Back in December, I received an e-mail from Alexandra Wallace, a photographer reaching out to collaborate with Wild & Free Jewelry. After my response she shared an idea for a new magazine she envisioned, a publication called Coyote + Oak that would spotlight local California artists, and balance beautiful visuals with inspiring writing. She asked me if I would like to be involved in the first issue and I immediately agreed. Her idea sounded wonderful and I couldn’t wait to help her on her new artistic endeavor while simultaneously sharing my Wild & Free story with her future readers.
At the time this collaboration began, my life was really hectic (as it almost always is), and Alexandra graciously agreed to let me do the shoot instead of scheduling with an outside photographer. My plan was to shoot the feature myself, with a tripod, like I almost always do. Then I met Danielle.
Up until a few months ago Danielle and I were strangers. Well… we were real life strangers, but Danielle had been following Wild & Free for some time. She reached out to me via e-mail expressing an interest in meeting up because she felt we would get along and we exchanged numbers. Of course, in typical Corina fashion, our schedules didn’t align and I was unable to schedule a time to meet up with her until we serendipitously ran into each other at a concert. Right away I knew we would get along, mostly because she was dressed like a 70s Penny Lane babe, and shortly after I started taking her on adventures and having her help me out as an intern.
One day while sitting in my office, Danielle expressed an interest in rekindling her love for photography and I decided to take her along on the shoot I planned for Coyote + Oak. The images that were published in the magazine are all courtesy of Danielle, edited by yours truly. I think she did a pretty epic job.
Today I received my hard copy of Coyote + Oak and it’s a visually breathtaking collection of artists and entrepreneurs from cover to cover. My short interview is published below.
Be sure to follow Coyote + Oak along on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on their amazing new journey!
P.S. If you didn’t snag an issue in the pre-order, Blackwater still has a limited amount available HERE.
Coyote + Oak: You began your venture Wild & Free Jewelry originally as an Etsy storefront – currently, they are hosting hundreds of thousands of sellers. What was your key to standing out?
When I started Wild & Free Jewelry on Etsy, five years ago, the platform wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. I’ve seen it undergo tons of changes since the beginning, and at the time, I think it was a lot easier to “stand out” as there wasn’t a ton of competition.
Aside from that, I always loved to focus on the photography aspect of my Etsy store. When you sell online, your key sales point is usually the photo, as it has to catch the customer’s eye quickly while also showcasing the design efficiently. I studied photography for the first half of my college career, which was also when I started Wild & Free Jewelry, so I always used my love for the subject to inspire creative photos of my designs. This usually involved convincing my friends to go on nature adventures with me, or using a tripod with a timer to take photos of myself in my parent’s backyard. Making photography one of my key focuses with Wild & Free Jewelry has sculpted the entire way the brand is perceived, especially with Instagram and social media, and it definitely played a key role in getting the business off the ground during the first few years.
Coyote + Oak: A clear Native American motif is seen in your designs, as well as a lot of natural, California elements. Do those come from being located in Santa Barbara, or is there more to the story?
The biggest component of this answer comes from my parent’s wedding before I was born. They were married by a Chumash Chief at my Grandpa’s house near the ocean. My mom’s wedding dress was made of leather, with beaded embellishments along the front and both my parents wore moccasins and feathers. The photos from their wedding are some of my favorites of them together and anytime I remember being a child, I can envision gazing up at my mom’s wedding dress hanging on the wall and thinking it was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. I grew up learning Native American ideology through my parents, who took great care to teach me the power of nature and the importance of respecting it. They maintained a close relationship with the Chumash tribe when I was young and even incorporated the Chumash word for “dolphin,” which is Alulquoy, into my name. Because of this, I draw intense inspiration from Native American culture.
In addition, a lot of my designs are inspired by the natural world, obviously stemming from how beautiful the Santa Barbara area is. As a child, I loved being in nature (and of course I still do). I used to wander outside on the ranch we lived on and sing to myself, or imagine I was a princess, as I roamed the woods in my Disney costumes (which I never wanted to take off). The beauty of nature always inspired me and endlessly sparked my imagination. Now, when I think of designs, I try to travel back to those moments as a child, where it felt like my spirit was completely free and the world offered endless possibilities. I want each thing I make to somehow remind people that the world can be magic, and to never lose sight of that childhood sense of wonder.
Coyote + Oak: With social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, followers often see only the glamorous, ‘edited’ version of the lives they follow. If you had to share a few facts of the real-life Corina, what would they be?
It’s funny because I actually think my Instagram is pretty spot on with my real life. I know a lot of social media these days is staged and edited to show only a certain side of the person posting it. But, honestly, everything I write, post or promote on my Instagram is very close to my heart and honest. Of course I do edit my photos, and I am extremely picky about what goes on my feed, but the images are spot on to what goes on in my daily life. I wake up, design orders and before the sun sets, I go out and explore nature. As the social media world gets more and more staged I really want to try and maintain that authenticity. It’s important to me to have Wild & Free Jewelry be perceived as accurately and true as possible.
I think what is the hardest to convey and what doesn’t get through to most people, is that I’m doing everything all alone. Judging from the e-mails and DMs I receive, most people think I have a team that helps me on shoots, a photographer, or employees that make my items, but it’s all me. Even with my blog, I’m out in the mountains alone with a tripod, using a shutter release to get the shot. That’s probably the thing that makes me laugh the most because I know I look ridiculous when I’m out there, but I seriously enjoy myself and don’t think about it twice. I try to make this as transparent as possible, but those who don’t read my captions or blog have no idea and assume that Wild & Free Jewelry is a huge company. It’s actually very flattering but definitely far off from reality.
I think social media Corina and real-life Corina are pretty on par with each other. The biggest thing that my followers might not see is how dorky and embarrassing I actually am in real life. I laugh at pretty much everything and talk super fast when I get excited (which is seriously every 2 seconds because everything excites me all the time). When followers come up to me on the street or in the grocery store and ask me if I’m “wildandfreejewelry” I always have to tell myself to play it cool, don’t smother them with love, just act normal. The first few times people recognized me I got way too excited and I’m 99% sure I freaked them out after our encounter ended. I feel like people probably think I’m pretty mellow from the way I come across on Instagram, but I actually have a lot of energy and a strong desire to laugh and smile all the time.