Aisa showcasing her jewelries at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW)
To celebrate Colorfulifesite Blog’s sixth month of existence, this humble servant invited an accomplished artist and a crafty entrepreneur to share her story. A woman on top of her game, Aisa is the talent behind Aisa Marie Corrales Handmade Jewelry Designs. She’s a Registered Nurse who only recently discovered her artistic side and the kind of person you’d want your children to look up to- dedicated, resourceful and realistic.
Truth be told, I wasn’t counting much on this busy bee even glancing my way. After all, Colorfulifesite is just an amateur blog project. In the meantime, celebrities wear her creations, professional “fashion people” have interviewed her and have featured her work, she is showcased in an indie artist organization’s website, she has participated in the New York Fashion Week, plus she makes jewelries for people from all over the world. But here she is, dear reader!
So to Aisa: thank you very much for the burst of colors you’ve gifted this blog.
What do Paloma Picasso, Elsa Peretti and Aisa Corrales have in common?
For starters, they’re all stylish. Additionally, they’re very hard-working women who move like fish in the water inside the world of fashion. But most of all: they possess the talent to convert what their senses receive into timeless, elegant jewelries. As a craftsman, Aisa does not conform and declares, “I firmly believe that one must not cease to learn and my goal is to continue to evolve as an artist.”
K: Your pieces are fantastic! It makes me wonder, what did you do to express all this hidden talent before you started designing jewelry?
A: Becoming a jewelry designer was quite accidental. Growing up, I never really paid much attention to what was happening in the fashion industry. My dream was to simply finish college, get a decent job here in the States and help my parents out. Believe it or not I never knew the artist in me existed until later in life.
My story started with a 5-dollar cobalt blue chandelier earrings I bought in Manhattan. I did not realize that one piece was broken until I got home. There was something about those earrings that resonated with me and gave me a sense of urgency to mend the broken pieces. Luckily we are living in the age of technology where you can just look anything up online. So I patiently scavenged for information and viewed tons of jewelry-making video tutorials and diligently taught myself the basics. Surprisingly, it did not take too long for me to master the skills and grasp the artistic concept behind. Turned out that it (only) took a broken earring for me to discover my talent that has been there all along waiting to be nurtured.
K: What distracts you the most? To the point that it would give you a designer’s block?
A: I am an exceptionally emotional person with a strong personality. Most of the time I endure emotional imbalances and distress. But in rare occasions when my boat is being rocked hard by negative emotions and when I fail to withstand such nuisance, everything just shuts down – ideas get thrown out the window and what is left is my uninspired, unimaginative, uncreative self.
K: What was the first piece you designed? And the first one you sold? Looking back now, did it fit your standards?
A: The first jewelry piece I created was a pair of earrings. I cannot recall which one but I must have deconstructed the pieces later on and integrated it on my other designs. I deeply regret not having snapped a photo of it though.
But I do remember vividly the very first jewelry that I sold. It was a charm bracelet made with antique brass findings, semiprecious stones, flower cabochon, faux pas pearls, and lavender acrylic beads.
Honestly, I find it beautiful with its imperfections until this day. Though my craftsmanship needed improvement, the overall design was still quite charming.
K: What was the most unexpected inspiration you’ve had for a design? Can we see the finished product?
A: Interesting question, just recently I found myself in uncharted territory. One night I was just sitting in my workstation deeply reminiscing about some good memories of my Dad who recently just passed away.
K: Which among your latest creations mirrors you the best?
A: My new favorite piece- a bracelet made with my favorite happy colors and charms that truly represent the person and artist in me.
I love and I’m passionate with everything that I do (heart). I wholeheartedly embrace challenges for personal growth (flower pot). I strive to handle life with grace and elegance (butterfly) and to fly high with faith, hope, dreams, and confidence. It’s a statement jewelry indeed!
From hesitant newbie to self-taught entrepreneur, Aisa was not exempted from the typical “what ifs” that plague first-time business venturers. Likewise, she has also experienced giving up an initial (good) idea in favor of a more structured vision for her project. Not only was she brave for taking the step to selling on-line; she was even braver to move out of her comfort zone, then start anew.
Getting into a project involving money, sacrificing one’s limited time and above all entering a perfectly strange field is always nerve-wrecking. Aisa not only gives valuable insight, she also shares very honest and realistic information about her whole experience.
K: When you started designing and crafting hand-made jewelry, did you have it mind to earn money through this activity?
A: It was just a creative hobby at the beginning, a way to relieve my stress. My friends and coworkers encouraged me to turn it into a business. I was hesitant at first because of the fact that I had no prior experience in business and I was not too sure if people would really buy my creations.
Bottom line, I did not believe in my products and most of all I did not believe in myself. Until finally one of my closest friends suggested Etsy. It took a lot of thinking and pushing before I bravely opened my first online jewelry shop – Ice and Butterflies.
Getting into the jewelry business was a whole new game for me. I started reading business, financial and jewelry-making books and it became my bible at one point and I also followed a bunch of financial bloggers and jewelry artists on Instagram for tips. Following the advice of my uncle who used to work at Tiffany and Co as a consultant, that branding is everything, I decided to close Ice and Butterflies and created Aisa Marie Corrales Handmade Jewelry Designs.
K: Was it as hard or harder to start anew after closing Ice and Butterflies?
A: No it was not hard at all. Having a positive mindset made the transition easy and smooth for me. I was so motivated to take my jewelry business to a whole new level and make a name for myself.
K: Was it hard to come by your starting capital?
A: Luckily I was already working as a registered nurse when my handmade jewelry venture happened. I took some money out of my savings and used it to launch my business.
K: Where do you procure your materials?
A: I wanted my pieces to stand out from the rest not just for its unique designs but also for its quality and craftsmanship. (But) since I was new to the industry, I had zero reference where to get my materials. It took a lot of research before I stumbled upon different suppliers who are based here in the US as well as in Canada.
K: You have your very own store “in the making” in Mambajao, Camiguin Province. Was all of this part of the plan? When did it occur to you to expand?
A: (I love Camiguin very much and it will always be my home!)
“Bricolage” came about one night while I was conversing with my Mom with regards to starting a business in Camiguin. My original plan was to rent a small space at one of the resorts where I can showcase my jewelries. But my Mom brilliantly suggested that it would be better for me to have my own boutique and save rent money in the long run which was actually very smart!
And I figured that since she will also be retiring pretty soon, I thought “Bricolage” would be a perfect playground for her while she’s in the island. The building is fully finished, it just needs some painting and landscaping as well. Hopefully it will be ready by next year. I’m planning to go home during the grand opening on July 2017 if God permits.
K: What is your mission and what is your vision?
A: My ultimate mission is to offer women from across the globe fashion statement jewelries designed to inspire, empower, support, and celebrate femininity and individualism.
As for my vision, I aim to create a jewelry portfolio that will exceed expectations and make a positive impact on the lives of my customers.
Belonging to a group of people who constantly stretch the meaning of “success”, Aisa considers it as a variable mixture of perseverance, discipline, passion and humility. She is one who believes that the idea is no longer consistent with the thought of money, fame, or crushing the competition. Instead, she includes concepts such as: empowerment, changing lives, happiness, freedom and self-fulfillment.
As a diligent pupil of experience, she is not ashamed to admit her past mistakes as long as others can learn from it. Neither is she stingy when it comes to encouraging. These are qualities common to those who have fallen but rose again; those who have erred but have courageously chosen to give the new day another shot. These are the qualities of a person on the road towards prosperity.
K: You’re a professional nurse, a jewelry designer and a figure skater. The whole day has only 24 hours. Do you have some kind of special deal with the God of Time, that he extends your daily hours so you could do all these things and more?
A: Nursing is not an easy profession. It is mentally and physically challenging, making nurses susceptible to high level of stress and burnout. I consider myself a passionate worker who knows how to balance work and play. (That said) both jewelry making and ice skating serve as my stress relievers.
K: To which aspect of your life would you dedicate more time, if you were indeed given a special deal to extend your daily hours?
A: If given a chance, I would really love to spend more time creating jewelries, developing, and growing my business. Jewelry making gives me great joy and a feeling of connectedness to my inner self above all. It is one thing I absolutely cannot live without.
K: In one of my blog posts, I mentioned the “Cinderella Syndrome” and how some women stunt their own potential for growth because they’re afraid that they won’t be “lovable” or “desirable” enough for a man. What are your thoughts about this?
A: First of all women should not fall into the trap believing that the only way to fit into a man’s standard or be with a man is to limit one’s personal growth. It’s quite disheartening to hear stories like this. We need to be firm and learn to take control of our own lives and live it according to our principles. As far as I am concerned, I’ve never been in a situation where I had to sacrifice my dreams or put it on the back burner just to please a man. One thing I’m sure of, I will never allow my independent and strong-willed self to be in that kind of situation. If a guy wants to dictate my life, then I have one word for that person: Adios! I firmly believe that if a man truly loves a woman, he will support her, nurture her, and allow her to blossom and be the best woman she can be.
K: Then again, there are some women who do this kind of thing so as not to attract envy from other females. What has been your personal experience on this?
A: I don’t know if people get intimidated by me and I don’t want them to think that because I am not! I consider myself as a warm, bubbly, and loving person. Though I may be extremely picky when it comes to friendships and to whom I give my energy to, it does not mean I do not value other social connectedness or acquaintances.
Envy is a natural emotion but here’s my advice to all women out there, please do not let envy taint your confidence and self-esteem. Compete with yourself rather than with other women and do not allow your insecurities distract you. Be persistent with your goals in life and be patient because there’s always a time for everything. Like the old adage goes, “Good things come to those who patiently wait” and may I add: “also to those who dream and work hard to make it happen!”
Aisa with her models at the NYFW Fashion Show
K: Studies say that love is the most important factor to develop a person’s self-esteem and character. Both these traits reflect in each and every accessory you create. Do you agree with such conclusions?
A: Based on my life experience, having a healthy self-esteem has been a choice rather than a relative result of unlimited abundance of tenderness and affection. I didn’t grow up with my parents, never met my Dad till I was 16 years old and my Mom followed him here in New York when I was 4. It was my late grandmother who raised me and my brothers in Camiguin until our teenage years. It was one of the toughest stages in my life but I am proud to say that I beat it.
Yes I was showered with tangible gifts but those did not vanquish the loneliness for not being with my parents. But I was never the type of kid to roll on the floor, cry, and succumb to negativity. Rather than feel sorry for myself, I took it as a challenge and turned the tables on full force. I taught myself how to make sound judgements and better decisions for my life. And most importantly, I learned to be independent, nurture my self-esteem and boost my confidence. You always have a choice whether to take full control of your life and own it or be a slave of circumstance.
K: What was your greatest stumble before reaching where you are now? Could you tell us how you got over it, something that you haven’t told anybody?
A: One of my greatest stumbles just happened recently. And this is the first time I’m going open up about what went down to my shop in Cagayan De Oro (CDO).
As you know, last May I opened my first shop in CDO (Misamis Oriental, Mindanao) with a partner. That business was never in my plans but when it came about I just said yes to the proposal without doing my research. Not the typical me, for I am the sort of person who always plans things ahead and makes sure that I am well prepared. I actually surprised a lot of people with my decision and when I told my Mom about the plan, she was quite taken aback, even warning me not proceed. But my stubborn self simply refused to heed her advice and followed my impulsivity instead.
I was confident that the business would flourish: I had a partner and there were people working for us. Unfortunately everything went downhill when my Dad got sick and entered in coma. Since I was so busy nursing my Dad day in and day out, not to mention I was physically and emotionally drained out, I asked my partner to take charge for the time being. Later on, I was informed that the business encountered a lot of problems and was not going too well. At that point I said to myself, I should have listened to my Mom because she was so absolutely right. I was so disappointed and agreed to close down our shop for good. Of course I had to hear my Mom say, “I told you so”! Anyway, I have learned my lesson the hard way and challenged myself to never take that path ever again.
K: I’ve been referring to you as a successful woman, but do you consider yourself as such? How would you define success?
A: Yes I do consider myself as a successful individual. I love to set goals for myself. I guess that makes me a goal-oriented person. Once I set my heart and mind to something it becomes an obsession until I conquer it (typical Scorpio). I’ve accomplished most of my childhood dreams and made my parents very proud when I received my bachelor’s degree with honors, passed my licensure exam, and became a full-fledged registered nurse – I’ve considered it as my greatest achievement in life prior to becoming a jewelry designer.
Personally, I do not equate money with success. For me success means championing and realizing my dreams and goals (big or small) in life. It means having the freedom to live a happy and quality life, pursuing what I love to do and fulfilling my true purpose. And lastly, success means being able to touch lives in a meaningful way and be an inspiration to others.
Aisa closing the show
– The End –
Aisa grew up in Camiguin Province but is also every bit of a New Yorker. She loves the Eiffel tower. She’s a cat person, an enthusiastic ice skater, she talks to her plants, loves reading, and most of all she’s a devoted daughter, sister, aunt and friend.
Her brother once challenged her to have a Hollywood star wear one of her creations. (Don’t be surprised when that day comes sooner than expected!)
She wishes to open up her own store in New York City, someday.
Find her at:
Her online shop: www.aisacorrales.etsy.com