By Antoinette Rahn, Managing Editor
From the Editor: We are connecting with our regular advertisers during this time of self-quarantine in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, to learn how they are spending this time and to learn a bit more about them and their business.
David Lee Smith and his wife, Sue, owners of SilverSmithingClass.com, are familiar with the patience, perseverance, and practical hopefulness needed to create and operate a business focused on personal passions.
After working in a few different careers, the couple opened Beads Amore’ in Indianapolis in 2001, with Sue at the helm. Through opening the business and working with customers to create jewelry, David rediscovered a creative passion he enjoyed as a teen, building metal art. With the country’s economic struggles of 2008 and 2009, business at the bead shop dropped to a point where the Smiths’ could not keep the doors open unless they found another source of income, David explained.
2020-2021 Class Schedule Update: SilverSmithingClass.com is hosting beginner classes, in small-group settings with safety measures in place, with space available in sessions set for the end of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. Visit SilverSmithingClass.com to view the schedule and learn more.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and with the future of their business hanging in the balance, David contacted various bead stores across the United States, inquiring as to whether they would welcome him to teach silversmithing classes at their stores. The response was tremendously positive and thus began a busy travel schedule for David, who regularly taught at 33 stores, from 2009 until 2018. During this time, unfortunately, the Smiths had to close their bead store, at which point the couple decided it was time to move back to the West Coast.
The Smiths’ purchased a home on Saunders Lake in Oregon, and although it wasn’t supposed to be a fixer-upper, it was, David said.
“One hundred thousand dollars later and lots of sweat equity, it is really quite nice, with 280-degree lake views from just about every room,” he added.
About the time the renovation was complete, David needed to cut back on his travel and teaching schedule. This occurred as almost all of the bead stores he visited and taught at were going out of business. As David explains, the small craft bead business never seemed to fully recover following the economic challenges of 2008 and 2009.
With this shift in their industry, the Smiths’ developed SilverSmithingClass.com and the Silversmithing Retreat. This is another example of perseverance at work in the life and career of this couple. Now, the Smiths' host silversmithing retreats in their home studio, and travel to Las Vegas and Sacramento a few times a year to teach.
In addition to operating their home-shop-studio in North Bend, Oregon, the couple sells and ships products such as videos, and tools via the www.silversmithingclass.com website. During the nation's period of self-quarantine, the Smiths have been using the time to learn new linking techniques and SEO to implement on their website, as well as developing new Silversmithing Retreat on the Lake promo materials and manufacturing new tools for the jewelry industry, specifically bezel setting cabochons.
Hear from David himself...
We asked David a few additional questions to help us get to know this seasoned silversmith and teacher better.
Rock & Gem: When people ask what you do for a living, what’s your response?
David Smith: I teach people how to make awesome jewelry out of silver and stones.
RG: Who or what is one of the greatest sources of inspiration for you, and why?
DS: Bill Gates inspired me to succeed without a formal college education, by his success without a (formal) degree.
RG: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
DS: Focus your time on the task at hand and don’t get distracted by the unimportant or things you cannot change.
RG: In terms of business operations, what are some of the things you’ve come up with to ‘ride the tide’ during this time of self-quarantine in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
DS: I have also spent time developing a production line for my new item of equipment, the “Superior Soldering Tripod,” and am now working on the marketing for it and our retreats.
RG: What is one thing for which you are most grateful?
DS: My wife Sue has been my solid rock for the last 17 years in many ways, including being an exceptionally good cook. Even when things are tough, if you have good food and a stable household, things go so much easier.
RG: Think back to when you were a child, what was one of your favorite things to do, and what made it special?
DS: Even in early childhood I was always building things. Blocks, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, hot rods, race cars, and eventually houses and then jewelry. I have supervised many different types of manufacturing workers and loved the teaching part of it. So, teaching and making tools (form) my sweet spot.
For More Information
Online: www.silversmithingclass.com and www.silversmithingretreat.com