Monday, May 4, 2020

Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you create?

 I'm Jemica, the owner, designer and maker behind Meekz Contemporary Jewellery.  I'm a qualified silversmith having graduated from Griffith University in 2009 and I love architecture and sculptural art.  I have a real passion for geometric design and love making wearable art, that transforms the everyday into something unique and beautiful.  

What makes what you do that bit different to the other people in your creative field?

My business is a sustainable, ethical and handmade jewellery label.  I draw inspiration from the urban environment and minimalist geometric forms around me.   

Using traditional silversmithing techniques such as hand sawing, soldering, hammer texturing and oxidising, I bring to life my sketched drawings to create statement jewellery that can be worn every day.    

Adopting an ethically responsible and environmentally friendly practice, all Meekz collections are made using recycled, reclaimed and repurposed materials such road signs, recycled sterling silver, electrical wire, recycled aluminium, copper and brass, transforming the everyday into something unique and beautiful.  

By designing my own custom packaging from recycled card boards and card stocks and hand sewing all my own jewellery pouches from discarded industrial felt sourced from local recycling centres, I believe I can further contribute to a sustainable foot print.

I even use discarded timber, wooden blocks and tree branches to create all my unique jewellery displays and market stands.

In my studio I use a combination of recyclable and biodegradable materials and chemicals, adopting a cradle-to-cradle mentality to create all my exhibition and retail production work.

How long since you started on this creative journey?

This July will be my 15th year in business.  I started Meekz Contemporary Jewellery while I was studying at University in 2005.   My lecturer suggested I seek some feedback on my designs and so a group of students and I created a
small business called the JSO Collective and approached the South Bank Markets to see if we could have a stall at the Young Designers Markets and they said yes!  

Once graduating university in 2009, I left the Collective and went on to work full time in my own studio that I created with the help of my parents on their property, transforming an old horse stable into a functioning jewellery space.  

In 2015 some friends of mine asked me to show them how to make jewellery and I guess I fell in love with teaching.  I still teach to this day and have created classes for all skill levels. My workshops offer an insight into the life of a jeweller. From private one on one sessions to group classes, each workshop aims to encourage creativity, confidence and learning while having fun.

Were you creative as a child/do you come from a creative family?

I have always been creative and as a child my mum taught me lots of different things from cooking to cross stitching to painting.  I even used to help her make dolls clothes for her business and helped out at markets selling them (I think that’s where I got the bug for my business you could say).

 What's the story behind your business/shop name (if applicable)?

My business name came from a nickname I gave myself at high school – Meeka, as no one could say my name Jemica.  And when I applied for a trading name Meeka was knocked back so I changed it to Meekz and added a description so no one else would have the same name!

And so Meekz Contemporary Jewellery was born.

Do you do this as a hobby or as a small business?

I  work full time in my small business and love every minute of it!

     How have you found your work has evolved since you started?

My designs have definitely changed over the years.  My first designs out of University incorporated everything from recycled/repurposed/found fabrics to plastics to papers and of course metal.   Over time I noticed I was becoming more a textile artist and wanted to find myself again so ditched everything that wasn’t metal and focused on silversmithing again (what I was trained in) and fell back in love with my art. 

Technological advances over the 15 years have also played a big part in my redirection as well I think.  The introduction of Laser Cutting was a big one for me.   The value, perception, price and accessibility of machine cut acrylic saw my jewellery sales drop over night and I could no longer compete with this, so I dropped the line.

How did you start selling your work? Do you sell online or at markets/shops?

I  started selling at the Young Designers Market as a member of the JSO Collective small business we started while at University in 2005.   I then opened up an Etsy shop to test my products online and finally opened up my own  website  to have full control of design, style and create my own templates. 

I currently have 25 Stockist throughout Australia that are small handmade/sustainable or boutique style shops that I wholesale my designs to. 

My favourite of all platforms to sell would have to be at Markets or Events though as I get to meet my customers face to face and see them light up when they spot something they love.  They are the reason I love what I do. 

My jewellery workshops are also a form of work I sell as well as the tools we use in class.  I get so much joy from seeing a student light up with confidence once they have made something from scratch. 

How do you find your inspiration? 

I  find inspiration from my surroundings, from nature, urban environment and my friends and family.

Describe your studio/workspace?

My studio is small but I love it.  

I  have converted the garage in my house into a studio space.

I have an old office desk that my grandfather converted into a jewellers bench, I have another row of jewellery benches for my students, a bench with a table mounted drill press, a metal guillotine/bender/roller machine and soldering station and a open shelving system with all my finished stock, market displays, market tools, marquee, tables, battery and lights and workshop tools, materials and displays.  

I also now have an office/clean studio which I’ve never had before so that’s cool.  Here I do all my invoicing, accounting, packaging of finished jewellery and store all my packaging, boxes and felt for my pouches.

Describe a typical creative day? How do you balance your creativity with your everyday life/work?

A typical day …well I try to start or end the day with some sort of exercise, I then have breakfast, then head into the studio – create a list with the days tasks and get to work making.  I then have lunch and then head back to work to finish off what I can for the day.  I then either exercise if I haven’t already with a friend if possible and then make dinner and then veg out to some Netflix or a movie, have a shower and then head to bed.   Some nights I may even sit and make jewellery while watching TV.  It's usually a late one for me as I am a night owl.    

How do I juggle everyday life/work… well I plan my life around a Diary. Everything gets entered into the calendar or it doesn’t happen.  Like if I have a meeting tomorrow or want to catch up with a friend next Tuesday or I’m having dinner with my parents in a month, it all goes into my diary or I would forget everything!    

My diary is LIFE, without it I wouldn’t have a business or social life lol.

Do you listen to music/tv/podcasts etc while creating?

I  listen to the radio.  Can’t watch Tv as I start watching it instead and podcasts I haven’t tried yet.

Do you have any advice for someone starting out in the creative world? Any tips that might help them?

Love what you do!  Find your niche, something no one else has and make it yours.  Your customers will love you for it and will keep coming back to you as they can only get it from you.   

Believe in yourself!  You can do this, you are strong, you know your stuff and you are talented or you wouldn’t be starting this.

Schedule in Lunch Break /Time with friends and family and take Holidays! Do this, its so easy to over look all of this and your mental state is worth more than money! 

Do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process?  If yes, how is your art/craft eco-friendly?

Yep it is my core value!  I use sustainable materials / methods and chemicals throughout my practise.

Do you have a favourite item to make?

At the moment I would have to say it's my Rain Bow Earrings and Necklaces.  They just have that extra little wibble wobble and I love the combination of movement, mixed metal and mixed textures.

Do you have a favourite quote?

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."
-Albert Einstein, What Life Means to Einstein (1924)  

fell in love with this quote in my teenage years and have lived every day by it.  I even have a tattoo on my back that says “Imagination is Knowledge”.

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?

In 12 months… designing even better jewellery designs, having hopefully a larger studio space, one that I can teach bigger classes in and that I can paint/ decorate and make my own!

Where can we find you online/stockists (links etc)?

Check out my website  

Whereabouts did you find out about BrisStyle?

It was one of the first markets I attended back in the day to sell my jewellery at.   It was so long ago now that I can’t remember where I heard about it from sorry.

How long ago did you become a member and what made you decide to join?

I  joined while I was in Uni so between 2005 – 2009 again not sure on actual date sorry.

What do you think the Covid-19 situation has changed in your creative practice?

Covid-19 has definitely made it hard for my business.  I can no longer attend markets or events to sell my jewellery, teach classes or speak at PD Talks. 

I  however have been able to continue selling online.  Definitely nowhere near as much as I use to make at events, markets or workshops, but it’s something while I wait for Centrelink … my fingers are crossed.

Before COVID-19 I had wanted to start holding monthly Ready To Ship Restocks on my website and treat the stock on hand as though it was a wholesaler and set it aside for when it sells.  I had in the past run my website in a Make to Order format and didn’t get as many sales.

Now with everything going on I suddenly have way more time on my hands and so held my first Ready To Ship Restock in April and was blown away by my customers.  Not only did I sell lots of pieces (which I was so sure I wouldn’t as it had never worked before) but that I sold OUT of items and had customers contacting me personally asking if they could order more.

I’m not sure if this was a fluke but I’m going to continue and have another restock planned for next Friday 1st May at 8pm QLD time so wish me luck.
Xxx Meekz