Tini Courtney is the founder of HOWL, a handmade jewelry line. She creates out of her shop in Venice, California. Her pieces reflect her own spirituality, the people she creates for, and the materials she uses.
How did you get into jewelry?
I was actually in school for fashion design. I slowly realized that I was not a fan of clothing and that whole industry. It was like a year before I graduated I started making my own jewelry and just kind of messing around. People were really interested in what I was doing so I started selling stuff, and I got some press right away. I had the name “Handle Only With Love” (HOWL) as something I just thought of and I just wrote it down. Then the whole dreamcatcher thing just felt like it fit so perfectly with the name of it. So I built a website and it just really took off. I was promoting, throwing parties at clubs and then slowly fizzled out of that, and was able to just do this for the last four years and I am still doing it.
How much has social media impacted your success?
I like to do everything myself, unfortunately I am really stubborn like that. I mean obviously instagram has worked wonders with my business too, which is so nice because you can post something and it is so accessible for someone to see it. I have tried the e-commerce thing so many times, but I am so particular about how my pieces look on a website that I had made my website more of a gallery and less about selling. I think its more about how people see something now and contact me to get more custom, which is what I love to do anyways. A lot of times people will send me their old jewelry or an old jewelry box and I will just recreate whatever I can from there and then give them back the rest of it.
How much spirituality is in your personal life?
I was definitely raised by a mother who is spiritually connected, head in the clouds but feet on the ground kind of woman. She has been doing her own art for the last four years and is very strong and independent, but very out there and does lots of yoga and meditates a lot. It is something I was raised around so for me it is just kind of part of my life. The whole crystal thing and that whole aspect of it, and that being tied into my work is also something that is very important to me. I am such a nerd when it comes to crystals like I am obsessed. They all carry different properties, and I am still learning so much. There is so much to learn, and there are so many different kinds and different ways to use them. It is really interesting to me.
"I want people to feel connected to the pieces."
Do you feel there is a healing power you are sending out with your jewelry?
Absolutely, and it is all about your intention. When I make them I definitely have that intention behind. A lot of people that like these pieces are also attracted to that aspect of it. It is just subconscious you can not help it, like there is a reason why you like certain pieces.
Do you see yourself taking stuff that you are doing by hand and moving them to big manufacturer?
That has been such a battle the last couple of years, but I honestly do not. I really have no desire to do that. I think being able to hand make something and have a timeless piece is so unique. Everyone is always like the money is there, but I really don’t care to be honest. I would rather just like really refine my skills and be able to charge more and be happy doing it. That has what has been happening the past couple years. I have been practicing so much, and learning more things, and it has become more valuable because my time has become more valuable.
“If it was not hand made it would not have as much of a story. It would be going against everything I am about.”
This year for Art Basel I am doing an installation that is definitely going to change my path just because the materials and the category that these pieces are going in. I am using gold leaf and they are 3.5ft metal sculptures and I am implementing pieces of my jewelry into these sculptures. They are really beautiful and I have never done anything like this mind blowing to myself so I am very excited about Basel this year. This installation is in the middle of the Wynwood Walls which is this amazing place to have this. Those pieces to me are like pieces of fine art.
If you are going to Art Basel in Miami go check out Tini's installation at the Wynwood Walls on 25th and NW 2nd Ave. in Wynwood.