The materials that go into PopkoShop’s pieces are definitely jaw-dropping and a beautiful way to combine natural elements with finely crafted metal and glass work. Since I know I was immediately curious, I will let our readers know that PopkoShop uses butterfly wings collected from naturally expired butterflies who have happily lived out their full lives in conservation garden environments. So cool! Read on to find out more about PopkoShop.
What’s your name, what’s your business name, where are you from, and where are you currently located/crafting?
I’m Crystal Popko and I love running the PopkoShop from my studio in Western Mass.
How did you get your start? Please tell us a little bit about how your business went from an idea to what is is today?
Seven years ago, I didn’t plan to have a jewelry business.
I have a degree in sculpture, and that’s where I learned how to make things, learning about all kinds of materials and techniques to apply when making sculptures and artworks. I started out making and selling glass mosaic home décor because it was functional. It’s what I knew how to do, and I was good at it. But it’s not what I loved. I didn’t love the bubble wrap and the craft show haul with breakables.
I decided to take the same materials and work smaller. I made jewelry with the mosaic tiles, I loved the colors. I had more freedom with jewelry, so I kept playing with different materials in the studio and tested out new designs at craft shows and on Etsy. I used my first butterfly wing by chance, because it was lying around my studio and I decided to cast it into silver.
I didn’t realize then that it would change the direction of my life and create a full time business that I really do love. My jewelry has completely evolved over the years, but it has always had the same threads running through it- glass, metal, casting, color, and natural elements. It’s taken a long time to refine “what I do”, but I still feel like I’ve just begun.
Who are some of your favorite indie artist/crafters and why do you love them?
I’m more obsessed with the business side of things, so no matter what you actually craft/make I really enjoy watching someone’s small business become successful. Being a part of the indie craft show gang, I get to see a lot of that growth- which fuels me to stick with it.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
I love glass and metal. I found a way to use them in everything I do. I once thought I’d be a glass sculptor, until I realized I’d be breathing in glass dust every day. So I work with tiny pieces of glass and molten metal, which is a perfect compromise. This is what I use to preserve the butterfly wings, feathers and leaves. I love my butterfly collection, it’s my other favorite material.
Any exciting future plans or developments in the works for your business? (Nothing TOP-SECRET, of course!)
It’s no secret, but I’ve got a new studio at the Indian Orchard Artist Mills! You can now come see me at work and shop anytime of the year.
What are some other things you like to do when you are not busy making awesome stuff?
Wait, extra time? [Editor's note: LOLZ]
What are the top 3 reasons someone shopping at the BBB 2012 should be sure to stop by your table?
People should stop by my table because it’s like a miniature natural history display! Even if you don’t wear jewelry, you can learn a little bit about butterflies and get an up close view of their striking colors and patterns. I love that my table usually gets a ton of questions, curious shoppers and strong reactions. It’s a great conversation starter to have a table full of real butterfly wings. You’ll learn that they are naturally expired and collected from safe origin gardens.
What advice would you give to a new vendor selling at the BBB for the first time?
2011 was my first BBB. I knew it would be good, but could not imagine the foot traffic in that building! Be prepared to NOT STOP talking, packing, restocking. Be ready to eat in small bites between rushes. Bring more inventory than you think- and then a little more. Most importantly, SHOP as soon as you finish setting up. There are some amazing products that you will regret missing!