Lisa Anderson Shaffer is the woman behind eco-friendly jewelry company, Zelma Rose.
Some key factors of her business is that it creates zero to minimal waste and contains
jewelry pieces that are sustainable and packaged in recyclable materials. In addition to
running her own business Lisa is a photographer, writer, psychotherapist, and the host
of a podcast. While doing it all, Lisa keeps herself grounded with her “These Three
Things” project where she identifies three things that she learned each day. She
transformed this idea into a journal, where others can follow along and do the same.
1. When did you realize you wanted to make jewelry? How did this company
After spending most of my young adult life as a fine artist, I continue to be surprised that I have
made and designed a product for the last 10 years! I had a major career switch in 2002 after my
longtime artist residency funding at a Bay Area Cancer Center was cut short. I loved that job
and worked with patients both at the bedside and during treatment, making art. Along with
working with staff and interior design on murals and installations throughout the building. It was
an incredible experience and only discontinued because the state allocated funds elsewhere.
When my residency came to an end, I went back to school to pursue a Masters in Clinical
Psychology. It seems like an odd jump, but I had become deeply interested in psychology while
working with people at the beginning of the end of life at the Cancer Center. I finished my
degree and went on to become a licensed psychotherapist a few years later. Right out of school
I had landed what I thought was my dream job and was working toward opening a private
practice. From a career standpoint things were going great. Privately, my husband and I were
trying to start a family, which was taking longer than we had expected, and the toll of that grief
made me rethink my emotional capacity as a mom and a psychotherapist. I knew I needed a
break. Of course as I began the process to take a leave from my practice, I became pregnant.
It’s always a great business plan to switch careers right in the middle of pregnancy, but that
what I did! I made a hard pivot back to art and teaching. Since I had never created a product, I
was really interested in making things that had a use. Whether it was furniture or clothing,
accessories. I started playing around with some jewelry ideas and after a few weeks, Zelma
Rose was up and running in July of 2010.
2. What are some things that inspire your designs?
. Inspiration for my designs is so varied. People are always surprised to learn that a major
source of inspiration for Zelma Rose comes from skateboarding. I spend a good deal of time
each week watching skateboarding videos and looking at skateboarding photography. There is
something about the fluidity of movement, the sounds, and the tension between the very soft
and organic shapes of the human form, dancing upon the very hard and defined lines of
architecture and concrete. Other than skateboarding, I gather a great deal of inspiration from nature.
I love both the wide and narrow focus that nature provides. The shapes and majesty of a
redwood tree from afar. The intricacy of bark and needles and color of the same tree when
viewed close up. I try to replicate that in all my designs. I want them to make an impact from
both a distance and up close.
3. What is your favorite piece of jewelry that you have made?
The ESTERO NECKLACE continues to be my most favorite Zelma Rose design to both make
and wear. It was the first necklace in the series of hand woven designs that have become the
signature of my brand. The design almost never went to market because to start, I could not
create it in a concentrated amount of time. The weaving method requires me to use over 1,000
inches of continuous cord. Which is a lot and can be very hard to manipulate. It wasn’t until I
discovered that if I stood up while weaving, I could significantly cut down on production time.
Otherwise, the necklace would have cost around $1000.00, which didn’t seem reasonable.
4. How has starting the “These Three Things” project changed you as a
person/impacted the way you look at life?
Working on THESE THREE THINGS has had an enormous impact on my life. As a
psychotherapist, I was aware of the physical and neurological benefits of maintaining a daily
practice, but a lot of the findings are often talked about aligned with meditation or a gratitude
practice. While I think both of those are great daily practices, they were not for me and outside
of yoga, I had really fought beginning a daily practice. I started writing the project at the
encouragement of a friend and so far it’s been over 1,400 consecutive days of sharing three
things I’ve learned. Of all the benefits I’d say the most dramatic has been having a greater
capacity to listen. Listening is so important. I knew this as a psychotherapist, but it’s amazing
how we shut down a lot of our listening and openness. Starting each day with the intent to learn
three things has me approach each day with a willingness to learn and listen. Sharing that with
a community of people who are also working on the project each day has been really impactful.
It’s almost like there is no going back.
5.You are a woman of many talents. With all that you do, where do you fit in time
to unwind? What does your daily schedule look like?
My daily schedule is all about being creative and flexible. Especially as of late! One of the joys
of Zelma Rose has been to always create my own schedule. My studio hours revolve around my
daughter’s school hours and whatever else she has going on. My biggest self care is working on
THESE THREE THINGS each day. After that, I make sure to listen to music every single day. I
get out and walk or move my body via dance each day at minimum. And probably the most
helpful agent of my self care is that my husband and I are not big talkers. At the day’s end we
can just be quiet together, which is so incredibly healing and restorative.
6. What is something you accomplished that you are the most proud of?
Writing a book was always something I wanted to do, even though I had never been a writer!
Once I started I couldn’t stop and I’ve had a few other writing projects in the works for the past
year. I even started working on some fiction, which I never thought I would do. I just love trying
7.What are your goals for the future/something you would like to accomplish one
My main goal right now with Zelma Rose is to continue the work I began in 2017 of making ZR
a brand that was committed to reflecting all beauty. I have found a wonderfully diverse group of
women who continue to help me with that commitment, but there is always to goal of working
toward more inclusion in every way shape and form. So we continue to do the work. On the
personal side, I’ve recently gotten into podcasting. Biased Cuts is a relatively new sartorial
podcast I host with my designer friend J’Amy Tarr. We cover the industry, mostly its
shortcomings and interview creatives and designers committed to creating a more inclusive and
sustainable fashion industry. I’m in the process of writing and recording a psychology-centric
podcast called Joy is Now. The process has been exciting and I cannot wait to start sharing
some of my favorite psychological ideas and theories with listeners. Outside of that, I am
considering pursuing a PhD. Not sure how or when, but I’m looking for a program that is a good
fit and can work around all the other fun things I have going on. It might be a fantasy, but I won’t
know until I try.