Selfie - creative-confident
Inner Light - grounded alignment
Message to women everywhere - “Every woman has power inside of her. Men utilize their power all the time without consciousness, and women feel powerless because of that. Women also have power: Find it and use it.”
Sophie threads a hair-thin, gold wire into a square flat clasp half the size of an earring back. She ties the wire in an intricate loop around the clasp. She repeats this process, which she calls beading, with another thin wire and tiny clasp. As her agile fingers spin and weave metal through stone, Sophie describes how she has always loved to make things. A sensitive and quiet child growing up, Sophie Silverstein's favorite activity was treasure-hunting with her mother at beads stores and collecting materials to serve as mediums for her creativity. She continued her maker’s passion into adulthood, and crafting jewelry grew into her business, now at Slate & Stone Jewelry.
A lover of world travel, Sophie shares about a time a few years ago when she was lost. Having recently left an unsatisfying job as a manager at an education firm, she traveled to the remote mountains of Ecuador. In this high altitude Andean country, it is thin air, no wifi, and scarce potable water. Sophie had taken a long ride on a rickety bus into the region to find Lake Quilotoa, a crater lake created centuries ago by a volcanic explosion. When she arrived, she didn’t have a place lined up for the night. “I was having a hard time. I was by myself, and it was freezing,” Sophie recalls. An Ecuadorian man approached and offered her a place to stay, pointing to his uncle’s tin-roof structure nearby. Sophie took a leap of faith and agreed. Then she set out to find Lake Quilotoa. Having been warned about encountering rabid dogs, she picked up a big rock. Following the signs, she wandered around seeming to go in circles. “It was an uncertain time in my life, and I was feeling low.” She hiked a while, rock in hand, increasingly skeptical of finding anything. “Then I turn a corner and all the sudden, I see this massive, dark turquoise, gorgeous crater lake. It was so strikingly beautiful. And it contrasted so sharply with how I felt inside.” Brought to tears, Sophie sat down along the edge of the lake and let the blue-green waters align her. When she returned later to the tin-roof shack, she discovered it belonged to an indigenous family with small children. The family fed her dinner. She was safe. Surrounded by good people and the beauty in the landscape she’d found, Sophie reflected how differently the day ended from how it began. Where we are headed is often not clear, and trusting oneself along the twists and turns is a scary thing to do. Sophie says, “That was for me a powerful experience of letting go and what we can receive when we do.”
Adventurous yet grounded, Sophie brings unique insights to her work as a transitional coach and college counselor. Sophie guides students through an important time in their lives as they ponder and plan for life after high school. With backgrounds in both traditional education and alternative counseling, she supports students through the college application process, but she can also be a trusted resource for students contemplating alternative paths. Sophie says, “My work is very much about the holistic student.” By following her own path, even when it isn't clear, Sophie founded her jewelry business and built a coaching practice. Sophie believes that everyone has resources within to draw from. As we grow aware of our own power, we are more able to access our inner strength to build a life that is truly our own. "I want to help my students feel empowered so they can bring their truest and best selves to the world.” She helps students open up their thinking about the options they have as they enter adulthood. She also advocates for them by navigating tricky conversations between students and their parents or other influences who might have different expectations. “For me, the most real way to make an impact is through one-on-one interactions. I hold space for each person to be vulnerable. I hope that through my deep listening, I can be a part of helping someone realize something about his or herself and become empowered.”
Sophie admits that though she doesn’t feel it acutely from day-to-day, there are moments when she faces her own vulnerabilities. Moments like when the jewelry she presents to the world isn’t received as she hopes. “Each piece I create is a wordless representation of something within me. If people don’t like it, even if I intellectually know it’s just about preference, it can still hurt.” Sophie also describes herself as “such a doer.” So she is not only an artist, she is also a coach and an entrepreneur building two businesses. She is also the producer of The Good Craft, a socially-conscious pop up market that showcases works of emerging artists. Sophie loves all her doing, and each one feels authentic to her being. “But I know that all these things I do are projected images of my identity,” she says. “And I know that I don’t have to do all or any of these things to be who I am.” When the labels are stripped away, beyond how we are seen or projected, that then is where our core being lies. Sophie says, “It's actually in moments of stillness when I’m not doing that I truly know I am enough.”
When Sophie finishes the beading in her hands, she has built a bridge through a cloud-shaped, translucent crystalline to a gold chain and created a delicate necklace. The necklace wears effortlessly. Like its maker, it creates presence without screaming for space, an ethereal cloud-cystalline floating elegantly between the head and the heart.
Photos provided by Rachel Heydemann