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Conversations with the Inspiring Lily Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lily Smith.

Lily, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
From a young age, I had a serious love of adornment, and I actually started making and selling beaded jewelry when I was 12. I would set up a little table (on sawhorses) in front of my parents’ house in Rehoboth Beach, DE and sell earrings and necklaces to people walking down to the beach. I actually made up to $200 some weekends until one day my business was shut down by the cops since I didn’t have a permit.

About a decade later, I received my BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Craft and Material Studies in 2012 and my BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from the University of Georgia in 2015. While my undergraduate studies were mostly focused on metalsmithing, I took bookbinding and weaving courses in graduate school and really fell in love with both. When I moved to Atlanta after grad school, I started my business, Lily Smith Studio, and began teaching tapestry weaving classes at Fabricate Studios.

Most of my jewelry and books incorporate fruit and vegetable imagery due to my love of fresh produce. I am often asked at artist markets if I’m a vegetarian or vegan and I’m not (total meat eater here!), but I think it’s important to support my local farmers and now that we own a home, my boyfriend and I are cultivating our own fruit, vegetable, and herb garden. There’s nothing more exciting than watching your food grow! Plus, I love drawing radishes!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of my biggest struggles is the business side of my business! I love designing and making jewelry and books, but marketing myself and my work can be a real challenge. Social media can be a wonderful advantage to owning a small business, but it definitely takes time and research to do right. At this point, Lily Smith Studio is a one woman show and I’m juggling photographing my work and maintaining my website and social media on top of teaching classes and making work for craft shows and my stockists. It is definitely not the easiest career, but I truly love what I do and I can’t image working towards anything else.

I would recommend that all young women starting their journey ask for help! One of my favorite aspects of the craft community is how open makers are with one another. Ask successful makers for advice! You don’t have to do everything on your own! I know if I’ve found a successful approach to something I’ve been struggling with, I am always willing to share that knowledge with other artists.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Lily Smith Studio story. Tell us more about the business.
I make fruit and veggie-inspired jewelry and books!

My enamel earrings and necklaces feature graphite doodles of produce fused into the glass; I also make sterling silver post earrings with silhouettes of fruits and veggies, and stamped jewelry features phrases like ‘grow food,’ ‘eat local’ and ‘plant lady,’

My handbound books all feature fruit and veggie paper as well as book cloth and fine sketchbook paper. Making books is incredibly repetitive and meditative for me. While I have to go to my studio to create my jewelry, bookbinding requires very little in the way of equipment, so I’m able to wake up and make a couple of books in my PJs before starting my day. Working with metal and paper are very different processes, but both require attention to detail that I really enjoy.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
I had some amazing mentors while in school. Susie Ganch at VCU taught me so much about technically working with metal, but also how to think about the work that I’m putting out into the world. Am I creating heirlooms that will last generations? If not, can my jewelry be melted down and repurposed or recycled into a new piece? These are questions I consider each time I design a piece. At UGA I was fortunate enough to study with Mary Pearse and Lola Brooks, two wonderfully intelligent, talented, and challenging teachers and jewelers.

Since being out of school, some of the women I learn the most from are other makers. At every craft market or festival, I participate in I always meet artists I can learn something from, whether it is a technique, business advice, or a great craft show to participate in. I am constantly inspired by strong female makers… and I’m slowly filling my house with their work!


  • Silver Post Fruit and Veggies Earrings $36
  • Stamped Bar Necklaces $36
  • Enamel Earrings and Necklaces $56-68
  • Handbound Sketchbooks $18-48

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Lily Smith

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