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INVINCIBLE SUMMER: A collection interview

Written by Marisa Howard


Posted on August 28 2018

The Invincible Summer collection is here! To celebrate the launch, the Seaworthy team created a list of questions for Marisa to answer. From the design process to the final pieces, we covered a little bit of everything! 

If you have additional questions, please comment below and Marisa will answer them in a separate blog post. 


"In the midst of winter I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  - Albert Camus


Q (Seaworthy team) : How would you describe the feel of this new collection in one word (not using the collection name)?

A (Marisa): Feminine

Q:  Why make a collection? 

A: I love this question! I think there are a lot of reasons why the "collection" model exists in the fashion world, but I have never really considered those when creating my collections. As a designer, the collection model allows me the opportunity to fully explore a concept. I can take a larger idea and explore each of it's parts. If I create one thing and it inspires something else, I can allow the creative process to go there. It also gives me an opportunity to fully realize the designs as a cohesive set. Not only the pieces themselves, but through the story, the lookbook and all the other visuals that we create to bring the collection together. 

Q: How do you decide how many new styles to add?

A: It isn't a perfect science, or a formula where I am trying to get this many new necklaces or that many new rings. I just know when I'm done. I look at all the pieces together and I feel the collection is complete. I always like to leave a couple options open at the end. That I will allow myself to try later if I feel inspired. 

Q: What is your intention when you design a collection?

A: My intention for new designs is to create something truly unique that still fits within my design aesthetic. I like when an idea feels a little uncomfortable at first. That always makes me feel like I'm on the right track. I want to create something that resonates with our existing audience but also feels like something they haven't seen before. 

When I start designing a collection, I first just allow myself to create. I have an idea and I just allow myself to start carving the wax. How the piece will fit into the collection, is not at the forefront of my mind at this point.  Over time, I amass a collection of these tiny wax sculptures and I begin to see how they all fit together. From there I can envision what the pieces will become. 

Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles when it comes to designing a collection?

A: Honestly, self doubt. It can be the killer of creativity. There is a lot of trust involved in creating something new and putting it out to the world. The second challenge is price. A lot of what I want to create would just cost way too much to make. Someday I'll just make a museum collection of all the crazy pieces that are in mind! 

Q: Do you go through the same design process when creating each collection?
does creating each collection feel like a different experience?

A: Each collection does feel different during the design process. I think because design is a vulnerable thing, it is really affected by what is going on in my personal life. I'm not really able to separate the two. Designing is also a creative outlet for me, so often I'm working through things at my bench. I'm expressing something that is below the surface. Inherently, that is going to feel different each time. 

The design process itself is pretty similar each time. I start with sketches. Lots and lots of abstract shapes sketched over and over in a variety of ways. I don't really start sketching the shapes as jewelry until after I've began carving the idea. Once I have carved the shapes and finalized them in metal, I work in unison with the Seaworthy team to help bring the designs to life. We create sample after sample over months and months, perfecting each design for scale and wearability. For example, I carved the first shape in this collection in January of this year and here we are, almost September, and we are just releasing the pieces. So much goes on behind the scenes leading up to the launch of these new collections. 

Q: Who do you create collections for?

A: I create the collections for myself and for our existing customers. I think about the people who have been collecting Seaworthy for years and I consider what would be a good addition to their collections. Something that adds to their personal style but doesn't cancel out a piece they already love. 

I design for a person who appreciates story and who believes in a strong sense of self.

Q: How did you decide on the names for each style?

A: Naming the collection is a cherished part of the process for me. Throughout the design process, I will often have one idea in my mind. It usually doesn't have anything to do with the pieces themselves, but more with what is happening in my life on a personal level. It's like a concept that I'm working through inside my mind. Invincible Summer came about from the idea of how we thrive even during the darkest times. The names of each piece relate to that hope of spring and summer, and the days when we will start to see the sun again. 

Q: What is your favorite piece from the collection?

A: Oh boy, this one is hard. I think I really went for it with this collection. I allowed myself to make whatever I wanted and also to not take myself too seriously. The Seaworthy team also collaborated beautifully to bring these designs to life. So, in general, I feel really proud of this collection as a whole. 

The Anemone ring is one of my favorites, it's so playful and I love the composition of metals and stone. When I was wearing it for the first time, I realized that I had designed my first cocktail ring. I also realized in that moment what a cocktail ring actually was!  A show piece for your hand when your standing around drinking cocktails. Also, since it spins, it's like a fashion fidget spinner. When your social anxiety is peaking, your Anemone ring can help you refocus. 

The Yarrow cuff is my other favorite, it was one of the most difficult carvings I've ever made and I'm so happy with how it turned out. The weight is perfect for substantial statement cuff. I know this bracelet is one that will stay in people collections forever. 

Q: What do you feel is the most versatile piece?

A:  The Femme earrings, size small.  They are super lightweight, easy to wear, and just the right amount of statement. The mixed metal makes them super versatile with your existing jewelry collection. They are subtle with your hair down at work and can be a sleek statement with your hair pulled back and a simple black dress. I see these being a great addition to a lot of collections.

Q : Why is sustainable fashion important to your brand and how do you implement it?

A:  Products are created and consumed with very little thought about the impact of how they were manufactured or their lasting ability. No matter how conscious we are about how and what we make, we are still making a product that adds to an already overwhelmed marketplace. So, if I'm going to participate in this industry I need to do it in way that sets an example for change. We care about the pieces we make and how we make them. We want our customers to feel the same way. We support their purchase even after it leaves our hands, through care instructions and repairs. If they lose one earring, they can always purchase a single from them.  We want the item to be a part of their collection for a long time. 

Q: Can you tell me about what old and new jewelry making techniques you use when creating a new collection?

A: Ooh! This one is fun! Each of the pieces we make is handled by multiple jewelers in our studio and is completed over multiple days. We utilize a variety of techniques on each and every piece, most of which are traditional methods that have been used for generations.

The original pieces were hand carved in wax and cast using the lost wax casting method. For these styles, we do the production wax injecting in house and send the wax out to our casters for the raw metal. The raw metal is then returned to us for clean up and assembly.  Some styles utilize water-jet cutting, to get some of the intricate cut out shapes. We are also using a hand disc-cutter in the studio to create a lot of the shapes. For connections, we use both traditional torch soldering and pulse-arc welding. All stones are set by hand in our studio, this season the Juin ring featured prong set stones, which we have't had in the studio for a while. 

Follow our instagram stories to see more behind the scenes of these processes! 

Q: What makes Seaworthy stand apart from other jewelry brands?

A: Hopefully, the first thing that sets us apart is design. The other thing that is unique is how much of the design and manufacturing is done in house. There a couple processes that we leave to other professionals, like production casting, but for the most part we do everything in house. From design to sampling to product testing to production and everything in between. We are not the only jeweler that does this, but I do think it is pretty rare. 

Our sustainability commitment is unique as well. Our production process is nearly waste free and we take a lot of daily actions to minimize our footprint. 

Thank you for reading! 

Feel free to leave more questions in the comments.