A follower on Instagram asked me “how did you get into this career?” two months ago. And today I will tell you how I became a full time jewelry maker and small business owner.
This career of mine is a random set of coincidences and later on a bit of intention. It’s a long story and personal story. I’ll start at the beginning.
In august 2010 me, my boyfriend and our cat moved from Norway to Copenhagen. I had previously been studying Political science but didn’t feel ready or compelled to continue at the time. I worked at a cafè, voluntereed at a music venue and didn’t really know anyone. I have previously had a few bouts with depression and I think all the new and unknown things and feeling so alone led me into a new one. It was quite dark there for a while and I knew I needed professional help. I called my doctor, said I was depressed and needed help.
Later that week I was strolling in the city center and walked into a hobby shop. I bought some embroidery thread and leather scraps. Later that evening I had made my first necklace. It sounds strange, and it also feels strange in retrospect, but I had not intentionally planned to buy those things or make jewelry. But I did. And I made tons of jewelry over the next weeks. In the evenings at home after returning from that cafè job that paid my bills but I truly dreaded.
Remember that ‘busy hands, busy mind’ “mantra” of mine I’ve talked a bit about on IG the past month? That’s where that comes from. Working with my hands quieted my mind and helped me deal with the depression in my own way. I called the doctor and cancelled the appointment I had scheduled.
People I met asked where I had bought my jewelry and in December 2010 I decided to open a web shop. For several years I had loved buying handmade and vintage on Etsy so it was the only option I knew of in terms of opening a web shop. This is where the story of where the name StillWithYou came to be, which is a good one and I’ll share about in a later post.
I opened up the Etsy shop and my boyfriend helped me take photos while I modelled the jewelry and tried to write product descriptions and tags. Over the following weeks nothing happened. So I tweaked. Tweaked the photos, tweaked the text.
Then on April 21th 2011 an order came in. It’s was from a woman in San Fransisco and she had ordered my biggest (both in labour and price point) necklace. I was so happy I cried. I called my mum to tell her and she was so happy she cried too. I still remember the feeling of sheer excitement and also being terrified to disappoint her, when I dropped that very first parcel off at my local post office.
And from there on, the orders started ticking in. In the month of August 2011 I sold 51 pieces of jewelry so it got real busy in my home studio which basically just was a table set up in our living room chock full of supplies, crystals, feathers, chains and jewelry boxes filled to the brim. I worked every night until way past bedtime to make and ship the orders. It was so much fun! For those of you that have been there, you recall the excitement, thrill and how addictive it is.
Back then I worked with raw crystals, feather, leather and metals like silver and gold plated brass. Never fine materials. The jewelry was handmade but it was more assembling not truly handcrafted in my view. Now I wanted to learn how to craft the jewelry, from start till finish.
In February 2012 I started a basic silversmith course here in Copenhagen. It was 10 full days. Beforehand I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to learn how to make. Luck had it that it was only me and one more attending the course so it was basically private tutoring which was amazing. I learned to make basic rings, claw stone setting and make custom bezel settings for raw crystals.
The very first rings I made, February 2012.
By July 2012 I had outgrown my home studio and got my first proper studio at an old and worn industrial shipyard building on Refshaleøen. My teachers knew my plans to shift into making silver jewelry and he put me in contact with someone I could purchase tools from. This person was so helpful in terms of choosing the right tools, which to ditch, which to invest in and which to simply go with the cheapest option. Basically a very pragmatic approach and that’s just to my taste!
In January 2013 my studio on Refshaleøen was rebuilt and ready. And boy, was I scared to burn the place down the first time I sat down at my newly assorted workbench in my cold little industrial space with a hand torch that can heat up to 1300 degrees. The building still stands, but that year was one steep learning curve for sure. The following year I simply just trained and learned. Made a ton of trials and errors. Got to know the tools, materials and techniques. Slowly becoming more confident and skilled.
Me and Stella at my workbench on Refshaleøen.
After 14 months of intense training I launched my first silver collection. In April 2014 my new web shop (this one right here) and new silver collection was ready. And since September 2014, SWY STUDIO has been my full time job.
So that’s the story of how I got into this career.
My lapdog and I at my studio on Refshaleøen in 2017.
Busy hands, busy mind.
Me earlier today, at my new shared space on Islands brygge.
In June with my newest partner in crime.