We’re excited to be kicking off our Chicago Maker Spotlights with some serious bling. Powers Handcrafted Jewelry is a collection of minimally designed, easy to wear pieces with timeless appeal. Each style has a range of inspirations, from art and architecture to history and science. Every piece is handmade in Chicago by Maranda Powers with a strong focus on quality craftsmanship.
Have you always been passionate about design? Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
-I’ve loved making things for as long as I can remember. I was always encouraged to be creative and dabbled in lots of different mediums. Aside from a brief period in high school when I was really into making hemp necklaces-I didn’t discover jewelry making until my senior year in college. I was an illustration major when I took an intro to metal smithing class as an elective and quickly fell in love. After graduation, I worked in a jewelry repair shop for five years where I received the majority of my training as a bench jeweler.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
-Being trained in a more commercial or service environment has definitely influenced my work. Craftsmanship and attention to detail were of course always a priority, but I also had to focus on function and wearability. Seeing how jewelry wears over the years and learning what styles tend to break over and over has informed the way I create. I don’t put any design into production without thinking about how daily wear will effect the piece, and I am confident that my jewelry will last for years to come.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained? / What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business? / What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
-I have wanted to be my own boss and earn a living as a maker since I graduated art school over a decade ago, but I worked for other people until I launched my own business earlier this year. There were definitely times over the years when that felt like failure! It sounds so cliche, but all those jobs, from shop girl to wedding photographer to personal assistant, were opportunities to learn from other small business owners and creative people, even if I didn’t feel like I was gaining anything but a pay check at the time. When I WAS ready to take the leap and launch my own jewelry line, I felt confident and prepared.
What are some inspirations for your work?
-Space and stones!! I’ve been interested in science since I was a kid, especially astronomy and geology. I even went to Space Camp and was a member of the rocks and minerals team for the Science Olympiad! Now, as a grown-up nerd, I incorporate a lot of space themes into my work and I am drawn to stones that reflect the natural forces that created them.
-I also love learning other crafts and exploring different mediums, I have an urge to always be making something! I am almost always taking a class or trying to teach myself something new, from sewing and knitting to screen printing and throwing pottery. Learning new creative processes informs my jewelry making and always keeps me inspired.