We had the good fortune of connecting with Sommer Cleveland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sommer, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
It’s not one piece of conventional advice I disagree with, it is being conventional in general that I disagree with. Our society is set up to follow a conventional path and if you deviate you are looked down on or made to feel unworthy and that I disagree with fully. Be true to yourself, if you don’t want to go to college and would prefer to pursue a nonconventional job, do it. If you don’t want to get married and buy a house and have 2.5 kids, don’t. Be honest to yourself of what is important to you and don’t let anyone else tell you it is wrong or make you feel less than for following that path. I tried that once. I tried following the path I thought I had to and it always made me feel like I was hiding and unsure. As soon as I let those walls fall away and embraced being my bohemian (socially unconventional person) self, I felt like myself again. To quote Marilyn Monroe, “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In order to be proud of Rustic Souls, I try to promote the ideal that there is perfection in imperfection, essentially saying you are beautiful exactly how you are. I try to make and design jewelry that embodies that ideal. I want my designs and my brand to exude love and kindness and empowerment to be true to yourself and not conform to what society asked you to be. It’s a drive to say loud and clear, “Seriously darling, don’t be like the rest of them.” Getting to where I am today has been a journey of self-discovery and learning to accept myself exactly how I am. I have Lupus and Fibromyalgia and often have bouts of severe chronic fatigue and I wanted to keep my hands busy since that was about all I had the energy for. So I started making jewelry and that little hobby grew a little bit every year until 3 years later I decided to quit my job and make jewelry as my sole source of income. That was 6 years ago and every year I push myself to learn new techniques, mostly self-taught, and push the boundaries of my designs. And I’m happy to say that the growth I’ve achieved in my business has helped me grow personally as well and I’m proud of the path Rustic Souls has taken me on. However, it hasn’t been without it’s challenges. The biggest challenge for any artist is not having a regular source of income. You have to learn balance and moderation in not only your daily business practices and finances but your personal as well. If you don’t learn this balance quickly you can easily overwhelm yourself and fall into debt. So having a 3-5 year plan when you start out with goals, expectations and financial budgets set is really important from day one. If I had taken this advice seriously when I started I believe I would have made better decisions the first few years I started doing this full-time. But the best lesson I’ve learned over the years? Be true to yourself and your art. Make art for you and no one else. Sometimes you may have to create work that your less enthused to make simply because you know if sells better but try to steer clear of that mindset if you can. The more you fall into that process the further away you get from your true self. Never loose sight of who you are and what you want to create.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think Colorado, Denver especially, offers something for everyone. If I had a week to show the area off to a friend, I would make sure they felt that variety. If this was pre-COVID I would make sure to catch a concert at Red Rocks, take a drive and hike through Rocky Mountain National Park, brewery/bar hop in LoDo, maybe catch a DJ set at Church, definitely eat out at every opportunity because we have so many awesome restaurants it’s ridiculous. I also wouldn’t miss stopping by Denver art museum and walking the RiNo street art scene. Honestly, I could go on for paragraphs about all the fun stuff there is to do here.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes out to my other Denver small business friends. You know who you are and I couldn’t have embraced Rustic Souls whole hardly without the help and support of you guys. Whether it was just chatting and cover each others booths at shows, giving advice with off the wall questions online or just cheering each other one when we accomplished big steps in our business. This little community has been one of the most important things to me over the years. Thank you all for being so supportive.
Modeling photo credits goes to Shelby Borer Photography Product