Melyssa Burris, owner of Apple + Sol Organics and Juniper Feather, does it all when it comes to creating organic and natural products. Along with being a part-time masseuse, she creates all-natural and organic bath and body products along with skincare products from the love of nature. Juniper Feather, however, is her newest business venture which spotlights beautiful jewelry made-up of mostly stones and beads Burris finds from nature. Her business is all about using natural materials and bringing their energy straight from the earth to your body. You can find her on Instagram here!
What piqued your initial interest in designing your product(s)?
It wasn’t anything that I consciously thought of doing, it was just something that kind of happened. Four years ago I was walking on the beach and started noticing these stones with holes in them and something told me to collect them, so I did. Four years later in June, my daughter, Camille, asked me to go and get string to make bracelets. So we go and something told me to grab hemp strings and beads. We go home and sit out on our deck making bracelets and something told me to go grab those stones from four years ago and I started making necklaces.
What principles do you use when designing?
I go with my intuition. Before I go to bed at night I’ll see different colors and designs. Sometimes when I give people massages I’ll see different color and beading sequences, as soon as the client leaves I’ll run to my supplies and make it.
Who and/or what influences your design style? How would you describe your design aesthetics and values?
It’s organic, earthy, and there’s a bit of a Native American flare to it. When I do my necklaces it’s more of a Western feel for sure.
What comes first for you, the design materials or the design concept?
The materials. What I do is I go through and I find stones or beads that speak to me. I lay them out on my dining room table and start creating.
Could you describe the process of creating a piece – from conception to finish? The creative process as well as material selection and labor process, too?
I’ll go and collect what materials are calling me. Then I’ll grab a string or a cord, whatever I feel works best with the pieces I’m working with. Finally, I’ll take everything outside around the trees and animals and then the design process takes over.
What is your favorite tool, and why?
My favorite tool isn’t necessarily a tool but rather a material: beads.
Describe a piece you’ve created that you are most proud of. What was special about it?
I took a metal smith class and I made this bracelet in the shape of a wave and it’s my favorite piece.
Describe the commissioning process. What are the best and worst aspects about doing commissions?
People usually tell me to use my intuition or to give them whatever I think they need in their life, so I have never had a bad experience commissioning jewelry. I like knowing who the jewelry goes to. I can tap into their energy and then the idea just comes to me.
What advice you would give to aspiring designers like yourself?
Do what’s in your heart. It’s who you are and you just have to do what makes you happy.
What is one thing that the creative/design community can do in Indianapolis to help grow an audience for custom or hand-crafted work?
I think Indianapolis does a great job of supporting local businesses. Everyone has to go through a learning-process when it comes to having a small business. We just all have to support each other and not compete with each other too much.
Ellen DeGeneres. I swear I have had dreams about giving her a massage before!
What makes your work different from anyone else’s?
I think the stones I use, Hag stones, differentiate my work from other jewelers. They’re for protection and if you look through the holes they ‘take you to different realms.’ A lot of my materials are naturally sourced. I literally pick stones up on the beach and use them. As far as the energy goes, it all comes from nature. What better vibe is there than the ocean and the beach?
What’s your most rewarding memory in your business?
Sitting on my porch with my daughter making jewelry. It’s how we connect.