Beading and Jewelry
Cassandra Spicer made art her business. And business? It's pretty good.
Cassandra owns and operates Beads to Live By in downtown Jackson, a nice corner store on Mechanic St. There, she sells beads, materials, and jewelry-making kits, and holds classes to teach others how to make jewelry.
Along the way she's found success in embracing the practical side of her artistic talents, from taking advice of local business owners, and from years of building a knowledge base in her particular art.
The art part wasn't always so clear for Cassandra. In college, at Spring Arbor University, she pivoted from a fine arts major to taking classes in business and marketing.
“I realized very quickly that being a studio art major would be a lot of fun for the artistic side of me,” she says. “But I still had practical parts of me that needed to know things about business and finance.”
Cassandra also found that she was too much of a social butterfly to sit in a studio, alone, working on art.
That, combined with years of working at Bead Culture in downtown Jackson, helped prepare her to be the artistic entrepreneur she is. Now she sells beading supplies and teaches classes to enthusiasts, and that tickles the social part of her artistic nature. Running a business is a bit of an art, too, because there are always new people to reach and convert to the beading hobby.
It wasn't a sure thing in the beginning, but Cassandra thinks running Beads To Live By (with her husband Chris) is what she was meant to do.
“EVERYONE HAS THAT IN LIFE, WHETHER IT'S ARTISTIC OR NOT, TO LEAVE THEIR MARK ON THE WORLD.
THIS IS MY WAY.”
“I always felt led - there was a directional pull to open this business,” she says. “And every turn we took, a door opened.”
Cassandra doesn't just do beads and jewelry. She keeps the creative part of her brain busy with artistic projects. She finds inspiration in the works of others, trending fashions, and even Moroccan influences.
“Seeing a pattern, or texture, or something in nature - it's one of the ways I come up with a design,” Cassandra says.
And no matter how much she tried to get away -- at one time, she was an admission counselor for Career Quest -- she always comes back to beads.
“It's a gravitational pull,” she says. “Some kind of need. Everyone has that in life, whether it's artistic or not, to leave their mark on the world. This is my way.”
To her, Jackson's artistic community is talented and selfless, tirelessly giving back to the community, and to each other, working hard to get their work out in the world.
“A lot of artists don’t care as much about the money as they do about getting their stuff out there,” Cassandra says. “So we have so many venues where you can share your work with others.”
The challenges that artists face in town? Those aren't unique to Jackson, Cassandra says. Every town has its issues.
She stays in Jackson because of the people: her family, her friends, the connections she's made in the community. Jackson has a great combination of convenient location and affordable living.
“Living and working downtown for so many years, I want to see downtown Jackson be all it can be,” Cassandra says. “If you don't have this great mix of people, like we do here, there's no soul.”