Hi! ♡ My name is Corina and I’m the creator of the label Wild & Free Jewelry. In 2011 I started my brand on Etsy out of a love for unique bohemian fashion and a simple creative passion. At the time I still lived at home with my parents and after creating a flower crown, feather necklace or a seashell headband, I would go into their backyard and use my tripod to photograph the designs on myself, or convince amazing friends to model my creations. I found this whole process so exciting and completely fell in love with it.
Through sharing these photos online I started to receive a lot of inquiries from other brands asking me to photograph and model their designs. After discovering I had a passion for supporting other designers and sharing their work through styling and photography I decided I would start the Wild & Free Blog (wildandfreeblog.com) – a virtual world of my personal fashion sense, travel, and the topics that inspire me.
I operated both Wild & Free Jewelry and the Wild & Free Blog throughout college, while maintaining two jobs. No matter how much it felt like I didn’t have time to fit my creative endeavors into my busy school and work schedule, I kept at it and as soon as I graduated I decided to pursue both with full force.
In 2015 I took the leap and decided to quit my current job and commit to the world I created with Wild & Free. When I first started my journey in 2011 I had no idea my small Etsy shop would morph into a full time career. I pursued it because it made me happy and never once looked back to question my decision. Today I’m completely self-employed and now, I hope to encourage others to do what makes them happy and follow their passions in life.
Tell me a bit about yourself ~ where did you grow up, what did you go to school for?
I grew up in Gaviota, California, about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara. I moved a couple times growing up but always stayed in the general area of Santa Ynez Valley. For school, I went to Santa Barbara City College and UCSB. First studying photography and a few elements of graphic design at SBCC and later going on to get my Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at UCSB.
What is your favorite thing about running your own business?
Ahhh, I LOVE nearly everything about running my own business. It’s truly hard for me to pick one thing, but I guess the main aspect I adore the most is waking up and feeling inspired to start my work day. Monday’s are really exciting for me because it sets the tone for a new week of work and I love waking up, making tea, and then walking across the hall into my office to start creating. I also adore the days I get to go on solo adventures into the wilderness with my tripod to do blog shoots. I find nature so healing and when I can combine that with photography it fills my soul with happiness.
When & how did you get into graphic design?
I studied a bit of graphic design in college at SBCC and after learning the basics I started to apply it to my business. I used to do collages and image overlays a lot when I first started my brand & blog, but only just got back into it thanks to some inspiring work I’ve discovered on Instagram.
What are your favorite things to design?
Out of my current collection, I really like designing the jackets. They’re very substantial so when one is finally finished and sewn together it feels like a big accomplishment.
What inspires your work?
One of the main catalysts for inspiration when it comes to my work rests on trying to capture the magical feeling of wonder and amazement we often feel as children. When I was young I felt like every single day was magic and it seemed like the world was bursting with opportunity and love. I always looked forward to school and in general, felt open and excited to learn. When I was a child, I made myself a pact to try and never lose sight of that sense of wonder. When I started creating accessories for Wild & Free Jewelry and photographing them, it ignited that same sense of magic I felt as a child. I think at that moment I recognized the power of listening your instinct and nurturing that inner voice. Since then I’ve felt very driven by that feeling, and it certainly shapes the way I view work and the way I approach my business as a whole. Aside from that, I’m always incredibly inspired by nature, especially elements like mountains, sunsets, wildflowers and the ocean.
We see lots of animal imagery in your work, what is the significance of animals in your art?
I adore animals! Their presence on Earth is so special and I think I incorporate them into my work because I’m so fascinated by their beauty.
Do you have a spirit animal?
If I do, I haven’t discovered it yet, as I feel very enamored with all animals so it’s hard to feel that one is calling to me. I can tell you, I’m weirdly obsessed with baby pigs (I think I would start crying of happiness if I could hold one in real life). I also LOVE baby cows! I recently bottle fed a baby cow and it was the cutest experience. Of course, I also get overly excited and scream out loud whenever I see a butterfly.
Do you have any advice for young artists who are afraid to take the leap into trying to support themselves as creatives?
YES! The best advice I can give to anyone feeling scared to pursue a creative lifestyle is to put the self-doubt on hold and just do it! Turn your thoughts & dreams into actions. Even in the absolute worst case scenario, when things don’t work out, you’ll still have made the effort and learned a lot about yourself in the process. There’s truly nothing to be afraid of because every instance that occurs is a chance to learn and grow, and that’s not scary, that’s an amazing part of being alive.
What are some choices you make in your day to day life to live more sustainably?
Ever since participating in Plastic Free July last year I keep bamboo utensils and metal straws in my car for moments when I’m eating away from home. I try to avoid plastic, use eco-friendly products on my hair, skin and laundry, and as of two years ago I eat a plant based diet. I also package & ship all orders for Wild & Free Jewelry with zero plastic and as little waste as possible. ☺
What are your favorite collaborations you have done? Do you enjoy working collaboratively?
I adore having the opportunity to meet other creatives and work together! It’s so fun! I think my favorite collaborations so far have been ones centered on traveling to Guatemala for my blog. The first one I ever did was for Stela9. Jess, the owner behind the label, really opened my eyes to the world of travel as that was the first time I ever ventured internationally alone. A couple years later I went back to Guatemala for Thread Caravan, a travel company that hosts artisan adventures around the world. With Thread Caravan I learned to weave from Guatemalan women and later on in the trip, visited the Mayan ruins of Tikal. Tikal was incredibly special as we woke up at 3am and hiked into the park with stars in the sky, ultimately watching the sun rise, and listening to the sounds of the jungle come to life, from the top of an ancient Mayan Temple. I still remember those moments vividly and I know I’ll hold them close to my heart for as long as I live.
Guatemala is seriously majestic and my time there would not have happened had it not been for Jess and Caitlin (the owner of Thread Caravan) reaching out with an interest in collaborating. I think it’s so important to support one another in the creative world and I feel very fortunate to have connected with many like-minded individuals over the years.
If you could teleport anywhere, where would you go?
I would love to go back to Monument Valley in Utah! I recently went with a friend but we only stayed for a couple of hours as we were on a time crunch to get back to California. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and I would love to go back and ride horses through the valley.
How would you spend your ideal Saturday night?
Ideally I would make a delicious dinner, work on an order or two and then cozy up in bed and read a book. I love learning and reading books is one of my favorite things to do when I have the time. Some I’ve read the last couple of years and loved are: A New Earth, The Four Agreements and 101 Essays that will Change the Way You Think.
In the spirit of Woman Crush Wednesday, is there a certain woman that inspires you?
YESSSS! So many women, inspire me, I could go on for days! But, in the spirit of staying concise I would have to say one of my recent crushes is writer Bianca Sparacino. I first discovered her writing on Pinterest, which then lead me to her Instagram (@rainbowsalt) and ever since I’ve been in awe of her as a person and a writer. I especially love the following from her work –
“When I ask you about your first love
I am always secretly hoping
that you will say
your own name.
Now wouldn’t that be beautiful –
To above all else,
have a heart
that was proud of itself."