Turquoise T-Rex was founded by Punky Mom member Lin in 2008 shortly after the arrival of her first born. Lin handmakes fun, unique jewelry in the USA and cites her love of traditional tattoo art, horror movies, and fashion as inspirations of the brand. As a born and bred beach native, I’m totally eyeing up the seaglass earrings! Are you reading this from Houston or Chicago, USA? Read on to find out which boutiques house Lin’s beautiful jewelry and give them a visit!
When was your company Turquoise T-Rex founded and where are you based?
I started making jewelry in November of 2008, shortly after my first child was born. My home base is in Katy, TX (right outside of Houston) but these days I find myself traveling with my partner’s work. I’m currently in San Francisco at the moment.
How many are involved in your small business?
My partner, SteeVee, is my main business partner. He’s been very supportive and helped build my company (literally) from the ground up. He gifted me metalsmithing classes, and built my entire set up from recycled materials which fits with the theme of upcycling I use my in my jewelry. Liz, a good friend, is the artistic genius behind my branding. She designed my logo and cards from scratch. My two year old also helps from time to time. She knows how to do basic hammer texturing on metal, and I often let her “help”. My dad is also a huge help, as he watches the kids when I do shows in Houston.
What inspired you to start your own company?
I wanted a way to earn my own money. I have a friend (Jen) who used to make lovely necklaces, and I took an interest in learning to make my own. After having my eldest, I had shifted from being a full time office worker, to being a stay at home mom. I started out using the caps from my ex husband’s beer bottles and poured resin into them over fabric or paper cut outs. He and his friends would save every single cap for me to use. I had a huge jar of them! When we split up, making jewelry became a way for me to stay home and be a single mother. In 2015, I took metalsmithing classes at the Crucible in Oakland, CA and it had definitely leveled up my jewelry game. I never felt comfortable in a 9-5 job. I am not well suited for office or retail work. I enjoy the freedom of being my own boss, even if that means I never really get to go home from work.
Did you have a background in business prior to starting your company?
Not really. I worked as a receptionist and tech in various veterinary clinics. I had gone to school for studio art, but had dropped out after two and a half years. I have always been artistically inclined, but it has been a learning experience as I know the ins and outs of finances and how to manage my time and energy.
Did you run into any problems or resistance while launching?
The hardest thing has been getting my name out there. It is easier to do face to face at a show, online is a whole other universe. Learning to use hashtags and search engines has been a labor of love. The market is saturated with jewelry artisans, and it’s hard to really make yourself stand out. I often tell people who ask me about using Etsy, that it is what you put into it. It’s work, every day. It is not easy, and often times not as fun as they think it is. It’s a job just like any other.
How do you get the most out of your day?
Time management is what I struggle with the most. I work on product all of the time. I often stay up late because I can’t sleep while thinking about a new item I’d like to try out. It feels like I am always going. Between my business, three kids, and going to college, I am always busy. I am also always tired! It’s worth it though.
How is your family a part of your business choices?
Family is the entire reason behind what I do what I do. My kids see me working hard on beautiful things, and they want to know how to make them too. It’s been important for me to teach my children that education is important, but it’s also important for them to know how to use tools and make or fix things. My girls give me feedback on what items are “the best mom!” and I often make tiny versions of things for them to wear.
What music inspires you?
Lately I have been obsessed with the Hamilton Mixtape. It’s been on 24/7 in my house. My go to music when working, however, is usually the Pixies or Motown. I like to dance while working.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
I am an avid reader. I would read every day, all day if I could. Happiness would be a library all my own with an oversized chair to lounge in while reading. I also enjoy roller skating, it’s been a while but I love roller derby. If it’s nice out, I’ll toss the kids onto the lawn and we will hula hoop. We do a lot of art, a lot of dancing, and a lot of baking.
What do you see in the future for your shop?
I’d love to expand into more boutiques. I am currently in two of them: Kismet Boutique in Houston’s East End, and RepChi in Chicago. They are both run by amazing people who support local artisans and handmade work. I look forward to the day when I do not have to rely so much on doing shows, but simply restocking items in stores and selling online.