During the Metal Earth Giveaway I promised a visit to Meghan and Rebecca to hear their story. Here we go...
As I stroll towards Meghan and Rebecca's wooden studio above the hot-tub, the sun blasting through the bamboo, I hear an explosion of laughter. I see a few dance steps and that unmistakable Tinkerbell sound of their jewelry. In the middle of the tools and the gold and silver is a chicken salad Meghan has whipped up from her latest organic box delivery. Hang on...this is work?
|Meghan and Rebecca
1. Why did you start Metal Earth?
Rebecca: I've always been interested in ancient jewelery and four years ago I took courses at CCA and Studio One ....It's about remembering who I was before the kids. (They each put in around $10,000 at the beginning of the year and are currently breaking even.)
Meghan: Creating jewelry with Rebecca has evolved naturally, finding a place in my life alongside my other artistic passions. Wearing it makes you feel beautiful and strong and we wanted to share that with other women.
2. What has been the easiest thing about the business - and the hardest?
Rebecca: The jewelry sells itself. We get stopped in the street all the time - I had one woman who wanted the "whole look" and bought $8,000 worth. We walk into SF Moma and stores and the managers ask how they can buy it.
Meghan: I was just in Outer Banks in North Carolina and sold most of my personal collection to my friends there. The challenge has been how to get help. We spent hours compiling a detailed manual on how to make every piece to train another artist. But his pieces looked too similar, too shiny. Maybe no one else will notice that all those tabs were the same but we did. It has to be and look hand-forged, hand-rubbed and hand-hammered. It always comes back to doing it ourselves, but we don't want to become little elves just doing the same thing over and over.
3. How do you spend so much time together?
Rebecca: We're very similar people (from very large families, high-powered fathers and with an artsy bohemian aesthetic). I can be a bit sprinkling the fairy dust, maybe a bit scattered and floaty. Meghan hones its all down to practicalities; can we get 40 pieces together in this time? how should the photo of this necklace look?
4. How do you balance family life and growing the business?
Rebecca: Ha! That's what we're trying to work out. My husband Phil (Brewer and Chief of Operations at Anchor Brewing Company) said to me the other night: 'You used to make things in the oven.' My daughter (Emma, 14) joked: "Mom, you cleaned out the fridge on Sunday. It's now Wednesday - are you gonna buy some food to put in our nice clean fridge?" But this is unusual, we're getting ready for our first big retail show. Sometimes it's overwhelming: there's nothing for dinner, I haven't taken the dog for a walk, I've been driving, driving the kids to sports all afternoon, then I come over here and I feel centred and grounded.
Meghan: You have to ask yourself; how many of my kid's baseball games am I willing to miss? None? Then maybe we can't be really huge. I don't ever want to feel strangled by the business and we don't want to borrow money. And our kids still need us, they can float in and float out, we're here. Our advice to anyone is: don't try and fit in with a specific mold or business model, do what feels right. And of course we always make sure we get to our dances classes.
|Maya, 12, helping out
Rebecca: We would like to be in SF Moma and a few boutiques. Eventually I would love to see us in Paris and in Barneys, and showing in exhibitions with other artists. Our next step artistically is to make even more primitive-looking jewelery, using 18 and 22 carat un-mined diamonds and leather and black and oxidised silver. My friend sees a psychic who said our next line will be inspired by Peru.
Meghan: We have realised you can't make money in retail (unless you sell tons) so I see the bulk of our sales from direct sales and trunk shows. We hope to be selling around 100 pieces a month and be here in the studio making jewelry two full days a week.
6. Which public personas embody your look?
A mix of Frida Kahlo, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Aphrodite and maybe a little fairy dust from Tinkerbell.
As I leave, Rebecca tells me what makes it all worth it. Her hairdresser said: "I can't stop looking in the mirror watching my bracelet." Another friend told her: "You should call them them 'love chains.' My husband just loves the sound of them and -" Say no more.