Today I have the great honor to introduce this week's Personality Prints interviewee, Brandy Sinclair of Sinclair Jewelry, and her three bunnies (Chewey, Betty and Fluffy) and two cats (Simon and Pasha). I met Brandy for the first time at the beginning of this year at an entrepreneurial mastermind, and was so captivated when she told me that she helps people time travel. You see, she designs and makes historic jewelry that is out of this world.
Brandy learned to draw when she was young, and used to help her elderly grandfather make drawings for his inventions. Today, she posts a new jewelry design on Instagram every single day. Each piece, a work of art. Once she transforms the drawing into reality her husband Brian, cuts the perfect stone and prepare it for Brandy's custom designed pieces.
Together they participate in PENNSIC, Pittsburgh Ren Fest and many other festivals each year. After visiting Brandy's workshop I have to say that I have never seen a more inspiring workspace. I hope that you'll enjoy getting to know the Sinclair Family, and a peek into a day in the life of a historic jewelry maker.
Tell me where you can be found (web, Fb etc).
Tell me a little bit about your business.
The aim of Sinclair Jewelry is to make jewelry that connects you to the past. We base our pieces on surviving jewelry in museum collections, and from what we see in period portraits. I do the research, the designing and the metalwork. My husband Brian does the stonecutting and bead drilling, but I'll often ask for his input during my parts of the design or fabrication work.
We can usually be found selling our work at reenactment events through the SCA, but we also sell at a lot of craft and art fairs in and around Pittsburgh.
Tell me about your pets. How did they come into your life?
Brandy: Chewey, Betty and Fluffy are the current three in a long line of bunnies. We lost Lucky, Chewey's husbun, very suddenly at the beginning of the year. Chewey was devastated, as we all were, and she stopped eating. Since not eating can lead to stasis, which is fatal in rabbits, the next day we took her to the Western PA Humane Society on the North Side. It was Saturday, so they were having their bunny romp and we were able to see if Chewey wanted to find a new friend amongst their available buns. To our surprise, she didn't want another husbun and instead picked out a pair of sisters, Betty and Fluffy, to bring home.
As for the buns, Chewey is the bravest of the three, and will readily give out kisses. She's also the most prone to mischief because she's the best jumper and an escape artist. But she knows how to turn on the cute, and that no matter how much trouble she gets into we can't be annoyed at her for long. She's always up for nose rubs and cheek scritches, too.
Betty is the sassy one, and what she lacks in fluff she more than makes up for in attitude! She loves to play Tug with her wicker toys, and will growl and shake them when she finally yanks them out of your hand. She likes to loaf next to us and get ear scritches while we read.
Fluffy is, well, incredibly fluffy and one of the most laid-back bunnies I've ever met. She's not really into toys but she does like to dig and shred boxes. Her favorite thing (aside from eating) is to lie in a cool place and have you pet her for as long as your arm can tolerate it.
They all get along with the cats, which is good because Simon likes to jump into their pens and nap with them.
Brian: Pasha first entered our lives as a stray kitten in the neighborhood. Our cat at the time, Bentley, had taken to defending her from other strays by hissing dramatically from the porch above them. His threats worked, and soon we were able to take Pasha to the shelter where she stayed for 3 weeks until she was healthy enough to go home. Since nobody claimed her and she wasn’t microchipped, we jumped at the chance to adopt the first cat that Bentley ever got along with. We quickly found that she’s a very happy, loving cat who will cuddle and hug, demand you play music for her, and ride around on the shoulders of people she trusts. She’s also very fast, and when chasing a string you sometimes will hear her feet squeak on the hardwood floor. It sounds like a basketball court.
Simon joined us a few months ago. We went to shelter and, like they say, you don’t choose the pet, the pet chooses you. As soon as Simon was in my arms, he hunkered down and didn’t want to leave. An hour later we were home with one of the strangest cats we’ve ever known. We first began to suspect something when we learned how much he loves to play fetch. We found the perfect ‘fetch toy,’ a #3 blending stump, and had to buy a dozen of them because they’d get full of teeth marks and come apart. Then there’s the way that he follows us around the house, or chases his tail. And he doesn’t meow, exactly. It’s more of a gravelly ‘meurr.’ Mornings are great though, because he’s very patient and lovey when I wake up, at least until I get downstairs to where the food bowl is. Then it’s “Meurr! Meurr! Meurr! Meurr!” like a grumpy old man until he gets his breakfast. I love it! But the best is his fur. He has such wonderfully soft, thick fur and he loves pets. If somehow I'm destined for Death By Tribbles, I hope that the tribbles feel like Simon.
Do you and your pets share personality traits that have helped you in life/business?
Brandy: Oh, yeah! *laughs* If there's something in a bun's way, they will go under it, around it, over it or just chew and dig their way through it until they get to what they want. In humans that's normally called "stubborn," but I prefer "determined" or "tenacious."
We also wear our hearts on our sleeves. We have terrible poker faces.
Brian: If I had to say that there’s any major personality characteristic that I share with my cats, it’s knowing when to take a nap. That’s been a critical thing for me and the success of my pursuits because of my life-long battle with depression. Previously, I would fight the depression and the lethargy that comes with it by working 16 to 20 hour days. Unfortunately, the severe sleep deprivation only made things worse and I would often crash for days at a time, sleeping a ton and having no motivation to do anything. Everything would fall apart. Maintaining a healthy amount of sleep, along with medications, have helped bring me back from the depression. It’s still a struggle though, and I often find myself needing to stay up later than I expect. Being able to hug a kitty and say “OK, I need to sleep for a bit,” is another soft, fuzzy, and critical part of maintaining my mental health so that I can keep working.
How does your pets support you and or inspire you and your business?
Brandy: In addition to all the bunny tenacity, they also know how to relax and play. I can't walk by a bunny without at least talking to them for a bit, which usually leads to pets, which sometimes leads to a spontaneous bunny break. The buns also keep me happy, because no matter what goes wrong at the workbench, I just can't be in a bad mood when I look at them. I mean, those little wiggling noses and bright, curious eyes and big fuzzy ears - They're just so cute! I can't help but smile.
Brian: The animals all play an important role in helping me not work all the time. But when it comes to working, the biggest is Pasha. She has the most important job, which is laying across my shoulders while I’m cutting cabochons. Sometimes she takes breaks from that (it’s a tiring, and sometimes wet, job) and curls up on the wool blanket I’ve set in the windowsill on the other side of the cabbing machine. When she’s not helping with the cabbing, she’s frequently on basement-spider duty or keeping a sleepy eye on the rocks I usually have strewn about. Whatever the tasks at hand, she’s always excited to follow me into the basement* and it brings a smile to my face each time. But when it comes to not working, she and Simon are always there for me when I need them, curled up, fast asleep, and someplace where I can hug them for as long as I need.
*Simon’s afraid of the basement, but he’s always happy to keep me company at my computer.
Do you have a favorite quote that you live by?
Brian doesn't have a quote, but I do. My favorite quote is a line from Doug Wright's play about the Marquis de Sade, "Quills". The Marquis says to the priest, who is trying to keep him from writing, "Where there's a will, there's a way. And a maniac is matchless for invention."