How did you get started in your chosen craft?
I was born and grew up in Russia, where we learn sewing, cooking and making things at school. I was always making my own accessories and clothes (there wasn’t much in shops in the USSR!). When I moved to Ireland 12 years ago, and couldn’t find a job to suit my qualification as a journalist, I decided to set up my own jewellery business. I started with very bold and chunky semi-precious stones showstoppers but last year I followed my passion for mixed media and designed my first recycled jewellery collection.
Most of the materials I use are recycled, reclaimed and repurposed. I trawl through thrift shops looking for old doilies, worn down shirts and tired bags. I turn them into necklaces, earrings brooches and use them to re-vamp handbags. Recently I came across a closing down upholstery workshop, where to my delight the owner was getting rid of everything. So I bought a pile of upholstery cords, which otherwise were destined for the trash bin. I use them for making lovely colourful summer textile bangles. Nothing is wasted in my craft: I use almost everything, even the tiniest of shreds are incorporated into my recycled funky brooches. At the moment I am trying to find eco-friendly solutions for packaging my jewellery.
Why did you join the EcoEtsy Team?
I had been keeping an eye on EcoEtsy for a while but it was closed for membership. The moment I saw an announcement inviting new members to join I jumped in. I think, it is a fantastic team where everyone believes into doing their bit for the planet. I learn a lot from the team blog and find the forum very helpful.
Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?
Everywhere. I was walking yesterday, for instance, and saw a magnificent chestnut tree in bloom. Came home and made a few brooches with dark green recycled raw dark green silk and ecru frothy vintage lace brooches. I am always staring at people, the way they combine colours and textures. When I travel I love going to designer vintage and antique shops and absorb as much as I can. Amsterdam antique markets and French brocante are magnificent for inspiration.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on my autumn-winter collection as I am going to show it in Paris in September. It will be my first big professional trade fair as I am trying to build up my exports. What steps have you taken to lead a green life style? As I have mentioned above I believe in doing my bit for the planet. I thrift shop, recycle, use natural cleaning products, buy local organic produce most of the time, unplug everything for the night and switch the lights off when I leave a room. And nag everyone around about doing the same!
Is your art/craft your full time job? If not what do you do to pay the bills?
Before the recession came upon us I was making and selling my semi-precious stones jewellery full time doing some temporary office jobs here and there. I was only selling in Ireland and did quite well. But, as I can see it now, it was a little short-sighted. With the crisis my sales went down and now I am giving piano lessons to beginners part-time to pay my bills and sell my recycled jewellery and handbags at a local designers’ market.
I spend a lot of time learning about online marketing and social media as that is where I see my business in the near future. I hope that selling online and for retailers abroad will give me the freedom to choose where I live. I am thinking of moving somewhere warm and sunny for fresh inspirations. I am also studying for a degree in nutritional therapy and volunteer teaching evening classes on low budget healthy cooking for a charity in Dublin.