If you seek artisan made goods, Central Texas is the place to be. Some attribute it to the magical waters flowing from springs into the river, some attribute it to the weather, others to the people. No matter the reason, one cannot deny that Central Texas is home to a thriving entrepreneurial/artisan movement – a movement that now accepts bitcoin!
One such artisan is Bitcoin enthusiast and singer/songwriter, Sarah Stollak, owner of World on a String Jewelry. I met Sarah at one of my husband’s activist related court dates. She was sitting beside me crocheting jewelry with writing pens because her crochet needles were confiscated at the security checkpoint at the courthouse.
This radical woman is not afraid to be herself or stand up for what she believes. As an activist with the Peaceful Streets Project, a grassroots police accountability group in Central Texas, Sarah has participated in reigning in police brutality in Austin, Texas, a problem so prevalent in the area that several officers have become notorious through internet memes portraying their aggression against the Austin populace.
The outward expression of her passion for everything beautiful has resulted in years of creative outpouring through music and art. When Sarah takes the stage, you can not help but be brought to your feet. Her fiddle dances along with her, creating an irresistible urge to get up and join in the fun. Sarah has become a farmer’s market icon, playing at venues peppered throughout Central Texas and across the country. These days she includes a Bitcoin QR code for accepting crypto-tips while on stage.
I caught up with Sarah to talk about the genesis of her business and why she started accepting Bitcoin. I asked her to tell the story of her business from idea to fruition; here is what she had to say:
“My mom taught me how to knit in 1993 and I’ve been creating ever since. When I moved to Austin in 2004, I started an artisan booth at local markets, street fairs, and special events. Vending was supposed to be temporary while I found a real job, but almost a decade later here I am, still a full time creative entrepreneur.”
It was actually our family who introduced Bitcoin into the World on a String economy. We commissioned thirteen necklaces and bracelets from Sarah for our wedding party in late 2013. When bitcoin hit $125 I was thrilled to pay her, thinking it was hitting a huge high and allowing our family to get a great bang for our bit. Lo and behold, just weeks after making payment, Sarah watched her Bitcoin hit an all time high of over $1,000 per bitcoin.
Here is our wedding party. I still wear my wedding jewelry today and receive compliments everywhere I go. Each piece is hand crocheted with love and delicacy, providing a truly unique and hand crafted look.
Sarah used the profit from that first bitcoin transaction to reinvest in the Bitcoin ecosystem, “I reinvested in my local community by taking out a radio ad on The Liberty Beat on 90.1 FM, and by hiring some of my favorite local musicians for a Bitcoin Shopping and Social Event.”
Real world businesses mean real world problems. Using and accepting bitcoin has not been a flawless transition for Sarah.
“There are still obstacles transacting in Bitcoin, but that’s part of what makes it fun, to be in the midst of something changing and growing so quickly.” One example of a bitcoin roadblock was sending payment to the Unconventional Oven, she was their first bitcoin user, but she “used the wrong email address to pay and after a month the funds were sent back.”
Sarah said it was the people at the Austin Bitcoin Meetup who helped her to understand and successfully figure out how to use a QR code instead of using email addresses. “In addition to technology, patience and a friendly community are always important,” said Sarah. Despite the obstacles, Sarah would still recommend accepting bitcoin to her fellow artisans if for no other reason than to “make it easy for people to give you money”.
You can support this Bitcoin Artisan by visiting www.worldonastring.us.
Read the full transcript of my interview with Sarah here: http://www.thebitmom.com/transcript-interview-with-sarah-stollak-of-world-on-a-string/