Occupation: Painter and Jewelry Designer
Website: Superhero Designs
Biography: Andrea Scher is a painter and jewelry designer living in San Francisco. When she is not doing either of these things, you can find her making postal art or taking photo booth pictures.
What do you do and how did you start?
I have a company called Superhero Designs. I design chunky, wild, colorful jewelry for superheroes.
How old were you when you realized you wanted to do what you’re currently doing and how old were you when you actually began?
At 10 years old, I had a little business selling jewelry. I would walk around Carmel, California selling earrings I had made out of tiny toy rubber animals. I also painted and wrote novels and did all sorts of wonderfully creative things I would be terrified to do now.
At 21 I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Economics. At this point I was very clear that I didn’t want to pursue finance, and began my journey to discover what I could do creatively instead. The best job I ever found was working with the author and artist SARK. I worked with her for almost five years and then at 29, started my own company.
What jobs did you have before you went out on your own?
Coffee slinger, quality control at a textile company, retail clothing salesperson, gift product designer/book production manager for SARK. The most hilarious job I ever had was dressing up as “The Pink Man”, the cartoon character who does movie reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle. I wore an enormous pink rubber suit, (like those costumes you see at Disneyland) and went to publicity events and gave away free things and took photos with people.
What steps did you take to create your own business?
Read lots of books about business, designed a web site, interviewed other business owners, made lots of mistakes, asked lots of questions.
What kind of formal education, training or experience do you have that applies to what you do?
I am a self-taught artist and living proof that one doesn’t need a degree in art to make a living as an artist. Nevertheless, I love taking classes! I’ve taken metalsmithing, silkscreening, spanish, photography, image transfer onto fabric, and sewing. Some of these things fit directly into my business, others just teach me a new way of playing with color, texture, line, etc. It all contributes to an aesthetic and a style. I’ve tried to craft my own curriculum out of things that call to me and sound like fun. If it doesn’t sounds fun, I don’t take the class.
On the business side, I was mentored by SARK and her company for four and a half years. Working within the environment that I wanted to create for myself was an incredible opportunity. If you work for people you admire, you are bound to learn a way of doing business that resonates with your own style. Apprenticeships are invaluable!
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? The most frustrating?
I run my company professionally, but there is a lightness and casual quality about the way I do business. There is a focus on fun. I wear furry cat hats to work. I play loud music and dance around in my pajamas. I have long lunches with unemployed friends. I see matinees and go to yoga in the afternoon. If I feel stressed out, I jump on my bicycle and ride to the photo booth at Ocean Beach. When I want to travel, I create business trips and find new accounts in places I’ve wanted to visit.
The challenge that I didn’t expect was the isolation. I had always craved my alone time, yearned for space and hours to be creative. But now that my entire life is that, it doesn’t taste as sweet as it once did. I get lonely being in the house all day and get far too deep in my head. I think myself into sad, unnecessary places. What keeps me going are all of the people that I’ve met through this work. People write to me and say that when they need to feel extra courageous they put on their superhero necklace (or bracelet) and they feel more wild and alive. One woman wrote to me and said that her’s was “literally, happiness in a necklace.” These messages are invaluable to me!
Do you have any fears about what you do, and if so, how do you deal with them?
I have so many fears. Here are a few:
Fear of not making enough money.
Fear of my work being rejected.
Fear of loneliness.
I’ve tempered many of these fears by building a community of other women entrepreneurs. When I first started my company, I interviewed as many women business owners as I could find. I gained lots of useful information, but mostly, I built a community of people who I drawn upon for support daily.
What kind of work environment do you have?
I work at home in the attic. It’s a big beautiful space.
Have you encountered any financial obstacles, and if so, how did you overcome them?
Hell yeah. I haven’t overcome them yet.
Who or what are your inspirations?
Words of advice for those pursuing their creative goals:
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There is no way to know everything about your creative endeavor until you start doing it. Don’t wait, thinking that you’ll start when you know what you’re doing. This will only paralyze you and keep you from ever beginning it.