In this week’s session of the COFFEE TALK we present Maslo Jewelry – minimal and fresh label from Virgina run by Nicole who started the brand in 2003 and now shares her story with us.
FIRST TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOU…
I grew up in the northern part of Virginia. I attended college for Graphic Design, which made me realise that I want to use the ideas in my head to make something tangible. It took a while to finally start creating jewellery. After school I did some work in retail visuals for different stores including Anthropologie. When I first switched over to jewellery, I focused on taking vintage items and combining them with newer, industrial materials. About 6 years ago I started to depart from that and began toying around with creating more minimal, and modern work. Maslo Jewelry changes and evolves along with me, but it has always kept that minimal, classic feel.
WHAT HAS PROMPTED YOU TO ESTABLISH YOUR OWN LABEL?
I didn’t see anyone out there creating what I wanted to make and wear. This was at the same time that I had come to realise I was not a huge fan of the 9-5 schedule or working for someone else’s vision. It seemed like a no brainer to me to just start designing and go wherever it took me. I started making pieces on the side to sell online and at shows and then as time went on the business picked up enough for me to be able to devote all my attention to Maslo.
HOW DOES A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE AS A DESIGNER LOOK LIKE?
The thing about being a designer with your own small brand is that no two days will ever look exactly the same. I have a great studio space where I make jewellery, work on new ideas, and prepare shipments to customers and stores. If I am not at the studio, I am running around supply stores, events, or to look for inspiration. It’s hectic, but it is a part of what I love about owning my own business – variety.
WHERE IS YOUR STUDIO BASED IN? WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT ITS LOCATION?
I have recently moved studios. I was in a large community of artist studio spaces/gallery/event space called Plant Zero, but I just switched to another space right next door. Both are located in the Manchester neighbourhood of Richmond, VA. It’s downtown and is an area you could describe as up and coming. There is a lot of old buildings converted into apartments and restaurants. It has a nice down to earth/industrial vibe, along with a lot of creative people. The best part of my new studio is the ridiculously large double doors that bring in a lot of warm light.
HOW DOES YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
I like to get inspiration out in the world and then instead of sketching or messing around in a design program, I like to actually touch and feel things with my hands. I find that easier. I just dive into playing around with materials by hand and spread a million bits and pieces onto a table and see what comes out. From there I will sometimes make an item and task friends with wearing them for a day or two to see if there are any practical design flaws, or to get any feedback they have.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK, HOW DO NEW IDEAS COME TO YOU?
This is hard for me to answer, because I do not like to limit myself. I can find inspiration anywhere. Sometimes I may go to a museum and wander around, sit and people watch, or I may in general love the way that something industrial can pair amazingly well with something soft. Even the smallest thing at any random moment can spark an idea.
ARE THERE ANY CHALLENGES YOU HAD TO OVERCOME IN BECOMING A DESIGNER?
The hard part about working for yourself and working within the fashion industry is that stores and customers are always demanding to see new stuff. The creative process for me is such an organic, natural thing that it is hard to force myself to come up with something when I haven’t felt inspiration for it yet. I don’t want any of my pieces to feel forced. Learning to balance the demand within the industry and with my design abilities has been tricky, but you get used to it, it just takes time. Another tricky aspect is that you’re always working, you may check out for the day but you’re always thinking about your business, the next idea and what’s on your to do list. The fact that I love what I do doesn’t make that a bad thing though.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT FASHION? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FASHION WORLD IN GENERAL?
People do not give enough credit to those in the fashion industry. It is a business of course, but it is an art. Technology and the internet have made it so much easier for people with a drive to do quality work and to find an outlet for getting their product out there to potential buyers. This has made competition for smaller brands harder, but it has also increased the audience. I love getting an order from the other side of the world because it reminds me that what I am doing really does have value that transcends language and culture. Fashion really is an art and design at its core.
WHICH MATERIALS DO YOU PREFER TO WORK WITH?
I like working with metals and other unexpected materials. Jewellery and accessories are usually so feminine that I enjoy being able to take it in the opposite direction and have details made from things you could normally find in a home improvement store or on a construction site. I craft them into something beautiful, but still with a specific edge and a minimal feel.
TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORK/COLLECTION – Copper Noir et Blanc...
I wanted something that could be worn as a statement piece, but that wouldn’t be overpowering. The items are bold but simple. I like to think that Copper Noir et Blanc necklaces and bracelets standout and make an outfit, but at the same time don’t take away from the person wearing them. I achieved this through designing large, unusual pieces, but kept the colours and shapes very classic and minimal.
WHAT FUTURE DO YOU IMAGINE FOR YOUR BRAND? DO YOU THINK YOUR FOCUS WILL STAY ON JEWELLERY?
As a creator and artist I always have new ideas on the horizon. I’ll be launching my paper goods line within the next month, which focuses on minimal graphic design. I wanted to create simple paper goods that were nice to use and to look at. As for the next jewellery line, it’s a safe bet that I will continue to use untraditional materials, simple colour palettes, and geometric shapes. Ultimately, I will always create jewellery, it is where I’ve come from and I wouldn’t want to leave that behind. However, I am planning on experimenting more with other kinds of accessories in the future, both wearable and for the home. I’m considering more and more taking Maslo in the direction of a lifestyle brand since I think my love for all things minimal and sleek could translate well into all types of design.
FINALLY, WHAT DOES MINIMALISM MEAN TO YOU?
Minimalism to me is keeping things clean, focused, and simple. It’s a chaotic world, so I know there is beauty in breaking that down.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MASLO JEWELRY.