Superman earrings and a creative outlet

Wendy Anderson has created a successful jewelry business, Little Wendy Bird, out of her home. She creates jewelry out of patterned fabric. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Wendy Anderson has created a successful jewelry business, Little Wendy Bird, out of her home. She creates jewelry out of patterned fabric. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

It can be tough to find the perfect set of earrings to match a personality, but Wendy Anderson doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.

Anderson, 27 of Brownsdale, is the owner of Little Wendy Bird, a business that came about from a Do-It-Yourself Christmas present. The shop sells earrings, necklaces, thumb tacks, badge reels, cufflinks and more. The items vary in style from vintage, lace-covered earrings to funky superheroes and “Star Wars” characters.

“I’m finding there’s so many women that are into superheroes and just those ‘gender specific’ things, and so for them to find things that they can wear and still be ‘them,’ with the earrings and such, that’s awesome,” Anderson said. “I think I love that people can still be unique and ‘them’ but it’s not anything crazy.”

Something even more unique about Little Wendy Bird’s items? The jewelry and items are covered in patterned fabric.

“A lot of the fabric is vintage or recycled, some of it is new, some of it I get printed from an online source,” Anderson said.

Anderson creates much of the items in her office at her home, and though she receives plenty of support from friends and family, she usually works alone. She does bring plenty of help with her on the road, though, as she travels to as many craft sales as she can fit into her schedule. She also sells her jewelry on Etsy.com and through several small shops in Minneapolis and Illinois.

Some of Wendy Anderson’s jewelry sits out in a display that she takes with her on the road. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Some of Wendy Anderson’s jewelry sits out in a display that she takes with her on the road. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Custom work

A big part of Anderson’s business are custom pieces. One of her favorite things to do is memorial jewelry, where she uses fabric from a shirt or clothing item of someone who passed away to make a wearable memorial for their loved one.

“To have a piece of your grandfather or grandmother in a set of earrings that you can wear, that’s like an overwhelming feeling for me, especially seeing how customers respond to those things,” she said.

She tries to do as much custom work as possible, as well as read her customer base to create things people might enjoy such as specific sports colors. One customer asked her to make Superman earrings, as she had gone through many health issues and people called her “Superman” or “Superman without a cape” a lot.

“I don’t even sometimes fully understand how much something like that means to someone,” Anderson said. “But the idea that I can go and do what I love and make something for somebody, and then it means so much more to them, that would have to be the number one reason I just love that.”

 The beginning

Anderson’s business came about during the holiday season of 2013, when she was trying to come up with unique presents for her eight nieces.

“I was trying to figure out a unique gift that I could make for all of them but it would showcase their individual personalities,” she said.

After looking through Pinterest and making a few designs of earrings, she showed them to friends and family to get their input. To her surprise, a lot of people were really excited about her creations and wanted to help her or buy some themselves. With a huge support base behind her, she applied for A Handmade Christmas, Indie Craft Market, a craft fair that was in its first year in 2013 and has since returned to Austin.

“It went really well and I was very, very surprised from the feedback I got from customers,” Anderson said. “It was then, right at the end of the year that I was like, ‘I think I’m going to try it.’”

At first worried customers wouldn’t be interested in her product, Anderson soon found a lot of people were interested. Though she was grateful for family and friends’ support, she was happy to see other people excited about what she was doing also.

She registered her name with the State of Minnesota as a business and created an online Etsy shop at the beginning of 2014, and has been happily working away ever since.

Wendy Anderson works on her personalized jewelry from her home office in Brownsdale. Little Wendy Bird, her business, creates jewelry out of printed fabrics.  Photos by Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Wendy Anderson works on her personalized jewelry from her home office in Brownsdale. Little Wendy Bird, her business, creates jewelry out of printed fabrics.
Photos by Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It was something that was all mine, it was just for me,” Anderson said. “I didn’t have to ask permission from anyone, I could basically do what I wanted.”

When she first started Little Wendy Bird, she was also working a full-time job. Yet Anderson found she wasn’t putting as much time as she wanted into her business and in September of 2015 she quit her job to spend more time making her business a success.

Since then, she has also picked up part-time hours at Grinders Deli in Austin.

Though leaving her full-time job was a tough decision to make, she said it has worked well so far.

“I was in a really good spot and living situation to where I could leave and really pursue it for what it is,” she said.”And if it keeps growing and getting bigger and bigger, I’m glad that I’ve invested this much time in it in the beginning.”

“The way I look at it is, if I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing, then I have to achieve it by doing what no one else is doing,” she added.

 First creative outlet

Anderson has always been creative, but she was glad her first big creative outlet came up in her adult life, as she isn’t sure she would have pursued it when she was younger. She started off with just an idea, getting her supplies from JoAnn Fabric and buying way too many things she didn’t need. She now has it narrowed down and buys her nickel-free supplies online, along with much of the fabric. Since the earrings are small, Anderson has to find small designs to fit her jewelry, which can be tough.

“It’s a challenge somedays to find things, but it’s just awesome when I have something and someone isn’t expecting to find it,” Anderson said. “When they’re shopping through my booth and they see something Harry Potter related, or comic book themed, and they’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh I can’t believe you have this.’ That is awesome to me, to have someone find exactly what they’re looking for.”

Anderson hopes to create a business that is successful, but not so successful she can’t continue to do the work herself. She hopes to build something she can continue doing when — down the road — she has a family of her own.

To contact Wendy Anderson, visit:

• Facebook at facebook.com/littlemisswendybird

• Etsy at littlemisswendybird.etsy.com

• Instagram at @littlewendybird

•Email at littlemisswendybird@gmail.com

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