From delicate everyday gemstones to statement pieces worn by Lily Tomlin on Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” artist Lexie Rundquist kindles confidence through her art.
In a brief summary, what do you do?
I am a studio artist and a teacher. I specialize in electroform jewelry, utilizing gemstones and metal to create large, one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Electroforming is a process in which electricity is pulsed through a copper coil, transferring the copper onto the conductive surface of my jewelry, molecule by molecule, building a thick plate of metal that can look smooth and sleek, or rough and organic. This process can take anywhere from six to twelve hours.
I also teach workshops at Unglued and art classes for adults with Traumatic Brain Injuries at Heartsprings in Fargo.
How did you get started in jewelry creation?
I grew up in a really creative family; my mom was my art teacher, my dad was very handy, and my two older sisters are also artists. Growing up, we all had the space within our home and the support and supplies needed to be creative and to make whatever we wanted. As a kid, I also loved playing dress up. That was when I discovered that an outfit could make you feel a certain way, whether confident or powerful or happy. So, in high school, I got into sewing and started playing around with fashion. I created a lot of my own accessories and clothing. One day, I was shopping at a mall, and someone asked me where I’d gotten the necklace I was wearing. I told her I’d made it, and she ended up buying it right off my neck! With support from friends and family, I opened an Etsy shop in 2012, and that’s where my business officially started.
Where does the name AEROW come from?
There are really two answers to that question. First, I wanted a strong, simple symbol for my brand as I was getting started, something that spoke to how I view myself as an artist and my art. To me, an arrow symbolizes perpetual forward motion. After some word play, I realized spelling it AEROW would allow me a more personalized touch: AER are my initials and OW is Original Works. So, I get the two-for-one of a tie to my name and a powerful personal symbol.
How do you hope people feel when wearing your art?
I hope my jewelry makes people feel happy and pretty and powerful and confident and feminine.
What’s your favorite part about what you do?
I love creating. I love making something from nothing–having an idea and bringing that idea into reality. It’s pretty satisfying. I also really love challenging myself. As my own boss, I really enjoy that I have the opportunity to challenge myself and to reflect on previous works to see my progress.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am constantly inspired by nature. I worked outdoors throughout my teens and early twenties, and through that, I learned to be inspired by everything outside. I’m really inspired by the organic and rough, the sleek and beautiful and soft. I take a lot of that and try to produce it in my work. My husband and I also take a lot of road trips. I get quite a bit of inspiration from traveling through different landscapes and cities and towns. I’m also inspired by the works of other visual artists. Seeing what other creatives are making usually triggers something within me and makes me want to get back in the studio.
What do you do to boost your creativity?
I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work. I find that listening to a story or listening to another person be passionate and creative is inspiring. Whenever I’m feeling really uninspired, I’ll go to an art store and find some tools to create in a medium that I don’t feel I’ve mastered. Right now, I’m doing a lot of watercolor. I’ll take mini breaks to work on a piece for a little bit and then head back to the studio feeling refreshed. I’m also inspired by teaching. Being around creative people who are eager to learn helps get me passionate about my own projects.
What has been the scariest/most challenging part of being an entrepreneur?
I kind of fell into this business. The hardest part for me has been finding a balance between the creative side of AEROW and the business side. I’m also working on learning that sometimes I have to say no to opportunities when they arise. As a creative, I get excited about projects and ideas when they come to me, but I have to work on setting boundaries for myself and my business and focus on what needs to get done. It’s actually something of a goal I’ve set for myself this year.
What advice would you give to Ladyboss entrepreneurs just starting out?
Be brave and be bold when you’re making decisions for your business. A lot of good things have come my way from having the courage to just jump in. Also, there’s a lot more of the business side of things than you might expect when you’re just getting started as a creative entrepreneur. So, take a business class, or tap the nearly infinite resources online to make sure you know what you’re doing. There are also a lot of great creatives in Fargo-Moorhead and in the Ladyboss community who are great resources!
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the risks that I’ve taken. At first, I was afraid to create statement pieces because I thought people would think they were too crazy and too big. I still get that reaction sometimes, but I find that a lot of people really identify with them. I’m really proud that I took the chance on creating those larger pieces, because they truly come from my soul. Each statement piece finds a wearer who resonates with it.
Who is your hero and why?
I’ve always been a fan of Lady Gaga. I really admire her work ethic and how willing she is to continuously reinvent herself. After making her name with pop anthem-y songs, she’s released completely different works which are more personal, but just as fantastic. I want to be that kind of artist, who can continuously be myself and keep making art that comes from my soul.
How did it feel to see your pieces worn by Lily Tomlin on “Grace & Frankie”?
It was pretty surreal. I’m honestly still a little in shock. I felt so lucky, and I cried the first time I saw Lily Tomlin wearing my jewelry in the trailer.
What are your top must-read books or podcasts for Ladybosses?
Books: Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Podcasts: Goal Digger and, of course, My Favorite Murder, because you just need awesome feminist comedians talking about true crime while you’re spending hours creating in the studio.
What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
I’m really excited to continue to streamline my wholesale process and to meet future AEROW wearers at shows. I’m also eager to see how my design process continues to evolve, as it sometimes surprises me as much as anyone else. I just can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store!