After a chilly (albeit mild) Chicago weekend, we cannot wait to head to LA where the sun is shining and the skies are clear. First time Renegade Maker, Melissa Sonico will be selling her jewelry and accessories at Grand Park this weekend and we can’t wait to pick up some holiday gifts!
Have you always been passionate about design?
I’ve always had an interest in design across different platforms. Only recently have I ventured outside of the abstract to making something tangible.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
I started designing and making necklaces a little over a year ago, mainly just for friends and family. It’s been a little under a year since I’ve been selling them. The switch was spurred on by my family and friends who really supported me.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
It’s hard not to be influenced by other makers, but I think there’s plenty of room for everyone’s visions, and the fact that my designs are handmade and are infused with my own aesthetics (down to the colors, textures, shapes, and materials) makes each piece individual from each other, not to mention anyone else’s designs.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
It was something I’d never had any exposure to before; but in this competitive business, I’ve found that I’m going to run into people who don’t want me to succeed for whatever reason. It was humbling and anxiety-inducing, but I got a lot of support and advice from people who have been in the industry a lot longer—they’ve been so helpful and inspiring. They taught me to develop thicker skin which is so, so important in any line of work.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
I’ve been incredibly lucky to love doing what I do, so in that aspect I don’t really see myself having had any sacrifices or regrets.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
The positive feedback and the love from all the other independent makers in this business really make the experience worthwhile. Any small bit of success is owed to my little community of creatives I’ve met and collaborated with.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I’m not sure there’s a direct connection between the two, but I do name each necklace after street names in my town!
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I really went in blind, taking photos on my iPhone, taking care of all parts of production from my little one-bedroom cottage while teaching college English, and hoping for the best. Again, I have to say I’m pretty lucky to have had the progress I’ve had so far.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
Creating is something that I think is inherent to my happiness, and the appeal of doing for a living outweighed other job options.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I’m inspired by color and texture and mixing different sorts of materials like metals and threads and clay. Neutral pairings and little pops of color and shine.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Advice is a tricky thing because one thing that works for someone might not work for someone else. It’s really a matter of following your instincts, but I do have a few friends I go to for help. I guess I’d say to accept help when it’s given.