We are grinning from ear to ear about this spotlight because this collection is designed and produced by our own beautiful and uber-talented, Columbus Store Manager, Madeleine Etter. Her collection, Phyllis + Hazel, is a modern and unpredictable handcrafted jewelry line that’s infused with bold color and good material mixes yet it’s infinitely wearable. You can check out the entire collection on our website.
Maddie, as we know her, first came to work with us as an intern while completing her Fashion Design degree at the Columbus College of Art and Design. We are thrilled she’s back and thought we’d take this opportunity to feature an interview with Maddie about her design process for creating Phyllis + Hazel.
With formal training and a degree in fashion design, what motivated you to design jewelry over apparel?
I’ve always made jewelry. With creative parents, I grew up painting, drawing, sculpting and sewing. My mother worked at a jewelry store for nearly my whole life so she led my creative pursuits in that direction. When I was at summer camp I learned to macramé as many of us did. I started with basic beading and pearl stringing techniques. My mom showed me how to finish things professionally with clasps and hardware and taught me how important keeping an inventory was. I began selling my work at age 11. When I began school at CCAD, jewelry took a backseat for a while as I worked to develop other skill-sets. My senior year I took a course in metal working and recently picked up the craft again at the Cultural Arts Center. This has allowed me to incorporate metal working into my pieces as well as beading and fiber art.
What inspired the name Phyllis + Hazel for your line?
Phyllis + Hazel were my guinea pigs in college. I’ve never liked the idea of just tagging items with my name. It just didn’t feel right. My boyfriend suggested I name it after the pigs and it stuck. Phyllis has since passed away but Hazel is pushing 6 years old now. We now have Agnus as well.
Who is your favorite style icon and why?
I don’t really have a favorite style icon. There are many designers I admire, like Vivienne Westwood, the mother of Punk fashion, the late Isabella Blow and her close friend Alexander McQueen, and up-and-coming designer Charlotte Taylor, whose sense of color and pattern is inspiring. The reason that I went into fashion design was because as a teenager, I couldn’t find anything off the rack that I liked. There still isn’t any one label or brand that never fails me in some way but there are so many inspiring people out there that it is nice to be able to pick and choose.
How do you begin your design process and what inspires you to start crafting each new piece?
I’ve been hoarding supplies since I was probably 6 years old. I recently went through everything I had and got rid of bags of beads that I couldn’t envision becoming jewelry. When I decided I wanted to get serious about selling my work, I restocked and bought a lot of new supplies. I spread everything out all over the floor before I start making jewelry. I have to be able to see everything so if there is a necklace that needs a certain kind of bead or embellishment I can find it. Typically, I really have to be in the mood to make something. I can’t force myself to make jewelry unless I’m restocking on a style I’ve already designed. I also rarely sketch. I wish that I still did, I just don’t’ find it useful anymore. I like to work everything out in my head and get started. The idea is either there or it isn’t for me.