Check out the full shop at: meganauman.bigcartel.com
BC: How did you get into jewelry making? How did it become a business for you?
MA: I actually discovered jewelry making while in high school. I wanted to be a painter, so I was part of an arts magnet program for high school seniors at the local community college. They did different workshops with us, and one of them was lost wax cast rings. I just remember thinking “You can go to college for this! Sign me up!”
I went on to get a BFA from Syracuse University in Metalsmithing and an MFA from Kent State in Metals & Jewelry. The whole time I was in school, I always wavered between becoming a college art professor and running my own business. My first year out of grad school I had a full time teaching position, and realized pretty quickly that while I love to teach, being a full time university professor wasn’t for me. I’ve been running my business ever since!
BC: What is it about jewelry that you are so passionate about?
MA: There are certain materials and process that I am just in love with. In college, we used to joke that I was the metalsmithing major who never worked in metal, I was always using these weird materials. But in grad school I started welding steel wire, and I was hooked. I love steel because it’s got a strength to it that so many other metals don’t have. It’s so durable and industrial, but it has the potential to be so beautiful. I recently started working a lot with bronze, and I love the combination of the bronze and the steel. They make such a beautiful contrast.
BC: Can you tell us how you develop and design a collection? What does a glimpse at your process look like?
MA: Most of the pieces in my line are about playing with the process of making chain. I love chain because it’s such a simple concept (it’s just link after link) but the variations are seemingly endless. So when I’m designing something new, I usually start by making lots and lots of links. I’ll vary the size and shape, or the type or thickness of metal, and then I’ll just play with all the variations. It’s amazing to me, because every time I think I’m done with my signature collection, I come up with another variation that I like even more.
BC: Do you love and obsess over jewelry? Or do you kind of keep it at arms length since it’s such a huge part of your life?
MA: I really do LOVE jewelry. Some of the most popular pieces in my line came about because I wanted to make something to wear for myself first. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry when I’m working in the studio, but I can’t leave the house without at least a few pieces. I also really love to look at other people’s jewelry. I’m a big museum girl, so it’s always fun to look at different collections when I travel. This year I went to Paris and London and saw some amazing pieces in the museums there. I also have so many friends that make incredible jewelry, and we’re always trading!
BC: What are some of the best moves you’ve made or tools you’ve used to help your business grow?
MA: One of the best moves I made for my business was deciding to wholesale and show at the New York International Gift Fair. It was a great way to grow the business, and I’ve met and connected with so many great people, not just stores. The same holds true for other shows and conferences. Connecting with people has been a big part of growing my business.
BC: How has your experience been using Big Cartel to power your online shop?
MA: I love using Big Cartel. I really like how customizable the site is. I was able to create a shop that seamlessly integrates with my website, and keep my branding consistent throughout. Having a Big Cartel shop has made my business look so much more professional.