Text and photos by Paige Benedetto
She constantly kisses the shore with her deep blue lips, and when the storms come she crashes onto the sand with fury. With every new sweep or crash The Ocean brings with her presents for the sand. She moves, scatters, and even takes seashells back to sea with every contraction. There is no organization in her madness as she showers the sand with a cascade of color.
Sea Goats Studio was inspired and created with the ocean’s handiwork as its backbone. The constant display of seashells on the sand caught the eye of Erin Wilson, and motivated her to create her own business filled with stunning pieces of seashell jewelry.
“My friend and I are both Capricorns and she was the one who gave me the name. A Capricorn is a sea goat. A Capricorn is half goat and half fish, it is a goat that lives in the sea,” Erin said with a giggle.
Erin was born and raised in Ocean City, so the beach and nature have always surrounded her life. When she was younger, Erin walked along the shore with her family collecting any and every seashell that she thought was pretty. When she got home she’d place her shells into a clear jar as a decoration for everyone to look at and enjoy their natural beauty.
As Erin grew up and gained confidence in herself her creativity began to flourish. She taught herself how to wrap the shells in wire by watching YouTube videos, and started to experiment with her own style.
“I have learned that I am never going to do it wrong. I used to be scared. I would look at all of my shells in a jar, and I didn’t want to do it wrong, so I never did anything. But now I know that if I don’t like what I have created I can always do it again. I have learned to just go with the flow,” Erin said.
The process for choosing the shells that will ultimately be created into necklaces is much simpler than one may expect. Erin goes to the beach and picks up all shells that catch her eye. However, it wasn’t always like this, Erin used to only pick up the shells she thought people would buy, but now she picks up everything, even broken shells.
When a person buys a piece of jewelry by Sea Goats Studios, they will be transported to the beach. Erin’s pieces are natural, and the organic vibe of the shell is enhanced by the way Erin decides to wrap each shell in wire. Each shell is wrapped in different colored wire that complements the color of the shell, and the wrapping often resembles the shape of a honeycomb. Erin then attaches different length chains to each shell, and the necklace is created. The jewelry will accent any outfit, and is an easy go-to piece while making a subtle statement.
Sea Goats Studio launched only a few months ago, but Erin is already selling her jewelry on Etsy. The idea of staying small and local is appealing to her, and she has no plans to expand her jewelry into other stores.
“Typical seashell jewelry is a shell from Florida that has been glazed over. A hole is punched into the shell and you put a piece of leather through the hole and you sell thousands of them that all look the same,” Erin said.
This stamped out product is the last thing that Erin would ever want her business to become. Strolling the beaches of Ocean City, hand selecting her pieces, and creating jewelry by hand, is her passion. The mass production of stereotypical seashell jewelry, Erin believes, is a craft, and not art.
“I am expressing myself and making my own decisions when it comes to my jewelry,” she said.
The business, for Erin, is not about the money, but her love for the beach, sand, collecting, and seashells. She currently makes necklaces from the shells of Ocean City, but hopes to create different types of jewelry from various beaches in South Jersey.
The future for Sea Goats Studio is bright. Erin has found her niche and is excited to keep creating and experimenting with different styles. She currently has some driftwood at her house and is just trying to figure out how she might wrap it so it is wearable. Erin wants everyone that buys her jewelry to be very happy with the way that it looks. She originally started this business because she liked to look at shells in jars, so Erin hopes every buyer truly loves to look at the jewelry they pick out to wear.