We had the good fortune of connecting with Haley DiBassie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Haley, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
In grade school, while my peers were involved in sports and other club activities, I preferred to lose myself in “arts and crafts.” Then in middle school and high school, I used writing and playing instruments as ways to be creative. In college, while I was studying to be a nurse, I turned to art more seriously and used it as a way to decompress and even meditate, a practice that’s stayed with me throughout the years (and mediums!). Finally, like many people during the pandemic, I got laid off from my primary job at a clinic. I immediately turned to creating as a way to combat the stress of the virus, of being unemployed, of feeling the world shift beneath our feet. It was then that I realized how art, and creating art, has always been there for me. It’s been a way for me to escape, and more importantly, a way for me to express myself and share who I am with others, in ways which can’t be done with words. Once I made this realization, it felt natural to pursue a creative career and allow myself to grow as an artist. It has been challenging in many ways, but I’m grateful that I took a chance on myself to embrace this part of who I am, and even more grateful that so many people have supported me and my art along the way.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I almost exclusively work with polymer clay in my business, and while I make other clay creations here and there, I primarily stick to making lightweight, hypoallergenic clay earrings with an eclectic/maximalist style. I realize how cheesy this sounds, but I think what sets my earrings apart from other makers’ earrings is that I (figuratively) put a piece of myself in the earrings that I create. When I’m creating, I don’t necessarily create with the intention of making-just-to-sell, but rather, making something that encapsulates a feeling, or a season, or a “vibe”—if you will. I try to follow trends, but I also tend to do things like releasing hot pink holographic styles in the middle of fall, because that’s where my creativity took me. I think the people who support me recognize the authenticity and humanity in that approach.
Honestly, giving myself permission to get started with this business was one of the hardest parts. Once I realized it was something I deeply wanted to do, I quickly talked myself out of it. I would think to myself “Well there are already these amazing people who are doing it, what makes me think that I have a shot?” I knew the self-doubt was something I’d have to overcome if I wanted to be successful. The reality is that there are SO many talented, creative, makers out there putting out polymer clay earrings, AND there’s enough room at the table for all of us. We all bring something to the table that is uniquely our own. Sharing your art with the world is something that takes a lot of vulnerability, and I think a certain level of self-doubt is natural with that. So, I’d be lying if I said I was completely past it, because it does still creep up now and then. But consistently showing up for this business and continuing to put myself out there to welcome feedback, criticism, and support alike has definitely put me closer to where I want to be.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many to mention and I know I’m going to miss a few! We would definitely go to a museum—probably The Menil Collection since it’s free and there’s a lot to do in the Montrose area. After that, we’d walk to Agora and get a coffee and a snack before walking around and visiting the local antique shops. For dinner, we’d likely go to Riva’s Italian (delicious, authentic, HUGE portions) or Brasil depending on what we’re in the mood for, and go to La Grange afterward to enjoy drinks on the rooftop. You also can’t go wrong with just picking up some tacos from Taconazo or spending the weekend at any of the flea markets on Airline and grabbing snacks from Flamingo’s. I love Houston because it has something for everybody, and for any type of day you want to have.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When I first started creating polymer clay jewelry, there weren’t many books, YouTube tutorials, or even supplies, out there (that has since changed drastically!). PolymerClayTutor on YouTube was a great resource for learning about polymer clay as a medium, although the nuances of jewelry making with polymer clay aren’t focused on in that channel. However, there was 1 Instagram account, @Friclay, that has been there since the beginning. While the account has now been on an extended break, it was definitely one of the first spaces where budding polymer clay jewelry artists like myself could find community and encouragement. Above all, though, I want to dedicate my shoutout to anyone who’s ever followed me on social media, purchased my earrings, or shared my art with their friends. I sincerely would not be able to do this without their support.
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