DARYA - owner, designer + maker
Originally from Cortes Island and raised by artisans, making jewelry brings me back to my "grassroots" and my love for modern architecture and design is what influences my current "urban" life. I cannot imagine a world without creativity and the ability to express it. Jewelry is one way that I express that creativity but I am also passionate about interior design, photography, art, landscape, furniture design and drafting. I don't have one specific influence on my making, I find inspiration from everywhere really. Sometimes just an off cut piece of metal or polymer clay can spark a new idea. I tend to notice shape and texture first before anything and that is reflected the most in my designing.
For a long time I didn't wear jewelry, specifically earrings, because I have extremely sensitive ears. It was hard for me to find the exact style I wanted in a material that I could wear. I am also quite chemically sensitive and wanted to only wear non toxic accessories (and handle non toxic items while making them). I knew there were others out there experiencing the same thing and so quality is always at the forefront of my designing.
Truthfully, I didn't ever think I would be making jewelry as my living. I have never been a very creative or crafty person since my focus in life was always working with people and counselling. I have discovered; however, that jewelry making is very therapeutic and I actually really enjoy it.
I spent my childhood living on a homestead where our family was quite self sufficient. There is something about that simple life that I still want to hold onto and recreate for my family. The balance of working from the home studio, managing our modern "homestead" and working with my hands really does recreate it in a lot of ways.
I have thought about venturing back into some form of counselling but working with my wife, at our home brings a very good balance.
gras ‘roots URBAN started unexpectedly as a creative outlet during a really difficult time in my life. My Mom was diagnosed with late stage Multiple Myeloma Cancer and the stress of being her full time caregiver, a stay at home mom to a young child, combined with the fear of loss made life in general very overwhelming and I ended up experiencing a nervous breakdown (which was actually adrenal fatigue). It was by accident that I discovered jewelry making and it was exactly what I needed. I didn’t intend on selling any of the pieces I made but friends and family loved it so I did. I started out with a few hand me down tools in my cold garage making things with found objects because I had not capitol to invest into proper tools and supplies. My good friend, who is a very accomplished wire jewelry maker, taught me a few techniques and over time I started getting some sales. I was ecstatic! This hobby that I enjoyed so much and took so much of my stress away was starting to turn into something more. One morning I saw an advertisement at a college in the next city over for a weekend metal jewelry workshop. I desperately wanted to go but it was $500 and we had NO money at the time for it, but I knew it was a direction I wanted to go in for the future. On a random afternoon an old friend of my husband’s arrived unexpectedly at our door. He always brought us the most amazing locally caught salmon that he canned himself. On this day, when I greeted him, he said “I saw this workshop in the news paper and I’d like to pay for you to go plus travel expenses,” and handed me an envelope with all of the funds! I can’t even describe how excited and blessed I felt. I was still in an unstable mental state in the sense that I got overwhelmed very easily and needed to take quiet breaks often. I knew that I couldn’t make the 45 minute drive twice a day for 4 days straight so my Dad drove me EVERY TIME. There and back home and there to pick me up again and back home (3 hours each day). This was the most pivotal moment in my jewelry making. It’s really when it became a business. After that workshop I invested what very little money I had into some copper and sterling silver and a few good hammers and launched GRASSROOTSDESIGNS artisan jewelry. I got my first wholesale account shortly after and I started seeing sales outside of friends and family. Backtrack for a minute, before this I had been a private Spanish teacher and a wedding planner and had always intended on doing that again once my Mom was better, but I loved making jewelry and I was seeing success with it. Fast forward a few years and my little business was doing really well, but I was getting tired of working in a cold garage, and at the dining room table, and in the guest room and selling out of our living room. I wanted to have a proper studio. That was when we made the decision to build our house on a property that could have a self contained workspace. It was a triumphant day when the studio got built, but it was short lived. We needed it for storage during the build so I worked out of a small corner with all of our boxes and no heat AGAIN…for 18 months.
Then everything took a turn for the terrible. Right before we started building I sustained a head injury. I thought over time, with recovery, I would be able to forge metal again (without side effects) but it just didn't happen. I couldn't forge metal anymore. EVERYTHING I had worked for over the past 7 years was over. I was devastated. I, very literally, was talking with Jordan about what to do, what job I could even do after this injury that was so easily aggravated? Should I go back to Spanish? Or do something else? Then I discovered polymer clay. I don’t even know how. It just appeared. I did a week of research to figure out the basics and ordered my first batch of clay and a few tools. I was INSTANTLY hooked! Truthfully, it didn’t matter to me if I loved it or not because it was the only way to save my business, but I really do LOVE it, maybe even more than metal work. A few weeks later I bought everything I needed to transition over to polymer clay. I spared no expense since I had stores waiting for this new work I would be producing and knew it would be worth the investment. Right around the same time we finished the studio with insulation, heat, drywall and paint…it was lovely. It was the first time I felt like a legitimate maker. It’s amazing how a proper work space can do that. Because of the dramatic change in medium, I decided it was also time for a rebranding and GRASSROOTSDESIGNS artisan jewelry became gras ‘roots URBAN. My dream was always to grow my little business to a point where Jordan could leave his 9-5 and we could work together. It was the most amazing and surreal feeling when that day came. It was also always a dream to have my jewelry featured in New York, the heart of art and culture in North America, and that day came in early 2022, 10 years after I had first began this journey.
Everything about what I make is so personal to me because it was such a long, difficult journey to get here. My hope is that is shows in every piece.