Eliza (who more commonly goes by Sloane) was our digital friend before in-person friend. When circles kept overlapping (thanks Kes of Conscious Chatter), and we were planning to be in San Diego (Sloane's hometown), we knew we needed to make the in-person thing happen.
Sloane is an inspiration. She started her jewelry business Mermaid by Hand Jewelry several years ago and grew its success largely by utilizing social media. In the past couple years, Sloane's lifestyle has shifted as she seeks a combination of more grounding and more adventurous routines, thus bringing changes to her business. So is the life of a creative entrepreneur... always shifting. We caught up with Sloane to hear more about her inspirations, design process and hopes for the future.
1. How long have you been making jewelry?
I have been making jewelry for about 6 years now, although it wasn't until 4 years ago that I decided to go back to school for metalsmithing and quickly realized I could make a living doing what I love. Metalsmithing came very naturally for me, and my teacher would always joke that I was jumping too far ahead because I always wanted tackle more difficult projects than what was scheduled for the day. (I am a Capricorn ha!)
2. Who taught you to make jewelry?
I could write an entire book on how wonderful my very first metalsmith teacher, Deanna and her little dog, Pico Pico are. Deanna was really more of a mentor for me. She had an immense impact on my confidence in my own abilities and really helped me to hone in quickly on my own style. I am forever grateful for her knowledge and perspective. She spends a lot of time in Mexico, (where she adopted Pico Pico) and much of her inspiration comes from this beautiful country. If you know me well, you will know that I couldn't have found a better match of a metalsmith mentor. I spent some time living in Merida and traveling the Yucatan Peninsula, so our appreciation of Mexico is mutual.
3. What inspires you most?
I gather inspiration everywhere: nature, travel, literature - anything that heightens my sense of awareness and inspires my curiosity. When I am not creating, I can most likely be found in the ocean, in the yoga studio, on the road sleeping in my van, or just reading a book at home with a cup of coffee.
Mother Nature has always been my biggest inspiration and greatest teacher. I was born and raised by the sea and I find it hard to be away from her for too long. I took up shelling and treasure hunting for seaglass at a very early age, trying to find the most beautiful, rare colors, with stories of shipwrecks and messages in bottles attached to them. I was also quite the dribble castle architect! I have always been a seeker and a creator.
"I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars, I started listening to the teachings of my soul." -Rumi.
4. Do you have any other creative outlets you enjoy?
I believe as artists, life itself tends to become one big creative project. How you do one thing, is how you do all things. Creativity tends to spill over into every aspect of my life, and I make it a point to surround myself with people who do the same. Lately, I have been trying to really hone my skills in the water and get better at nose riding. I also enjoy interior decorating (which is my other dream job!)
"A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner - continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you - is a fine art, in and of itself." -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
5. What is one of your favorite places you've traveled + why?
This is a hard question for me, as I tend to fall in love with almost everywhere I go. Two best friends and I spent some time traveling Southeast Asia this past year. As far as natural beauty goes, Vietnam has my heart. The diversity of landscapes and scenery found in this long, breathtaking country are amazing. I rose with the sun amongst thousands of limestone islands, jutting out of from the emerald sea in Ha Long Bay and I spent rainy, foggy evenings overlooking the rice terraces with our homestay family in Sapa, conversing over (questionable) homemade wine. Trekking through the mountains and terraces with a local Hmong woman, having her share her life story with us and talking about how their traditional clothing is made was really special. Towards the end of my stay in Vietnam, we made our way down to the Mekong Delta and I fell in love with its lushness.
6. Where do you plan to travel next?
I plan to travel to India and Sri Lanka sometime this year. I really want to discover and explore Sri Lanka before it turns into the next hot spot...I hear both the culture (especially the food!) and the waves are amazing. I've been craving a silent meditation retreat for quite some time as well.
7. What do you find grounding?
Saltwater, crystals, plants, yoga, healthy food, books, and being around good people. Making connections. I am so grateful for the community I have here in San Diego. I have managed to create a lifestyle where I feel very grounded. Too much grounded-ness freaks me out though, and that is when I get the travel itch and just have to go!
8. How do you envision your jewelry brand growing in the future?
I have an overall vision and idea of where I want the business to go, although that is always changing and evolving. I am slowly rebranding and ditching the name Mermaid by Hand. Over the last year my designs have matured a lot, and I want the name to reflect that change. Everything I have been working on recently has felt incredibly authentic. I want to keep collaborating with people who share similar visions. Collaborating and seeing your work in a different light is so valuable. I am also in the beginning stages of working with an ethical manufacturer here in the US so I can grow the business more and have a little bit more free time.
9. What do you do when you're not making jewelry?
When I have a few days off from the workbench, I like to get out of town, drive up the coast to San Onofre to surf and camp. I also find myself in Topanga Canyon every few months. It has become my home away from home. I have gotten pretty good at finding hidden gems to stay in if I am not crashing in my van. It seems like everyone I meet in the canyon is doing something that sparks my interest. When traveling, I love checking out new yoga studios. I also enjoy cooking with friends and having dinner parties. There is something so special about sharing meals with others. Something else I have been interested in learning more about is tea ceremonies. I really enjoy rituals and anything which is driven by intention and being present.