I've spent many years interviewing inspirational artisans who create beautiful handmade things. It's one of my favorite things to do and I'm bringing in this element more on Coquette this fall. For my first interview, I had the exciting opportunity to talk to jewelry designer Emily Wheat Maynard of Elva Fields. She is the creative genius and business person behind her exquisite Kentucky-based jewelry line. Her pieces are bold, colorful and make the perfect fashion statement!
Natalie: Tell me a bit about your background and how you started Elva Fields. Where did the name come from?
Emily: I've always loved creating things – my mother is an artist, so it definitely runs in the blood. I arrived at this design business after graduating with a Master's degree in Decorative Art History, specializing in the history of jewelry. After a few years in the library immersed in research of beautiful things, I realized I wanted to make them, too. (And a class in ancient metalsmithing techniques confirmed my suspicions!) Elva Fields is named for my great-grandmother, without whom I would not have my wonderful, essential, and worthwhile education.
Natalie: I love that you mention the cohesion of the academic with the artistic in your jewelry? Can you explain more about this?
Emily: I truly feel like I found the perfect life for myself, intertwining my love of research and knowledge with my desire to create things, all the while working with my hands. I scour markets far and wide, using a trained eye to find fantastic vintage and antique jewels (and often a bit of research ensues) and then repurpose them in new designs, pairing them with contemporary materials.
Natalie: What are your design inspirations for your current fall collection?
Emily: Our Fall Collection theme is "Town and Country" which takes great inspiration from life in both worlds. I live in a small rural Kentucky town, so rolling countryside abounds. Yet, we're just a 30-minute drive from Louisville, Kentucky's largest city, so urban landscapes inform many of the designs, too. It's been a fun juxtaposition of color, texture, pattern, and finish.
Natalie: What are some must have pieces for the season and what outfit would you pair them with?
Emily: Oh, fun! We've been doing a lot of this lately on our blog: http://elvafields.tumblr.com.
But if I could choose a few of my all-time favorites to style, here are a few:
Natalie: You not only inspire us with your jewelry but you also inspire us with your generous heart. Tell me more about the Backpack Buddies of Spencer County program and how Elva Fields purchases benefits these kids.
Emily: Backpack Buddies provides healthy meals and snacks to children in our community who depend on the local schools for (nearly) every meal – most people are shocked that the need is so great so close to home, but it's the reality here. Nearly 200 students each receive a bag of food to enjoy at home over the weekend, when they don't have access to the school cafeterias they depend on so greatly during the week. The Backpack Buddies program is able to fill a bag with delicious food for less than $3, so we donate $3 of every online purchase at ElvaFields.com to their mission, helping to make a difference in the lives of those where we live and work. (We also offer special, limited-edition products especially for Backpack Buddies...stay tuned for a fun Holiday gift-giving opportunity!)
Natalie: Can you give us a hint on what you are working on for next season?
Emily: We do have a fun collaboration in the works with a new retailer that is set to launch soon...and our own Holiday Collection is full of fun and familiar surprises! Let's just say it hits close to home...stay tuned!