We had the good fortune of connecting with Zeli Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Zeli, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The thought process behind starting my own business was a combination of necessity because of my lifestyle and health problems. Living overseas as a military wife who has to pick up and move often created an environment for me to think outside of the box when it came to my career. I needed something that I could take with me and not necessarily have to star all over again. Using my gift of craftsmanship has come so naturally throughout the years so the business has to involve handmade items such as art and clay jewelry. I never thought I could turn it into a career, but I have never been happier. 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Since arriving on the scene in 2012, I have worked to capture and intrigue the art community with my portrait paintings. Gathering much of my inspiration from personal tales, the environment, cultures around the world and my muses, people. My pieces embody some of my own life experiences, which has led me to work with artists and clients around the world to assist with specific works. Being a military wife has come with many challenges as my goals and dreams have been put aside many times so that the military mission comes first. But art has been my outlet and has allowed me to shine on my own. Covid was a struggle because I had to cancel all of my social art classes. That was the means of us paying off our son’s adoption. We were putting in all the money from my art into the adoptions fund. But as they say you need to keep your eyes peeled and mind open to new opportunities. So I did, I began making polymer clay earrings to sell in my online shop and fast forward to now, these collections sell out within minutes! I have centered my ideas on one of a kind pieces. I try not making copies of any pair of earrings that way you really do own a one of a kind handmade with love piece when you purchase from my shop. One lesson I learned is never stop learning, as cheesy as it sounds. It is important to become a master of your craft and for me I can say I will die trying to become a master. I love striving for knowledge and wisdom in my personal and spiritual life and as a craftsman we too need to strife to learn new methods and ways of making our product better. But the best lesson I learned from Covid and everything shutting down has been to be open to changing directions, be brave, be relentless and never stop giving it your all!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am all about the vegan and handmade life so I would definitely first go get lunch at a vegan cafe, then go to a local art museum to check out new and classic art. Being out in nature is a must so spend the afternoons visiting local parks or animal sanctuaries, you always meet very interesting people doing what they love in places like these. I love watching passionate people working on the things they love, they have a certain sparkle in their eye. Now more than ever it has become important to spend time in less crowded places so national parks have become a must during this pandemic. Another fun thing to do is go to cultural museums and learn about the local culture.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My small shop has recently taken a life of its own! When covid happened I transitioned my business from teaching social art classes and selling art on the side to handmade clay earrings. I am a part of a Tuesday night entrepreneur group that’s based off of the Rising Tide Society, led by the most amazing hosts Kate and Joe. We believe in community over competition and that our society can become stronger together as we all encourage one another in our business practices. This group in the short amount of time I have attended has really impacted the way I look at my own business and that has made a world of difference. I love that the group is made up of artists like myself, photographers, bloggers, bakers, candle makers, makeup artists, fashion stylists and yet we all find ways of encouraging one another and not letting anyone give up. I believe every entrepreneur should be a part of the Rising Tide Society in some way shape of form.

Website: www.zelirodriguez.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/zeli.art
Facebook: www.facebook.com/paintwithzeli

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.