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Name: Penni Jo Couch

Business: Best Flexible Molds, LLC., clay molds for 3-D designs 

Industry: Design  

Location: Maysville, Oklahoma, U.S.

Reason for starting: As a long time sculptor using colorful polymer clay, and wanting a pair of earrings one weekend to match my mother’s pendant but not wanting to sculpt two alike, I sculpted one. Since my studio was very well equipped a solid rubber push mold was planned. With open areas left in the mold form, several other companion pieces were also sculpted. To create a mold form a 16 ounce cup was glued to the tile to surround the sculpted designs glued there. The rubber was mixed, poured into the form then put into the vacuum chamber to remove any air bubbles in the design.

After several hours of curing, a small, flexible, solid push mold was ready to use. That little mold was the beginning. Wanting pretty, organic artwork jewelry in my favorite colors, more molds followed. Friends saw my jewelry and wanting designs in their favorite colors, asked for molds. My husband started selling our little round molds on E-Bay. Our little weekend projects were getting a lot of good attention and eventually grew until when retirement came our way we began to focus on more designs, more products and travel.

Related: Read about another design entrepreneur here.

How do you define success? At 39, I had no idea I was a sculptor until I picked up a block of clay. The next 7 years in a home based studio making OOAK’s allowed me to be a stay at home mom. I was hired in ’90 as a designer/sculptor by United Design Corp and was there for 15 years. Now in our 70’s we enjoy staying busy, having time for family and time to relax as we tire more easily. Our little organic designs, cabochon and caboshape molds are now sold world wide and we have enough orders to keep us occupied but not exhausted. We travel occasionally to polymer clay retreats where I demonstrate a project, sometimes teach and, as vendors, usually sell enough to cover our expenses. Success is enjoying our lives in our golden years.

Biggest Success: Our solid flexible molds in original designs. After trying to mold a design in a flimsy mold, it became apparent to me that, if I was frustrated at the poor design of the mold, other’s might be also. Working with United Design allowed me to understand the materials and machines of the industry. The urethane rubber used to make a solid backing for molds became the material from which our molds have been made since the first day. I count staying with my original commitment to beautiful designs and well made molds a huge success and I thank God daily for the skill and energy he provides.

Related: Read about another Jewelry designer here.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Life with my husband is most important to me as we are a team. Balancing time for both home and work is my top challenge; staying on top of all the social stuff and keeping up with design. Sculpting is time consuming, photography and photo work in PhotoShop is time consuming, writing tutorials is time consuming and keeping up with facebook, blog, Pinterest, website, etc, is hard. I am currently working on prioritizing daily lists both household and business and de-cluttering my studio to speed up my work.

Who is your most important role model? Hard to say. I am not a follower of people on TV or movies and know little of business tycoons. The teachings of Christ, the golden rule, and positive qualities rank very highly with me, so a woman like Mother Teresa ranks very, very high. But, the everyday person who does what is right, when those around him or her are doing what’s easy and wrong is heroic in my eyes.

Twitter   @Claylady43

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