I first came across Melanie’s designs while browsing through one of my favourite Vancouver gift stores, The Cross. Melanie is known world-wide for her delicate and feminine designs and her flagship store in Vancouver is a delight for those who love beautiful objects and interiors. Showcasing her own designs with curated items such as hand-poured candles and decorative items from Italy, her shop expresses a “polished elegance” rarely found in local retail.
Describe your home?
Our home is a beautiful brick townhome on a lovely tree lined street in Vancouver. My family and I have lived here for the last 6 years and it has been my favorite home to date (and thanks to my husband’s previous career there have been many). It has high ceilings, is close to the most amazing forest trails and has a charming little patio that our kitchen opens onto, in the summer we live on that patio. We have been renting so we haven’t made any cosmetic changes but we did just recently purchase a 115 year old home two blocks away and are starting a huge renovation project in the new year. It has been my dream to renovate a home for our family and it’s finally happening, to say I am thrilled is an understatement.
Your personal style aesthetic?
I always have a difficult time answering this question. As an artistic and very visual person I really love for my home to be light, airy, neutral, and clean. It is what puts my mind most at ease and allows me to take a breath and create. That being said, it also needs to be very textured and focused on materiality, attention to detail means everything to me, how a place makes you feel when you walk in is so important. I don’t want to fill my home with furniture or objects that hold no meaning so I like to layer pieces over time that have a story, were bought on a trip, or were created by a maker who truly has passion for what they do. We still own pieces from big box stores, it’s more cost effective and honestly just easier sometimes, but I try to limit that as much as I can. I want my home to have soul and be comfortable for family and friends, that’s most important to me.
Favourite colour combination?
Cream and Cream, haha, but if you made me pick an actual colour combo I would say Turquoise and Coral Red, something about those colours together just remind me of summer.
Lays Dill Pickle Chips.
Family, Travel and our new home reno
Your favorite meal to cook for company?
Anything Italian. My husband is the real cook in our family but if there is one thing I can cook it’s a good hearty pasta dish.
An Interesting Hostess Gift?
Lots of our friends are very well versed in wine and know so much more then I do about it, so I don’t even try to bring it to dinner. Instead I am very aware whenever we travel about bringing things back that we can gift when invited over. For instance, we travelled to Portugal with family and brought back some amazing local Olive Oil, so we would gift that when invited over. We also carry these amazing Cypress + Bayberry candles at our Vancouver boutique that I sourced when we were in Mexico, they make great gifts. I think personal items so that your friends know that an effort was made is what means the most.
Who inspires you?
Women who can be open and vulnerable are most inspiring to me. I think in my early years I saw vulnerabilities as weakness and shut off that part of me, but I have grown to see that being vulnerable and open are strengths. It’s what builds trust and meaningful relationships so watching and learning from women who are comfortable in their truth and speak on it are most inspiring.
What does a typical day look like?
Well, it should start at 6am but I put great value on sleep so it’s usually more like 7:15am. My husband on the other hand is up at 6am making the kids breakfast and lunch for school, they must be there for 8:20am so it’s generally a rush in the mornings. I am usually on my phone answering emails right away as most of the people we work with are either in Italy or on the east coast so loads of emails come in overnight. Every work day looks a little different, COVID has made our work from home capabilities pretty great. Most of our team can function both in studio or from home now which enables us to be very flexible, the only staff that absolutely need to be in studio are the fulfillment team as we ship all orders out of our Vancouver studio. They have been the heart and soul of our team since COVID hit and enable us to keep moving forward. Kids need to be picked up at 3pm everyday and either my husband or I are always there to do that, however it’s usually him, and then the other keeps working until dinner time, whether that is from home or at the studio. Most nights we try to put work away but owning our own company, we work more at home then we should. We always eat together as a family before someone rushes off to take a child to an activity. Bedtime for us is usually around 10:30pm and then we wake up and do it all over again.
Most memorable holiday?
For my father’s 70th birthday we went to Italy with my parents and my brother and his wife. We visited Pordenone, which is in Northern Italy where my great grandparents were born and then travelled down the coast to Puglia where we rented a Trulli in a beautiful olive grove. It was a magical trip, we would wake up and go exploring in the morning, have lunch in whatever little town we ended up in and then hit the market on our way home to get ingredients for dinner that night before heading back to the trulli in the late afternoon for a swim and a wine spritz. We did the same for my Mom’s 70th but this time our destination was Portugal and my nephew had been born so we had a sweet little addition. Holiday’s with family are most memorable for me because we don’t live in the same city and it allows us to get away and spend quality time together while exploring a new place.
Where do you want to travel when world borders open up again?
I would love to see Australia, they have some amazing designers and there is so much natural beauty to explore. My kids are also very into going to Africa so that is also on our list of must visit places when the world can travel again.
Your store is a beautiful colour! As an architectural colour designer, I fell in love when I walked into your flagship store in Vancouver. How did you decide on the design and colour for your space? And, would you share the colour that you used?
We worked with Kelly Deck who is a local interior designer here in Vancouver. She did an amazing job translating our brand into a physical space. The green we used throughout the boutique is one of our two main brand pantone colours so it was natural that we would incorporate that into the boutique as well. I would have to check with her on the exact paint colour that we ended up going with as they tried to match as closely as possible to our packaging. Our goal was to make the boutique feel like an oasis in the city, so that our customers could come in and feel like they were getting away from it all, a mix of a beautiful boutique hotel you would find in Southern Italy and a luxe store.
When did you first become interested in jewelry design?
I took fashion merchandising in college and it wasn’t until after I graduated that jewelry peaked my interest. I worked with a woman who designed her own line and I became interested through her, when I moved to Vancouver I took some metalsmithing courses and the rest is history.
Are you a self-taught designer?
I would say yes. Other then learning some technical aspects of metalsmithing through classes most of my designing has been self taught, and honestly now that it’s been 10 years since I was personally handmaking pieces I think I would need a refresher course on metalsmithing as well! I truly believe that people are born with an eye for design. Of course certain aspects can be learned and practiced but most times it comes naturally or it doesn’t.
What your process for design and what inspires your work?
I don’t have any one process other then finding moments when I am at peace. When my mind is calm but inspired is when I create my favorite work. Usually that is on vacation when all the day to day stuff doesn’t weigh me down, but I have found that quiet Sunday mornings work equally as well. I find inspiration from life, travel, art, interiors, sometimes even current events can inspire pieces or a collection.
How do you source your manufactures?
Some of our manufacturers have come to us through word of mouth over the years but we have also sourced others through jewelry/gem tradeshows. All have a story behind them and we love to support our craftspeople for various reasons. We work with a factory in China that is owned and operated by women which is very rare and their stone cutting and precision is the best in the world. We also work with a lot of Italian makers because they are the best and most innovative when it comes to chains. Being in their factories and working side by side to create our products is so rewarding, and you can truly see the hard work and detail that goes into every handmade piece.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you love to try your hand at?
I would love to try my hand at interior design. There is something about the way a space makes you feel that is just so transformative. Or opening a boutique hotel and cultivating experiences for our guests, that would also be at the top of my list.
Three tips for someone who would like dip their toe into jewelry design?
Just start! There are so many options for learning a trade these days, whether formally, or teaching yourself via different tutorials. It’s also never been easier to start a business, that’s not to say it won’t be hard, but you have social media and sites like Shopify at your disposal. You can start small by learning how to wire wrap beads etc and then move on from there.
Three hidden gems in Vancouver?
Well I am not sure if they are hidden but here it goes: Turf for great healthy food and a good workout. Their There for the best pastry’s and coffee (Hundy in the evening for Burgers) and Bao Bei for the best food ever! I realize now that you didn’t specify food but I guess we now know what I spend my time thinking about 😉
You can find Melanie here.