For jewelry designer Issa Mars, “built to last” is more than just a phrase. Issa literally builds a legacy every day in her workshop, crafting thoughtful pieces from precious metals and gemstones. It is this thought — the idea that her creations will live on for years to come — that weaves meaning and intention into everything that crosses Issa’s hands.
That same spirit resonates in another thing Issa’s created: her website! We were struck by her perspective on jewelry design (hello, unique engagement ring ideas), all displayed so perfectly in the minimalistic style. Issa turned to Squarespace to build an online presence that allowed for function and beauty, all the while telling the story of the heart behind her brand. We had a chance to sit down and chat with Issa to learn more about her inspiration, what’s ahead for the year, and her advice for aspiring small business owners.
And, psst: if you want to start building a website for your own business idea, Squarespace is offering 10% off your first purchase to GWS readers! Just use the code: GWS18
Allow us to introduce you to Issa Mars!
Tell us about your business.
ISSA: I design and hand-form fine jewelry through the ancient art of goldsmithing. I sell my work on my website, wholesale, and at my physical shop in Buffalo, NY. My jewelry is one-of-a-kind, and made of recycled precious metals including silver, gold of all karats, conflict-free gemstones, and recycled diamonds. I recently expanded my offerings in addition to my jewelry, with other sustainable objects and entities of natural materials that are either vintage, handmade, or of the earth.
I day dream about my jewelry being worn by people in the present, in past times, and the future as well, and the pinch me factor is that this is not just a day dream, it is really happening.
How do you stand out in a crowded market space?
ISSA: I try to stay true to myself in my own world of beauty and creation, and my ethos of honesty and sustainability. I am currently a one-woman show who is designing and forming everything myself by hand, or am hand selecting and curating objects of other mediums that align with my fine jewelry and practice.
A favorite quote of mine by Anais Nin often rings through my head and heart: “Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.” It sounds a bit dark, but in retrospect to this day and age of the market, it could not be more true. I hone in on what speaks to my soul. You cannot compare yourself to others or try to be like them; you have to stay true to yourself, create your own world, and your people will come. And while you’re waiting for them, you can exist in a place that feeds your mind, body, and soul in the purest form.
I draw inspiration the natural, simple and imperfect. The great mystery of the universe and beyond fuel my imagination. The amazing thing about jewelry is that it can literally last forever. I day dream about my jewelry being worn by people in the present, in past times, and the future as well, and the pinch me factor is that this is not just a day dream, it is really happening.
When did you launch your Squarespace site?
ISSA: I launched my site a few years ago, in the spring of 2015.
I couldn’t believe that this tool was available for me to use.
How has this site changed or impacted your business?
ISSA: My site, through Squarespace, has allowed me to expand and put forth my work to reach people where it couldn’t have reached so smoothly and quickly otherwise. I created this site while I was finishing college for metal and jewelry design, and was most definitely on a budget. I couldn’t believe that this tool was available for me to use. A stunning tool to design and make my own space on the internet. One that represented my vision and identity to others, giving me complete control to change and rearrange whenever, and however, I wanted.
For this reason, I will always remain a loyal user no matter what stage my business is in. It’s amazing and humbling to see how many people and in different places all over the globe have viewed my website through the analytics feature.
What are your plans/goals for the upcoming year?
ISSA: I have plans of creating online editorials through different photo shoots that coincide with new collections launches twice a year. Customers will be able to buy pieces directly through the editorial pages, as well as my shop page. This will further enhance the story of my work, meeting the imaginary space I envision for each collection and giving others a chance to witness more of that story beyond the jewelry.
I go through phases of what I feel like really speaks and works as my homepage, and like to switch it up, always with the shop page being one of the main focuses.
What have you found to have the most impact when designing your site?
ISSA: Focus on one thing at a time, and less is more. For example, I create each page and work on it until it feels ready to make visible. After that, I will add (and sometimes take away) pages. I go through phases of what I feel like really speaks and works as my homepage and like to switch it up, always keeping the shop page the main focus. I save past pages I’ve remove in case I want to use them again. I use the same font through out my entire website for fluidity and keep the same grayscale tones to make it easy to read and navigate, and creates an opportunity for the images to be the loudest asset.
What template did you use?
ISSA: The template that I use is Avenue.
…although your business is a large part of you, it is not all of you, always make sure you are tending to all parts of your life so that you don’t become depleted.
How about for advice for those launching a new/revamped website?
ISSA: The first website that you launch doesn’t have to be the last. The beauty of using Squarespace is that you have the option of viewing, working, and editing on a new or revamped site even through multiple templates. Always be open to change while staying true to your vision. You can add and edit as you go along. Take eyeball and mental breaks while working on your new site and don’t be scared to ask a trusted person in your life for a second opinion. The great thing about asking for advice is that it is your choice whether or not to take it.
On that subject, what advice would you give someone launching their business?
ISSA: Have an open mind. Like I mentioned before, try not be too hard on yourself and stay true to your vision but also be open to change. It doesn’t have to be perfect to start, so start small and grow from there. Your business will always be evolving. Also, remember that although your business is a large part of you, it is not all of you. Make sure you are tending to all parts of your life so that you don’t become depleted. Life is too short, so start now!
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