Interviews

Here at Makers Market our mission is to Rebuild the Legacy of American Made, reconnecting consumers with the origin of their products and the people that make them is our number one priority. We think that when people know what the products they buy are made of, and who makes them and where, it not only transforms a “thing” into a treasure, it helps to support local economies and promote sustainable buying practices. Santana Row We opened our new location at Santana Row in April, and it has been a pretty wonderful experience ever since. Santana Row is a beautiful outdoor shopping destination full of hidden corners, delicious food, and well-groomed greenery. When Santana Row allowed us to start hosting “Makers Market in the Park” once a month, we were thrilled for the opportunity to connect consumers to makers on a personal level. Who better to inform a buyer about a product than the actual people that designed and crafted it with their own hands?? We held our first Makers Market in the Park on June 11th, where 22 local artisans sold their beautiful work, and chatted with customers as beautiful acoustic music courtesy of local musician Lucas Gordon drifted through the air. Inside our store, directly across the park, Scheid Vineyards provided complimentary wine tasting and Santana Row restaurants Straits, Sino and Roots+Rye provided appetizers for shoppers to snack on. This event was a true community effort and a reflection of the ideals of our store. Communities with a support system can create truly amazing things! Lucas Gordon June’s market featured a curated batch of products including art prints from Kristina Micotti Illustration, Jewelry from Corey Egan Metalsmithing, and wood items from Jo’s Woodturning. We are so excited to offer a regular venue in the South Bay where conscientious shoppers can connect with a curated batch of sustainable-minded artisans and makers!

Market Favorite!  Marja Germans Gard

The June “market favorite” was psychologist-turned-jeweler Marja Germans Gard and her two jewelry lines, Lemonade Handmade and namesake line Marja Germans Gard Studio. Read on to discover where the artist finds her inspiration, how she converted from academia, and why people love her jewelry so much! (Hint: she’s environmentally conscious and her lines have a striking simplicity that is really easy to wear day or night!)


What inspired you to start your own business?
Frankly, I never actually ever made a conscious choice to start my own business- I was pursuing something that I loved and kind of fell into the business aspect of things! The story starts after I completed my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.  I had revisited my childhood hobby of jewelry making while in my Ph.D. program as a stress release while working on my dissertation, but had never considered it as a career because I thought I was destined to be an academic.  After completing my degree, I was at a birthday party for my daughter’s schoolmate and saw a friend of mine with a lovely necklace.  I thought to myself- “I could make that!” and determined to give it a whirl.  Another friend at the event encouraged me to have a “jewelry party” at my house- so I did. I made as much jewelry as I could, invited everyone I knew, and sold almost everything. It was after that that I hatched the idea that I might be able to make a living doing this thing I had loved since childhood, and lemonade handmade jewelry (and later Marja Germans Gard Studio) evolved from there.

Marja headshot Apron in Studio
What is the inspiration behind your designs? The inspiration differs a bit between the two lines.  For lemonade handmade jewelry, I’m looking to design pieces that are delicate, but still maintain clean lines and a streamlined feel.  These pieces are meant to go with everything and be worn every single day- all the pieces match well with one another and there is something for everyone, from a modern, rectangular take on the silver hoop to the sweet stack of 14K gold fill rings. rose gold 3 three ring stack For Marja Germans Gard Studio, the inspiration is still modern design and clean lines, but taken in a bolder, geometric and more architectural direction. My goal with this line is to create an appealing tension in the pieces, whether by balancing edginess with femininity, mixing metals and techniques, or pairing rustic metals like bronze with fine accents like black diamonds. bronze bar rings with and without black diamonds What are your favorite materials to work with? I will always love sterling silver- I find it a delight to actually work with at the bench. I am also using bronze more and more- it’s a tougher metal to work with, but I just can’t seem to let it go.  My most recent passion is 14K gold- keep an eye out for more of that in upcoming designs. Auric horseshoe hoops oxidized silver and gold fill What do you like to do when you are not making/designing? I love to spend time with my two kids and my husband- especially discovering new places to hike (and to eat! I feel so lucky that they are adventurous eaters). I also love to take hip-hop class- I was in a dance company back in college and sweating it out to some Missy Elliot or Kelis is still the perfect stress release for me.

Where did you learn your craft? I’ve taken a number of classes at The Crucible and at Revere Academy in SF, but a lot of what I do is self-taught. marjastudio- B&W
What is your process when starting a new design? I typically get fixated with a motif of some kind- a linear intersection, or the way two shapes play off of each other.  I sketch for a while as a way to figure out what’s appealing to me about the motif, and then I start considering how it might be applied to jewelry- what would it look like as a pair of earrings, how could I incorporate it into a necklace? After I’ve been sketching for a while, it’s time to play at the bench and try different things out- sometimes I end up way far away from where I thought I was going! marjastudio-0711 square marjastudio--7
What do you appreciate about handmade goods? I love the little imperfections that are reminders that this object is the product of someone’s ideas and passion. It’s great to be able to see the mark of the artist on a piece and know that she or he hatched this notion out of thin air and made it something physical.  I love living in an area and in a time where handmade is so valued, and where makers (and retailers!) can form a community that inspires and encourages other makers. oxidized silver velos ear hugs 1oxidized silver rada ear hugs 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

If people could know one thing about you or your work, what would it be? That I love making it and I am so thrilled to share it with others. When someone finds a piece of mine that they just love- it’s incredibly rewarding- I’ve made them happy by making it and they have made me so happy by appreciating it.

marjastudio-0685
What is the inspiration behind your brand name? At the time that I first started lemonade handmade, I was obsessed with anything lemon and was cooking and baking with lemons all the time. It seemed only fitting that I would incorporate lemon in the name for my other obsession- making jewelry.  For the Marja Germans Gard Studio line, when I started it I wanted to distinguish it from lemonade handmade as much as possible, since the lines are so different for me.  A number of my friends and colleagues encouraged me to use my unusual name to mark this line as a reflection of me. marjastudio-0850
How long have you been making things? All. My. Life.  As a kid I took every art class that was thrown my way. I took stained glass, enameling, ceramics, pottery, weaving, knitting, drawing and painting- anything and everything.  As I got older, my creative energies focused more on dance, and I choreographed for performances for years. Ultimately I returned to jewelry as my creative outlet in graduate school, and the rest is history.

Thank you to Marja for the interview and lovely photos of her studio! You can check more of her work out at her website and you can also find it in our store at Santana Row- and online!

June 21

Maker SpotlightScott Lelikoff of Pedal Happy Designs makes beautiful and functional art for the leisurely adventurer. An Architecture graduate of Cal Poly, Scott turned his love of form and function into leatherwork, creating leather growlers and wine carriers with every strap and buckle placed just so in a way that makes you think “this is genius”. Every customer that sees a Pedal Happy Design in the store can’t help but turn it over in their hands and question whether they should start brewing their own beer just so they have a reason to buy the growler (Don’t worry craft breweries will fill it up for you- which saves you precious beer drinking time). Read on to learn more about Scott, running a small business, and why two wheels are better than four.

Running a Small Business

I’ve always had a desire to run my own business. This business was started with the original leather growler carrier.

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I was doing a bike tour from Seattle to San Diego and knew I’d be passing a lot of breweries along the way. I actually plotted out on the map all the breweries that were near our route so we knew each day if there was one near by. I wanted a way to carry a growler so that we could have it filled at local breweries from the nearby towns we were camping in each night. So I made the carrier in order to attach it to my bike without taking up precious pannier (a basket, for us non-bike experts) space. On the ride it got a lot of attention so when I returned I refined the design and put it up online and grew from there.

Finding Inspiration

I try and keep things simple, elegant and aesthetically pleasing while still maintaining function. When relating to bicycles I like the classic bicycle style and I think leather is a great material to go along with that style. The products themselves are meant to be fun and compliment your bike and make you feel good about riding so the design should reflect that and enhance that. There are many ways to carry a container of any sort on your bike, I try and do it in the nicest and most fun way possible.

 

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Love of Leather

As you can probably tell by my product line, I love to work with leather. Each piece I create is hand-cut, hand-dyed, hand-stitched, and hand-assembled by me. Each (handcrafted) piece has a different feel to it, almost a soul. I’d like to get into canvas as well since it’s a material that can be enhanced by leather.

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Two Wheel Obsession

I’ve recently gotten into motorcycles quite a bit both street and off road, I guess I’ve got a thing for two wheels. Riding motorcycles also helps clear my mind. Normally my mind is constantly thinking about design and the business but when you’re on a motorcycle you’ve got to be 100% attentive to that task so it does not allow my mind to stray. And I still ride bicycles a lot too.

Leather Wine Carrier

 

Becoming a Craftsman

I was in the mood to learn something new and passed by a leather shop with free classes. The classes turned out not to be what I was looking for, it was mostly carving and tooling but once in the shop it got the idea rolling. So I picked up some basic tools and started playing around. I’ve always been pretty good at working with my hands so it came pretty naturally. Once I had a design or product I wanted to make I’d just learn as I go either from trial/error, the Internet or talking to people at the leather store.

Growler

 

The Design Process

I can visualize the design entirely in my head. From there I’ll do some rough sketching, then move to physical prototypes. I like to start the very initial design completely without thinking about the process of making it. This allows the design to be the least restrictive, and then I’ll work out how it will be made. Sometimes you may have to draw back the design a bit but I always keep the initial vision in mind and work to achieve a final product that is in line with the original idea.

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Handmade Appreciation

I appreciate handmade goods for the time and care that goes into making them and the effort it took for someone to learn and perfect a craft. Not always but often handmade goods are made to last. When you put more time into the production of an item you have even more reason to build it to last. This is also what I like about leather; it is a very durable and long-lasting material, not only that, but it often gets better with time. In addition it is a material that can usually be repaired easily giving a product a new extended life.

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Keep Pedaling

When I came up with Pedal Happy Designs, I wanted to come up with something that spoke both to the bikes and beers/wines without going overboard with that portion, but I wanted to get across what I made these products for, to make the user feel happy and proud of their bike and have fun riding.

I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. I’ve been making Pedal Happy products since 2012. I really enjoy what I do and take great care to put forth the best work I can and I hope that shows through the design and quality of the products I put out.

Check out this video we made about Scott to see more of his studio and work in action!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuyAsHv9HK8&feature=youtu.be

by: Priscilla Spradlin

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