Friday, July 4, 2014

Go Local: Mineralogy

It's finally time again for our favorite feature! It's no secret that we love the hunt for amazing local designers and today we have the pleasure of sharing another one of our favorite finds. Theresa Cowan, who was mentioned in our very first Go Local post (it's a lasting obsession), has been a metalsmith since she graduated from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This is where she conceptualized her very own small business, Mineralogy Design. Since, her feminine and nature-based work has been sold out of adorable shops, including Roslyn, Anthropologie, Modern Co-op and more (for a full stocklist, visit her website). Take a look at what inspires her work and why Samantha owns all these pieces for herself. 

Meet Theresa:
What/who inspires you?
I am most inspired by my materials and the way they interact with each other. Textures are also something that I am very intrigued by and the natural textures that occur in the minerals I use never cease to amaze and inspire me.

How is your personal style reflected in the jewelry you make?
I feel that my personal style shows through in my work in a few different ways. In my own style, I like to make a simple statement through one item in my wardrobe, whether that is a necklace, a pair of shoes, or a printed top. I try to find understated beauty in not over-emphasizing fashion or trying too hard to wear a lot of things that stand out. My style is feminine, but in a subtle way and I try to strive for that quality in my jewelry. It's not specific to one person or another, but I feel that is fits into the style of many women and really takes on it's true personality by the one wearing it.

What is your favorite piece in your current collection?
I have so many favorites now that I am working in gold and diamonds, but out of my current collection, the lavender lepidolite with quartz necklace is hands down my favorite. The lepidolite is a flat and flaky mineral and has this great iridescent quality to it and the quartz has beautifully terminated prisms to compliment the lepidolite.

What is your creative design process?
Whenever I am working on a collection, I lay out all of the materials I am working with and see how they interact together. Sometimes I sketch out ideas of designs, but many times, it's more of a tactile process of arranging the minerals to find the composition that's aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes the minerals function on their own in a design or other times I like to add other design elements fabricated in metal or vintage materials. 

What do you love most about Chicago and the small business community?
The best part about running a small creative business in Chicago is that there is a great community of support in the form of shared studio spaces, workshops,  boutiques, local markets, and shoppers. The city has so many great boutiques that support local makers and are an integral part in brand awareness and helping designers to make an impact locally. I really enjoy how each space has a different aesthetic and customer base and represents our work in different ways. It's always interesting to see what each store carries in different neighborhoods and the owners always have such a strong sense of what their customers respond to, which gives me insight to my work and how I progress.

What advice do you have for aspiring small business entrepreneurs like yourself?
Mentors are extremely important to have in life, but especially as a small business owner. There are so many things to learn that it's crucial to learn whatever you can from someone you know and trust. Also, it's great to have someone to help you see things with an outsider's perspective. We all get so close to our work and designs and it can be hard to step back and see things differently so that you can make important design and brand decisions, so it's great to have a few people to reach out to to help you through those things.

When you aren't making fabulous jewelry, how do you like to spend your time?
I don't have a lot of free time since I work alone and manage every aspect of my business, but when I do, I make sure to make the most of my time off. I enjoy visiting my family in Wisconsin and horsebackriding, spending time at the lake with my husband and cooking together, and reading and drawing when I can. We also enjoy riding our bikes together and's such a great break from work and the city!

Get Samantha's Look: Herkimer Diamond in Sterling Ring
Other pieces one-of-a-kind and/or limited edition. 
Find your own unique piece of her Etsy shop or website.

To keep up with Theresa in her creative process, follow her blog and her Instagram page. To find out at which craft shows you can visit her booth at, keep up with her events page.

Truly Yours,

P.S. "I try to find understate beauty in not over-emphasizing fashion or trying too hard to wear a lot of things that stand out." - Theresa Cowan

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