Emily Griffith, the woman behind Laundry Girl Jewelry, is using her craft skills to not only make a living, but to change peoples perspectives. Through using recycled materials and customization techniques, Griffith is able to cater to a wider audience than most. Get to know her and her business below!
Name: Emily Griffith
Business name: Laundry Girl Jewelry
What do you make: Handmade jewelry from recycled leather
How long have you been doing this: I started Laundry Girl Jewelry about two years ago but I’ve been making jewelry for about six years now.
Retail locations where people can find your product: Mercantile 37, Atlanta, IN; Twisted Sisters, Indianapolis, IN; Aster + Gray, Valparaiso, IN; Laynee’s Boutique, Avon, IN; Pink Poppy Lifestyle Boutique, Shelbyville, IN; Dragonfly Boutique, Seymour, IN; the store at the Indiana State Museum.
What piqued your initial interest in designing your products?
It’s totally selfish, but I started designing because I was looking for stuff that I liked. I wanted something that would last a long time, that I wouldn’t have to spend a lot of money on, and I wanted to be able to wear it with a lot of things. I started using recycled materials because it’s good for the earth and its a good example for my kids, that we can take something that was trash and give it a use.
What principles do you use when designing?
Obviously one of my principles is trying to reuse things that are “outcasts.” I also try to go for uniqueness. Some items I want to be stand out pieces, then others are just simple, everyday wear. I always try to make something that is going to fit everyone. With the wrap bracelets for example, they can be made to any length. I get people who tell me they can’t wear bracelets because their wrists are too big or too small, and they get so excited when I tell them that these will.
Who and/or what influences your design style? How would you describe your design aesthetics and values?
I would describe my aesthetic as simple, I like to keep things easy, not over the top. I’m inspired by things and colors in nature. I want to translate everyday living into pieces of jewelry, right now, I’m obsessed with my new gold hoop earrings!
What comes first for you, the design materials or the design concept?
Since I use all recycled stuff it definitely depends on the materials. I order scraps from crafters who make leather baby shoes, and when I get them I never know what I am gonna get. I see what colors look good together and then figure out what I can make with them.
Could you describe the process of creating a piece – from conception to finish?
For example, we’ll take the the mosaic bracelets. First I get the materials and choose which colors I like together. I use a template to draw the circles on the leather and then I cut them out by hand. I then take the colors I like together and make different shapes out of the circles. I’ll make a bunch of these at a time and attach the bolo parts.
What is your favorite tool, and why?
My favorite tool is my paintbrush, and all I really use it for is to apply glue to the trays with the leather pieces. I am a painter, and so that part of the process takes me back to the basics. It’s a relaxing part where I can kind of zone out.
Describe a piece you’ve created that you are most proud of. What was special about it?
My daughter’s favorite movie is Song of the Sea, it’s a kid’s movie but the graphics and the colors are amazing. So Cartoon Saloon, the people who made the movie, have a monthly challenge, and they had one for Song of the Sea to make the characters in your own style. So I cut little tiny pieces of leather and made little faces with pieces of leather. It was a really big challenge, and my kids loved it. It’s not like the jewelry that I make or sell, but I was really proud of it.
Describe the commissioning process. What are the best and worst aspects of doing commissions?
I don’t really do lots of commissions. I have some customers that will ask for miniature versions of things for their kids, and I am happy to do that. The worst part about trying to commission things is the back and forth communication can be exhausting. But I don’t get too many of those, and they are usually for customers who I have had for a couple of years.
What advice you would give to aspiring designers like yourself?
Just do something. Take baby steps even though they seem stupid, even though it doesn’t seem like they are going to get you where you need to go. Don’t worry about making the right decision or the wrong decision, just do something.
What is one thing that the creative/design community can do in Indianapolis to help grow an audience for custom or hand-crafted work?
There’s a large audience for handmade work in Indianapolis, but I wish there were more intimate settings for it where people might feel a little more comfortable. It is a little intimidating if you are new to it, so if we could create little pockets where people could meet each other naturally, that might make it a bit easier.
My dream commission would be Anthropologie, because I think my aesthetic kind of fits theirs. My dream client would be someone like Joanna Gaines, again because I think the aesthetic fits, and her outreach is crazy. I should just email her!
What makes your work different from anyone else’s?
I think using the recycled materials- to have people approach me and tell me that they have scraps they are going to throw away that I can use, makes the process unique. I’m also trying to encompass everyone I’ve had men buy my bracelets even though they aren’t necessarily what I am catering to. To see people who wouldn’t normally be buying that type of jewelry because they don’t think it will fit, but then be able to is super rewarding.
What’s your most rewarding memory in your business?
At one show I did, a girl with teeny tiny wrists was trying on bracelets and couldn’t find any to fit. I told her that I could make any of them custom fit, since I bring my tools with me to shows, and she almost cried because she was so happy. One girl comes to every show I do so she can get new bracelets that fit her.
Is there any maker you would recommend to be highlighted for this series?
Mercantile 37 is a shop in Atlanta Indiana, where I consign some things. One of the owners makes ceramics, and their shop is really cool!