Chatting with: Jennifer Merchant
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Chatting with: Jennifer Merchant

This blog is an exercise in vanity for sure, but it doesn’t have to be about me ALL the time, right?  I miss editing and interviewing and whatnot, so I’ll be incorporating some fun, hopefully interesting stuff with OTHER PEOPLE (gasp!) into the site. First up? Jewelry designer Jennifer Merchant!

I first came across Jennifer Merchant‘s bold jewelry designs while browsing One-Offs Yippee! and noticed almost everything I liked was from her collection. Corian jewelry? Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? I decided to be nosy and ask the Savannah College of Art & Design graduate and Minneapolis resident a bit more about herself.

Tell me a bit about your transition to full-time jewelry designer and entrepreneur.

My transition to full time was sort of an accident. I had been waiting tables to pay the bills, and I ended up losing my job… Best thing to ever happen to me! It was the kick in the pants I needed to really put my all into my business. I am an all or nothing kind of girl, so I decided instead of trying to find another menial job to ‘pay the bills’ I’d jump head first into selling my jewelry!

What has been the hardest part?

The hardest part has been trying to run my business with pretty much no money to put into it. Luckily, I’m creative and have found a way to make beautiful jewelry out of really inexpensive materials. I print my own tags, take my own photographs, use only social media to market… someday soon I hope to be able to farm out some/all of these tasks so that I can focus more on creating! All in due time…

That’s a lot to keep up with! What keeps you going?

Knowing that I am really going after my dreams, I am finally going for it instead of being afraid to try. Even if it ends in failure, I know that I am giving it my all, and I have no regrets! Also, I remind myself daily that working for myself is so much more rewarding than anything else I have done, even though I’m a tough boss!

What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?

The confidence I gain with each little success, and the lessons I learn from each failure of running my own business. Doing what I love, and feeling like I am finally contributing to the world has made me a much happier person. What I love most is inspiring others to go for their dreams too.

Tell me a bit about your personal style.

I’ve often been told I look like I’m “from another era.” I would say my personal style takes a vintage 40’s feel and mixes it with sleek modern elements. I love juxtaposition and duality in design, and it seems to carry through my personal style and overall personality.

I see a lot of architectural shapes in your designs. Where does that come from?

I absolutely adore art deco! Architecture, furniture, oh and the jewelry! A lot of people say that some of my designs are very ‘80s, but really I was inspired by the simple forms of art deco design. My pieces give off the ‘80s vibe because of the bright colors, and also much of ‘80s design was inspired by art deco, so I take it as a compliment.

I’ve always loved the clean lines and strong shapes of Art Deco. What else are you into?

I love music, dance, and performance. As a kid I was always singing, and I was on a competitive dance team all through high school. If I wasn’t going for my dream of being a successful jewelry designer, I’d be trying to make it as a performer. A couple years ago I was the lead singer for a cover band called Soul Surreal, and earlier this year I did a small production called Tails of a Bitter Waitress, so clearly I still find time to ham it up once in a while!

I love anything that is creative, I just have this undying need to create and express myself, regardless of the medium. That’s one of the best parts of working for myself, I get to do everything!

I can totally relate, I’m a huge ham! And creativity is essential to running a business, so what’s next for Jennifer Merchant Design?

Building my brand, and getting into more brick and mortar shops and galleries!

I am also continually trying to push the boundaries of what is considered ‘fine jewelry’ and I hope to start incorporating more metal work in with my acrylic and corian designs. Currently I work almost exclusively in alternative materials, but I was trained as a metalsmith, and I look forward to returning to my roots a bit, when I can afford it! The price of gold and silver sure has gone up!

Where do you see yourself and your business in a few years?

Currently I work out of my home, in the next few years I hope to expand into a proper studio space! My biggest goal is to get my work into Vogue Magazine–many of my pieces are made from past issues layered between sheets of acrylic. I also hope to be showing in more gallery type settings, as I feel much of my jewelry is more wearable art than just an accessory. And, in the next year or so you should be seeing my jewelry in stores nationwide, and *fingers crossed* in other countries as well!

With that kind of talent and work ethic? I have no doubt.

Find Jennifer Merchant Designs:

In shops

Design Collective, I Like You, and Parc Boutique (Minneapolis, MN)
Shop SCAD (Savannah, GA)

You can also connect with Jennifer on Twitter and Facebook.

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