric really facilitated a lot of expansion and growth for the company with his woodworking, design and organizational skills. He built displays for our artwork so that we could use them at events and made a lot of my ideas become realities, especially with the art. With one person I was able to make all types of fruit and vegetable jewelry, but with two people we were able to increase production and create art on top of that, which was a huge goal of ours. He even built a custom conversion van for us to travel to events so that we could expand our business into other states! Now we co-own and operate the business together, full-time!
We are vendors at farmers markets all over Colorado and travel all over the country doing different artisan shows and plant-based events. We sell wholesale to a handful of shops around the country & work hard to promote our message of #SustainableFashion and Art since we use tree sap to preserve everything we make! Every piece takes about two weeks to make and each piece of art is handmade with love by Eric and myself. Promoting eco-friendly art has really inspired us to want to take care of our Earth more and wearing nature’s patterns is a fun way for us to promote sustainability and showcase our creativity.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When I first started it was not easy. I had to create and teach myself the entire process of turning real fruits & vegetables into jewelry which was new and exciting but also a lot of hard work. There were years of trial and error with trying different fruits & vegetables and I had to play around with different methods to find out what would work best to create my desired outcome. Luckily, anything we messed up on we just ate, which is still true today, But the biggest obstacle was figuring out how to avoid working with resin. When I first started out I would hand paint each slice in resin, but it was so unbelievably toxic to work with that it was messing with my brain function and I was getting sick from the fumes even with carbon filtered mask. A lot of times I don’t think we realize how toxic making art can be! My idea was to highlight nature’s pattern’s through jewelry and art, but it seemed contradictory to encase the organic produce with resin since it was affecting me negatively and the chemicals were bad for the environment as well. I was doing this full-time so I had to figure out how to make money with my craft while also attempting to completely reinvent my process and make it better for me and for the environment. That was extremely difficult. It took a lot of money, time and patience to figure it out. I had to really brainstorm and research and try over and over and over again to create something that would have a nice finish, but that was also not bad for me or the Earth. Ultimately, reinventing my process taught Eric & I to become more sustainable in our everyday lives and with all our of our business practices.
Another thing that was very difficult was selling fruit jewelry to people who had never seen it before. At the festivals, I was selling my jewelry at there were a lot of like-minded people who thought it was a cool idea but then when we began to expand our market we were trying to sell to all different types of people who weren’t sure what to make of real fruit & vegetable jewelry. Truly, It took years to gain our customers. Whenever you create something original people don’t realize you have to create your own market for your product, so that was a challenge for sure! There weren’t a ton of people interested in wearing oranges on their ears, but as we started selling at more events and farmer’s markets people began to take an interest and wanted to support our local business!
We really believe in the power of positive energy and the law of attraction. Manifest your dreams into realities! Envision what you want your business to become and try to be patient and keep a positive mindset!
What you give is what you ultimately will receive and you will end up meeting other small businesses along the way that will offer you bits and pieces of advice that you can use to help you grow. Just keep believing in yourself and treat others how you want to be treated. Surely that energy will make its way back to you!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Slices Of Citrus story. Tell us more about the business.
Slices Of Citrus is an eco-friendly real fruit & vegetable jewelry company based out of Denver, CO. We have a passion for preserving nature’s beauty and turning it into jewelry and art that adds a little extra sweetness to all of our customers’ lives!
We use organic produce, such as mushrooms from local farmers, strawberries, oranges and dragon fruits & turn them into earrings, necklaces and art using tree sap to preserve them! Our creations take us about 2 weeks to make and each piece is handmade with love by the two of us! We make mushroom terrariums, citrus picture frames, and tons of other art on top of the jewelry that we take with us to events all over the country.
We work really hard at our craft so that our customers can feel, see and wear the beautiful patterns that nature has to offer without adding to the Fast Fashion industry! We are very passionate about the environment, so we created an upcycling program to offer our customers. We encourage our customers to send us back their jewelry if the coloring fades naturally over time, and in exchange, we offer them money off their next purchase and turn their old jewelry into art or compost. We also sell & ship via Etsy, which uses carbon-offset shipping, so any carbon emissions released into our atmosphere as a result of us shipping our items are invested into projects that reduce carbon emissions by the same amount.
Lastly, for the past two months, we have donated 20% of our profits towards aid for the Amazon Fires in Bolivia. We will continue to support initiatives that are beneficial to our planet and the environment as we see fit. Purchase with purpose & support Slices Of Citrus!
Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
My advice for other young women starting their journey is NEVER. GIVE. UP. Stay driven, stay grounded and stay inspired! For years people didn’t take me seriously and laughed at me when I said this is what I was doing full time, but I believed in myself and I believed in my idea and I just never stopped making art no matter what. You have to just put yourself out there and take a chance — a lot of chances! Don’t worry about what other people think of you, your age, or what you are doing. If you are doing something you love just keep doing it & don’t let anyone’s opinions ever stop you! People may not understand what you are doing but that is no reason to stop doing what you love! Take it from a couple that makes fruit jewelry for a living. 🙂
- Earrings/Necklaces – 25-30
- Crystal Slices 45+
- Mushroom Terrariums 65+
- Website: http://www.slicesofcitrus.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/slicesofcitrus/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlicesOfCitrus/
Eric Shannon, Leah Sachs