Today, in the Spotlight: Dawn Levesque, the talented artisan behind Modern Vintage Studio! She loves vintage and discovering discarded treasures, especially vintage components.
As a child, she was not only surrounded by vintage and antique finds, but also arts and crafts. Her family had a studio so that they could create everything from jewelry to paintings.
Nothing has changed since then. Dawn passed her creativity down to her young daughter who began selling her jewelry at age 10. Eventually, Dawn found herself sitting right beside her daughter making her own jewelry pieces.
As an author, writer and jewelry designer, Dawn Levesque repurposes vintage and antique components into one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. Earlier eras determine her materials, but modern nuances infuse her pieces.
What’s the story behind your company?
I have been creative in some capacity since I was young. Two years ago, I was helping my daughter with jewelry techniques and designs so that she could sell at craft shows. Since I love vintage, I found myself piecing together reclaimed vintage finds. Soon after, I was selling my own upcycled jewelry designs beside her. I knew it was time to merge my creative outlets – writing, photography and art — into one passion, and I launched Modern Vintage Studio. I created my business with the aim of leaving as small a footprint on the planet as possible – one-of-kind pieces using reclaimed vintage and antique components, eco-friendly website and business cards, even packaging.
What inspires you?
For me, inspiration comes from a fusion of life travels, architecture and eras such as Art Deco, Victorian and Mod. The salvaged pieces themselves also inspire me because each has a story behind it. Vintage costume pieces and mixed media materials inspire my designs.
What is your favorite product to make?
I love to create pendants most of all. I enjoy sketching out the idea and rearranging components until I discover what I believe is the perfect combinations of vintage for a harmonious design.
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Vintage finds recreated.
In your opinion, what’s the best part of being an entrepreneur?
I love the fact that I can share my passion from idea to finished product with the customer. I set my own hours, control my own destiny, and determine the direction of my business. Moreover, since I depend solely on myself, when I succeed, there is a greater sense of accomplishment.
If you were to start all over again, what would you do differently?
When I decided to launch my jewelry business, I jumped right in with both feet. If I were to start over, I would formulate a more effective business plan, narrow my scope and further develop my vision before going public.
Any advice for other crafters who are just starting?
Take time to discover what type of artisan or crafter you are. Before starting your business, do research on your craft and the business of your craft. Develop a comprehensive business plan, allocate start-up costs and take small business classes. Most importantly, brand yourself.
What’s next? Any plans for the future?
My jewelry will include more intricate designs and metalwork. I plan to sell my jewelry in local San Diego boutiques. My ultimate goal is to work with bigger retailers and really get my brand into the brick and mortar market.
Read about all the talented artisans featured in our 2012 Gloden Globes Artisan Series!
Sahetah’s Jewelry was created by Melissa Arnold who also balances her time as a live-in caregiver for her grandfather. An artist at heart, Melissa always wanted to create beautiful things with her hands since childhood. Melissa taught herself to design Jewelry one year ago, and now sells in stores in Toronto, Trade shows and became a member of The Artisan Group. Through the Artisan Group she has had the wonderful opportunity to gift Zooey Deschanel with hand dyed Lucite flower earring and necklace set.
Sahetah’s Jewelry is very excited to gift the celebrity Nominees and Presenters of the Golden Globes for the very first time in January 2012. The Artisan Group swag bags that are gifted to the Celebrities and Presenters at the event will receive Sahetah’s Jewelry’s hand dyed Lucite flower earrings.
The designer, Melissa Arnold, was very eager to share her Feminine Steampunk creations for this special event. She designed a custom piece for the Golden Globes Gift Lounge hosted by GBK Productions called the Victoria Necklace to be on display along with many talented Artisans of The Artisan Group.
Only 15 of the Victoria Necklaces will ever be made by Sahetah’s Jewelry, and they come with a certificate of authenticity signed by the designer.
Today’s interview is with Melissa Arnold; she is the creative artisan behind Sahetah’s Jewelry.
1. Why and when did you start your Jewelry Store?
I have been taking care of my grandfather full time as a live-in caregiver for the past three years since I was 21. Because of his need to have someone nearby on a daily basis, I knew I had to find a way to plan for a future that enabled me to still take care of him long term. Hopefully long term would mean another happy ten years.
Growing up, I was always an avid art student – I loved drawing, and creating. My brain was in the zone of creating, whether I was exploring sculptures, pottery, painting, writing stories, poetry and even floral arranging – I had to express my creativity. A year ago, it hit me that I could be putting my artistic nature to use and possibly make it a career and still stay at my grandfather’s side.
One avenue I never explored was designing Jewelry, and I was always fascinated by the idea. With three weeks to think over this new and exciting idea during my first vacation to Nova Scotia, I came back home to Ontario ready to get started – and Sahetah’s Jewelry was born.
2. What is your favorite type of product to make?
I love making all of my products, but I find the OOAK Feminine Steampunk necklaces are my favorite to make. I love working with pocket watches, but instead of simply hanging them on a chain, I wanted to create something that was geared towards women, regardless if she was a ‘Steampunk Junky’ or a sophisticated lady with class. I wanted to make a necklace from the Steampunk genre that I love, and turn it into more classical and ornate OOAK pieces. Each necklace is a journey to create, and I never know what the design will look like until the end. Some artists draw out ideas before beginning their design. I however skip the drawing board and dive into it headlong, and so it’s like an adventure to create each piece.
3. What inspires you?
My great grandmother was one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever known. Both her cottage and her home was always a wonder to behold with many antique and well kept ornate paintings and ornaments. Stepping into their home was like stepping into a time capsule- a home fit for a princess. So it wasn’t surprising to find that I was in love with vintage style jewelry and pieces that reflect our history as it reminds me of two wonderful people in my life. If only H.J Wells’ Time Machine was real, I would go back in time to show both my great grandparents how I’ve grown up and how they’ve inspired me.
4. How would you describe your products in three words?
If I were to describe my Jewelry in three words, I think it would be “sophisticated, classy and elegant”
5. When it comes to your business, what has been your biggest accomplishment?
I think my biggest accomplishment was being accepted into The Artisan Group. I felt so honored and shocked to be among such great and wonderful people. I’ve never been part of something so big and so wonderful. It was a mere chance that I came across this amazing group, and without them I don’t think I would be where I am now. I look up to each member as role models, and it is these wonderful people that help me wake up each morning with the drive to get working and tell myself “I can do this!”.
6. What’s next? Any plans?
My imagination is always taking me places. I never like designing the same piece twice, so I’m always thinking about “what can I do next?”. I would love to explore Art Nouveau designs, incorporate feathers into my pieces and eventually a bit of Gothic fashion. I love to work with my hands, and I love exploring new ideas, so I never really know what I will be doing a few months from now.
7. Where can we find you?
I am honored to say that my Feminine Steampunk designs and my hand dyed Lucite earrings can be found at Made You Look in Toronto. If you can’t visit their store you can always find me and my work online at www.SahetahsJewelry.com or you can Like me on facebook at Sahetah’s Jewelry and keep updated on events, sales and new products.
All pictures are courtesy of Melissa Arnold.