Reclaimed and Salvage Jewellery
I seem to prefer simple and elegant design in jewellery, I find chevron symbols very charming and I love almost anything with a monogram. That may be why I am so drawn to the work of Brandy Olley of Salvage Jewelry Co. After featuring one of her custom pieces in our Ruralist story on personalized gifts I wanted to learn more. Working with reclaimed metal and vintage jewellery can’t be easy! I caught up with Brandy in her Kingston studio to learn more about her work and her process. Here’s is what I learned:
Tell us about your Salvage Jewelry Co.:
Salvage Jewelry Co. has stemmed from my love of vintage jewelry. I use vintage components from deconstructed old relics and reuse them to create an updated, modern piece. I can always can be found rummaging through vintage stores, flea markets or perhaps your grandmother’s jewelry box for pieces that inspire my designs.
What do enjoy most about making jewellery?
I love the process of creating new pieces. From the first sketches to actually figuring out how to make it in metal to the finished piece. It’s so creative, challenging and fun. I love taking an old relic of a piece or a recycled piece of scrap metal and turning it into a casual modern fashion.
What inspires you?
Because I work with recycled metals and upcycled vintage components there is a nostalgic quality to my work. I am very inspired by the art nouveau period and the arts & crafts movement started by William Morris way back around the turn of the last century. But I love to marry these ideals with modern style. Making pieces that have modern style but with a vintage soul.
How did your business get started?
I studied at NSCAD University in Halifax and earned a BFA while studying jewelry, textiles, communication and design graduating in 2003. After graduating I decided to put my entrepreneurial spirit to good use and was awarded a small business grant to launch my shop ‘Touch’ in 2003 featuring handmade goods in Cobourg Ontario. I was awarded ‘Emerging Business of the Year’ from the Chamber of Commerce as well as being the youngest member to be elected to the Board of Directors. This was an incredible experience and taught me so much about running a small business. My husband and I decided to move to Kingston while he pursued a master’s degree in sport psychology so I closed the shop but continued to run the business in a wholesale model. Once I started up Salvage I knew my passion lay in metal smithing and slowly made the switch.
After moving to Kingston I was looking for a new creative outlet. I was at a flea market, one of my favourite things to do and I was rummaging around in some vintage jewelry. I have always loved old jewelry but there are a lot of pieces that are just plain outdated. So I started thinking about how I could change them up, recycled them and make them into a modern style that could be worn everyday. I began to tinker and started to bring in some of the metal smithing techniques that I had learned at art school and started a small line that I tested out at a few craft shows. Quickly I had shops approach me to sell the line and I’ve just kept going with it, growing all the way.
Tell us about what new things are happening:
I have just moved into a dedicated studio space and am working towards updating my equipment to be able to make pieces using some new and exciting (to me anyhow!) techniques. I have also been working feverishly at applications for some pretty big Christmas shows, yes already! Plus I just launched the new spring line last week on the website. Also, I will be taking part in the Urban Craft Market Sunday June 9, in Ottawa.
What do you wish people knew about your business?
I make all of the findings for my line, I hand forge all the ear wires, toggle clasps and jump rings. Details are important to me so I like to make as much from scratch as possible.
Also I do a lot of custom work. Not really a kept secret or anything but people are generally excited to learn that I do custom pieces for wedding parties, brides and mamas. In particular I do custom cufflinks and tie clips for the groom and his whole party, bridal party jewelry and gifts as well as stamped mama jewelry with vintage pendants that have been stamped with their children’s initials.
What are some other unique aspects of your business?
I work in reclaimed and upcycled materials and using eco-conscious methods and products is extremely important to me. I use all recycled packaging for shipping and am very careful about the choices in raw materials I make in my studio.
What do you like to do when you’re not making jewellery?
Besides running Salvage I have an amazing 2.5 year old daughter who is just the apple of my eye and keeps me super busy. I have a great husband who is incredibly supportive of me leading a creative life and in deciding to make a living out of being an entrepreneur. Together we love to work on our fixer upper of a home, work in our veggie garden and ride our bikes all over town.
What other local businesses do you recommend?
Having grown up in a rural community I have quite a few shops in rural communities that carry my line. I love to support small business and love to see independent shops carrying local artists in small towns. I cannot recommend these gorgeous shops enough:
–The Sugar Post, Merrickville
–The Studio Boutique, Carleton Place
–Chickadelic Salvage & Design, Stirling
–Steel Style Garage, Gananoque
–Tin Barn Market, Almonte