Jewellery design? Here’s how with Marlous!
My second round for the interview and today I have a talented jewellery designer for you: Marlous van der Toorn will tell us all about her experience. I have already had my own experience in this sector designing some jewellery for my uncle’s business lots of years ago. This is why this interview is especially important for me to show you how the reality looks like.
- How long have you been working as a Jewellery Designer
On the 28th of April 2014 I flew back from Bali – 2 days later I registered at the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands. So it has been 3 years.
- How did you end up working as a Jewellery Designer?
In 2013 I quit my job in fashion and made a trip to Bali, a six-month journey. The first three weeks I joined a jewelry making workshop where the locals taught me the ins and outs of jewelry making. After the course the first 12 pieces of the collection were a fact. The logo was designed on the beach with friends.
- What is your current work?
I design jewelry. These are handmade out of pure metals, brass and sterling 925 silver. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and has been used for centuries as a semi-precious alternative togold. The MvdT Collection was created with antiquity in mind and intended to age over time. But I run the business from A to Z. That means creatively, financially, sales, social media, packing ect.
- What would you like to learn?
I would love to learn even more about jewelry making. Besides that I would love to have all good sourcing points in each field, so I can make or produce anything that comes to my mind. I have so many ideas but lack of time to scout the right sources makes it difficult to produce them.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
No idea yet. So many things can happen. I would love to live abroad in country with a warm climate. I haven’t found my place yet.
- What is your educational background?
Something totally different. Hotel management and Communication Creative. After this I designed my own clothing line, people were very enthusiastic, but for me the question was how do I get this of the ground with no experience in this field. So I started to work in the fashion business to learn all about it.
- Where can we see your works?
- What do you love most about your job?
Creating my own designs and the opportunity to share these makes me feel very privileged. Besides that the traveling and the freedom makes me very happy.
- What skills do you need to become a jewellery designer?
Of course being creative, but also to be a kind of all-rounder. Besides that the willingness to learn and never giving up.
- What has been so far your worst/hardest day?
The hardest days are when your energy level is low or not feeling motivated to go for it again. I am quite blessed that I didn’t have really dramatic failures. I should perhaps take bigger risks. They say you learn a lot from your failures. Of course I did have some failures, but I like to concentrate on the positive things in the business. If something is not flowing, it is not the right path for me.
- What has been so far your best day?
Participating in Amsterdam Fashion week in the show of Franzel Amsterdam was cool and a great experience. My Jewels were presented on all the male and female models. And I have good days when my customers are happy in all kind of ways. For me it is most important that they are happy and wear MvdT with pride. So on daily base I feel happy. 😉
- How is your day-to-day life regarding the job as a Jewellery Designer?
Running the business from A to Z is not always about creativity. So a lot of answering emails, social media, making orders ready.
- What is your work/life balance?
The first 2 years it was really difficult. What most entrepreneurs experience is that you work your butt off to get there. Every opportunity you go for. In the end this is really exhausting. Nowadays I really follow my strategy and focus on what side of the company needs growth. Besides that I learned to keep my balance. I give myself time off. Nature calms me down. I live close to the beach. Make sure I eat healthy and take time for that. Since January I started yoga, I do Yin or Yin Yang classes. I find my peace there, as I am forced to calm down in each practice. Your pose doesn’t need to be perfect and don’t need to force anything. This is the opposite of the daily life routine growing a business. Running a business is in your head 24/7 and most of the time I wonder “How can I do things better”. The business in general is going so fast, so you need to keep up track not get behind.
- Would you say you have to become self-employed to work as a Jewellery Designer?
No, not necessarily. You can work for a brand, but find a brand that’s close to your identity of designing.
- Who inspires you most and why?
I am inspired by young cool kids who already follow there passion and see there ambition on a young age. For example: Japanese skater kids Sky (8yr Girl) and Ocean (5yr Boy), Maggie Rogers (22yr), Jaden Smith (19yr son of Will Smith). They all have there own stories, to go for there own passion and inspire other people.
- When did you know that Jewelry Designer is the right work for you?
When I ran into this workshop in Bali, after a few lessons my designs were already popular by people I met along my journey in Bali. And most important the real deal of handcrafting.
- Do you think networking is important in your role of work? If so, how do you network?
Yes, it is important. You need people to help you progress, to get your name out. I do it, but I should do it more often I guess. In the end it is about getting away from your desk and go outside to meet people. I visit stores or interesting places to get inspired, like cool exposition, hotels, restaurants. Traveling is an important way for me to meet new people and get inspired.
- What are your best tips for someone who’d like to become a professional Jewellery Designer?
Find your own authentic way of designing and do not copy others. Find your own signature. In the end people really see and feel if there is a soul in the designs.
- How can you teach yourself about Jewellery Design?
Just do it! Like a lot of things. After doing you will find out if it is your way or not.
- In your opinion, is it necessary to ‘learn’ Jewelry Design in a school environment (University, private course etc.) in order to become a professional Jewellery Designer?
Not necessarily.You need some lessons of course, but when you follow your passion things come naturally by just doing it.
- What would you have wanted to know before starting your work as a Jewelry Designer?
Not something in particular.
- What should people really think about before choosing to go into Jewelry Designing?
You need to have patients in every way.
- The book/blog you would suggest any person to read if they’d want to become a Jewellery Designer?
It is not about jewelry design, but the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho was a big inspiration for me. It is like a small bible for me. After reading this I directly started to make plans to follow my dreams. The trip to Bali was the start of all.
- What is most important in your work?
To have fun! You need to have fun to get further in every step.
- How do you deal with disappointments?
I feel it, but I try to look at it in a different way. What can I learn of this situation, what can I do better. Most of the time you realize your not on the right track. I am quite good in problem solving and search for new different ways to get things done.
- Do you have a mentor? Or did someone help/guide you in your career path?
I make sure I surround myself with people who I can level with, that are full of ideas. A few of them are entrepreneurs. You understand one another and help each other to get to a higher level. Besides that I have lovling family and friends who are really supporting and help me out at times. Nowadays I would love to find a good coach who I commit to, so I can get MvdT to higher level.
- Please describe the fashion sector!
Difficult question. For me I feel I am in the fashion industry, but jewelry is a side step. It has a different approach. The fashion industry can be very tough, I don’t feel that in the jewelry business. I think it has a friendlier approach. Maybe because there is more emotion in jewelry than in clothing.