Jamie Trombley Regula’s two passions — wood and art — have collided and created the inspiration for Silvatica Designs. Regula says, “Silvatica Designs is the synthesis of my background in forestry and passion for the arts.”
“I initially enrolled at Colby-Sawyer College as an art major but after three semesters switched to environmental. After graduating, I served as an agroforestry extension agent in the Peace Corps, which sparked my interest in forestry and prompted me to return to school. Following the completion of my master’s degree, I had several forestry jobs but continued to feel unfulfilled and searching for creative outlets.”
One of those creative outlets was creating handcrafted wooden jewelry. Regula’s creative process began in the forest and firewood stacks, where she intentionally sought wood otherwise considered defective. Qualities deemed undesirable in the forest products industry, such as knots, rot, and insect damage served as her inspiration and provided the variation and character which made each piece unique. Regula initially made jewelry for herself and her friends, but she received enough compliments and purchase inquiries that she decided to try selling her designs online.
“While I’ve always been inspired by people who start a business in their garage or basement, I never considered it a possibility for myself. When I decided to turn my creative outlet into a small business, my husband and I were living in an apartment complex with no basement, garage or outside space. As a result, I turned our kitchen into a workshop. Although it was annoying at the time, we now look back and laugh about the extra fiber in our diets provided by ever-present film of sawdust blanketing our pots and pans,” Regula said.
Silvatica Designs was originally meant to be a side business. The online store was launched in November of 2018 and has since expanded by selling jewelry in small retail stores across Ohio and New Hampshire. As the business continued to grow, Regula struggled to manage her full-time forestry job and meet product demands. Recently, Regula decided to quit her job and focus on Silvatica Designs full-time.
Prior to COVID, makers’ markets and craft shows constituted a significant portion of Regula’s sales. Perhaps more importantly, they were a good source of exposure and opportunity to receive feedback from her customers. She said, “I enjoyed being able to directly interact with customers and learn more about their jewelry preferences. Sales have been down overall, but many small businesses are taking a hit during the pandemic and Silvatica is no exception. However, I believe in what I’m doing and am always working on new and creative ways to get Silvatica products out there.”
Regula enjoys owning her own business and said that it offers infinite opportunities to learn new skills and explore different interests. She said, “I’m a very passionate and enthusiastic person and I love being able to follow my whims to create original pieces that bring me joy.”
Regula suggests making a business and marketing plan for anyone thinking of starting their own business. “All of the duties of a small business owner can be overwhelming. I believe that having a framework to focus efforts is essential and allows someone to see the bigger picture. Many state extension offices have resources for people looking to start a small business and I recommend reaching out to them directly,” said Regula.
Now that Regula will be spending more time at home working on Silvatica Designs, she hopes to enjoy some of her other hobbies, such as reading, hiking and traveling with her husband, Adam. She said that stepping away and fostering other hobbies will hopefully prevent burnout and spark new ideas.
Regula plans on launching some new products in the next three months. This winter she wants to learn new metalsmithing techniques and apply to some artist-in-residency programs.
“I see my jewelry as a vehicle of self-expression and a physical representation of love for our forests. Therefore, I would like to create educational materials about individual tree species and sustainable forest management that can be included in each order,” said Regula. For more information on Regula’s jewelry business, please go to https://www.silvaticadesigns.com/.