For most of her adult life, Excelsior resident Libby Gottsacker worked for Fortune 100 companies. A successful pharmaceutical sales rep, Gottsacker regularly traveled to meet with hospitals and businesses all over the U.S. She also frequently wore jewelry that she had created for herself, and these pieces caught the attention of her fellow travelers and clients. When Gottsacker decided to leave sales, she also decided to turn her longtime jewelry-making passion into an encore career. Art & Soul was born.
“I was always creative,” says Gottsacker, who says she had a natural talent for art, and credits her parents with instilling in her a desire to create. Born and raised in Minnetonka, Gottsacker returned to the Twin Cities in 1989 after spending most of her 20s out of state. She married her husband Mike and started a family. Life was busy, but Gottsacker always found time to create. After leaving the private sector, she launched Art & Soul, a jewelry business that emphasizes community and creativity, in 2004.
Gottsacker’s pieces, which are sold locally at the General Store of Minnetonka, Amore & Fede, and the Excelsior Farmers Market, are unique and often inspired by the world around her. “I have a notebook, and everywhere I go, I am taking notes or drawing pictures,” says Gottsacker. She uses many precious and semi-precious gems and stones from around the world, but she incorporates some unexpected things, too. “I take apart a lot of things,” says Gottsacker, like antique jewelry or decorations. Recently, some customers have been approaching her with specific items that they would like to see in a piece of custom-made jewelry. She’s re-worked family heirloom pieces like an earring missing its mate, or military dog tags. At one point, a client suggested that Gottsacker incorporate essential oils in her designs. Although at that time Gottsacker was unfamiliar with essential oils, she listened, and her collection of essential-oil jewelry is wildly popular. Her diffusion necklaces feature a metal orb with a hinged opening, and a clay ball inside. Wearers add drops of essential oils to the clay ball, and the aromas diffuse throughout the day.
Gottsacker’s customer service doesn’t end there. “I always have my tools,” she says, and she’s been known to make a small adjustment to a client’s necklace or earrings when she runs into her in the grocery store or a coffee shop. Her relationships with her customers are a driving force in her business. Gottsacker sees Art & Soul as way to support and celebrate her clients’ inner and outer beauty, and she says she has received just as much as she has given. “It takes women to encourage women,” says Gottsacker. She speaks highly of Excelsior’s supportive culture for women—“That’s what’s so cool about this little town.” Gottsacker creates pieces for her customers that represent the most important aspects of their identities, and she takes that charge seriously. She describes this process as “capturing their thread” and then putting together a piece of jewelry that is personal and fashion-forward.
In addition to building and celebrating community, Gottsacker also has a formal plan to give back. Each year, she shares a portion of Art & Soul’s proceeds with charitable organizations. In 2015, Art & Soul donated funds to PATH, which provides foster care for children with severe emotional and behavioral problems, and to Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. Just as her jewelry provides outward representation of inner beauty, Gottsacker wants her business to emulate her personal values.
She isn’t sure what the future holds for Art & Soul, but she trusts that her relationships with her clients and the greater community will continue to guide her. “Every year, I just try to make it better,” she says. “It’s a creative springboard.” Above all, Gottsacker wants to live out the mission of Art & Soul: let the outside show what the inside knows.