Meet Your Maker- Skull Valley Sheep Kill

This week on MYM we have Dominique from Skull Valley Sheep Kill, a bone art and jewelry company. I was instantly drawn in when I saw Dominique's work on Instagram. This kind of art is right up my alley. I tend to be drawn to the odd and peculiar (also I have a skull obsession for those who do not know lol). I was so excited when Dominique agreed to be part of MYM and I hope you become as obsessed with her work as I now am.

Introduce yourself and your business.

I am Dominique Norbeck of Skullvalleysheepkill. I specialize in bone art and jewelry, oddities, curiosities, vintage postcards, upcycled vintage globes as Death Stars and oddity terrarium dioramas.

How did you launch your business & what made you want to start a small business?

My amazing stepdaughter, Vicki, and I would craft every Wednesday. We would paint vintage wingback chairs, upcycle vintage globes as Death Stars, paint, make art from bones we would find, make oragami flowers out of comis....and just hang out. But, time passes and she moved to Oklahoma with her fiance. Then I had neurological surgery on my ankle in June of 2018 and became depressed and stir crazy while confined to the house while I healed. Vicki encouraged me to craft while I recovered...and four months of art and jewlery every day built up. She then encouraged me to take the next step to show my work at local shows and it took off!! I now attend art shows every month and sell on Etsy, Facebook and Instagram.

What are some struggles you had starting your business and how did you over come them?

Advertising and getting my name out there is a constant struggle. This is a side-gig for me, with no starting capital and very low profit margin on each piece I sell. I don't have the means to pay to promote my business and have limited time to spend promoting it myself due to my day job. So the delicate balance of working, living my regular life with my family and friends, making my art, photographing the art, booking, attending and setting up for shows, and then promoting my business all quite a challenge. But the support of my husband and amazing mother keeps me motivated each month.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I love making something beautiful from discarded, unloved things. Nature and scifi are a constant inspiration for my pieces.

What motivates you as a maker?

I love making people happy. Seeing patrons find joy in one of my pieces is so rewarding.  My art is my therapy and for it to make others happy as well is the best feeling.

What is a goal you set for yourself as a maker/artist and how did you achieve it?

Since my art is my therapy and a side business, I never want to be in debt with it. I constantly want to make sure that I meet my break even point with each event (table space is almost never free). Then I take half of my profits to reinvest in materials and the other half I donate to a charity. This business lifts me up, and I want to help lift up others.

What is your favorite part of being a maker?
I love the self expression of making each piece and watching as discarded things become something lovely and loved again.

Do you have any tips for new makers/ small business owners?
Do what makes you happy. As long as what you do brings you joy and does not feel like another job, keep going. It is never "easy" but there is always a network of people you can connect with for inspiration, support and assistance.

What are some hobbies or interests you have outside of your small business?

I am nerd, through and through. I love playing D&D and table top games, watching scifi and fantasy, crafting, traveling with my loving husband, gardening and spending time with my cats. Murder podcasts are everything (Ssdgm and Megustalations!). Drinking wine and running my table at art shows with my phenomenal mother is the best.

Share a fun fact about yourself.
I am a Florida native who loves our natural spaces. I have certifications in gemology, native and invasive flora and fauna, maintain my marine specimen collection license as well as my teaching certificate for secondary education Biology. I was a teacher for 11 years, the curriculum that i developed for AS Marine Science is now the standard in my county as well as the country of Denmark, and I have won local and international awards (through Cambridge University) as a teacher. Due to my ankle surgery I have moved to the post secondary education realm and am now the ERP Training Coordinator for the State College. My love for education, nature and local history shine through in my every day life.

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