What would you like people to know about you?
Hi, my name is Jewel Sales (pronounced Sal-Lis). I’m a queer first-generation Filipinx artist and I started my business, Jewel Sales Art, in the pandemic.
Wow. That’s a lot to unpack.
I’m 28 years old, I was born in New York, raised in Old Bridge, New Jersey and moved back to Bushwick, Brooklyn before moving to Los Angeles, California in 2018. A lot of folks who met me as “Jewel Sales, the Artist'' don't know that I’m a dancer. I went to Mason Gross in Rutger’s University for art school, which was where I first explored oil painting. I didn’t graduate, dropped out due to financial struggles, and decided to move back to New York. I spent the next few years chasing my dream of being a professional dancer while juggling three jobs as a waitress, dance teacher, and working as retail manager.
After 4 years of getting comfortable in my routine, I decided to move to LA (because why not - change is important for growth). I became more focused on my retail job, building a passion for customer service, and really diving into my business savvy side. My next promotion would have been Store Leader, running my own retail store, if the pandemic didn’t hit.
What does being Queer mean to you?
After moving to LA, I discovered my identity as queer. Not bi, not gay, not lesbian — but queer.
Queer means “I’m not straight” with no construct or boxes to identify my sexuality. Queer is also a way of seeing humans as humans without social construct or heteronormativity.
Why am I breaking this down? Because this is what my work is based all around. My work embodies body positivity, feminism, and queer representation. As a queer artist, I felt a sense of urgency to create safe spaces and has been inspired by making people feel a sense of connectedness. I noticed the LGBTQ+ community didn’t have enough nightlife options other than drinking and clubbing. That's when “Paint and Sip with Jewel'' was born. I started to host my own BIPOC + queer paint workshops, as an alternative safe space, colliding art and community (pictured below).
Tell us more about Jewel Sales Art. When did you start, what do you sell, and what are you most proud of?
I started my art business February 1st, the first day I started promoting my Paint and Sip. Now I sell paintings, dried floral arrangements, and other handmade goods. I sell at Melrose Trading Post every Sunday and I do live custom watercolor faceless portraits on the spot. They take 15-20 minutes and customers get to take their custom painting home within the same hour.
Within a year of starting my business, I’ve been able to double my income and quit my full-time job as a retail manager. Now I’ve expanded to having my own art studio space as well as hiring my first employee, my assistant.
Have there been any hurdles along the way? If so, how have you overcome them?
My hurdles: intimidation, comparing myself, not thinking I was enough, being afraid of feedback or criticism without it feeling like a personal attack, and to think bigger monetarily. It’s easy to feel intimidated when you think of starting a business. If I allowed myself to think of every detail, I wouldn’t have the courage or the speed that I do to start this small business.
The way I started this business was actually an accident. When the pandemic hit, I was discouraged to continue planning paint and sip classes. Right before I left my workspace, someone was getting rid of a multiple poster paper that I took home to use as my canvas. I started painting on repurpose paper and posting it on Instagram (with no intention of selling them, just to showcase my self care night activity). I immediately had positive reactions to my paintings and even one influencer friend decided to buy them all. Diana Wakefield, was my first customer, and also a huge reason why I had the confidence to dive in. I hadn’t thought about selling paintings and thought it was an option until that moment.
I started painting more and then it evolved into custom paintings via request. These made me nervous because I never wanted to disappoint anyone. If you’re anything like me, I’m a perfectionist to the tee. I had to let go of perfectionism to be able to create faster and build confidence in my craft. You also have to give yourself mantras to avoid comparing yourself. I like to say things like “There’s enough for everyone. Abundance is real” and “No one will ever do it like you do. Everything you do will always be different from the next person doing the same thing.”
Lastly, don’t be afraid to set goals for yourself. I used to fear announcing a monetary target because I was scared I’d fail or disappoint myself. The truth is, that will also happen, but know that you’re working closer to get to that goal and naturally you just start to plan how to get there faster... until you actually do.
What advice would you give to someone who’s afraid to follow their dreams because they might fail?
Don’t be afraid to fail or to embarrass yourself. Stay consistent to build confidence within yourself. Show up for yourself and keep your word. This will train yourself to build confidence in your word. Be urgent, act with courage. Don’t compare yourself to others, money, followers, journey, or success. Be humble and be open. Don’t be attached to what it looked like. Be flexible with change and adapt. You are a student within your journey. Take everything as feedback and not personal. Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t be afraid to say yes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you're interested in keeping up with Jewel's and her journey, check out @jewelsalesart on Instagram and Tik Tok! You can also purchase her art from www.jewel-sales.com
Art by Jewel Sales pictures below