Today I’m featuring a fun interview with Ellen and Margaret Hinrichs of Geoflora Jewelry!
For years, I’ve been admiring this super fun jewelry in shops and markets around Charlotte. I love jewelry (earrings especially) that is unexpected and unusual. The things I was eyeing gave me heart eyes — somehow both floral and geometric, soft and bold. And that jewelry was made by the caring hands of Ellen and Margaret Hinrichs of Geoflora Jewelry. I have really enjoyed following them over the years, and I was so excited on their behalf when my favorite SNL cast member Aidy Bryant was photographed in Bust wearing their jewelry.
Ellen and Margaret have a relationship that reminds me of mine with my own sister (mine is an artist and I’m a designer, though we aren’t twins) so I especially loved interviewing them and learning how they work creatively together. You’ll love this interview if you have a sister or if you just love eclectic, handmade jewelry! // susannah
1. How would you describe Geoflora?
EH: Our jewelry is eclectic fashion jewelry handmade with love and inspired by the history of adornment.
MH: Our jewelry is edgy and different with references to architectural and art history movements.
2. What were you doing before Geoflora? What inspired you to change paths? In other words, how did you get here?
EH: We have been raised and grown into ourselves through art. We started off young drawing and painting and continued mostly in the 2D realm until we went to college. We both took an intro metals class and fell in love. Our program at ECU was heavily focused on mixed media experimentation. We started our business while still in school (don’t recommend — ha!) and continued incorporating unique materials in with our metal designs.
MH: We weren’t really doing anything before we started our business, as it kind of came about while we were in school at ECU. Once we both realized that we belonged in the 3D realm of art over 2D we became pretty involved in the Metals Design department and participated in the Metals Guild. I eventually became president, but the program sought to bring funding for visiting artists, etc. by having sales of the student’s work. It was a great way to get real world experience and eventually lead us to starting our own Etsy shop while we were still in school and from there our business.
3. When ideas are scarce, where do you turn for creative inspiration?
EH: Well, super cliche but inspiration is everywhere! We do really love taking cues from runway shows, whether its the makeup, textures, color combos, etc. We like to give a nod to the history of adornment and the resurfacing of styles so we jump at the chance to make it our own. We also love following DIY blogs like The House That Lars Built for photoshoot/ lookbook inspiration!
MH: I have always loved bold patterns and the repetition in nature. Whenever I’m needing inspiration I do image searches of plants to kind of refresh my mind or wander around outside. Looking through past sketch books is always a great place to start too because it reminds you of ideas that maybe you haven’t been able to fully develop yet and that’s always a great place to start. I also love looking at our mom’s jewelry collection for ideas. One of our designs is actually based off an old style of earring that we remade for our older sister after she lost the pair our mother gave her traveling!
4.Describe your workspace.
EH: Well, haha, our studio is in the dining room of our house. We each have old sideboards we use as jewelers benches and we have a soldering station set up as well. It’s not glamorous but we’ve made it home!
MH: Well messy. VERY messy. Sometimes we clean up when we have guests but you know you’re really special when we don’t clean up for you at all! Our studio is in the dining room of our tiny house so there’s really no hiding the mess and it kind of becomes the center of attention whenever we have someone over since it’s such a foreign thing to most people. We love showing people around and explaining our process!
5. What have been your biggest successes and challenges in running Geoflora?
EH: Definitely our number one challenge is the day job! We both do jewelry repair for 40 hours a week and then come home and hustle hard!
MH: What Ellen said. Sometimes we just can’t do it all because our day jobs get in the way but for right now that’s how we pay the bills. We try to keep our business money in the business so that lack of funds never hinders our growth.
6. What are your dreams for Geoflora?
EH: The big, ultimate dream is for it to be our full-time gig. We would embrace whatever form that takes but we don’t really have plans for having a store front in the future, we’d rather be able to focus on the making and the selling online/at markets.
MH: Definitely to make it our full time job. We love what we do and we can’t wait for that day to get here! I would say nothing grandiose. I just want to be able to make a name for ourselves and make a comfortable living doing what we love.
7. Who do you look up to?
MH: Well I was going to say Alexander Calder as well, twins think alike! And I definitely look up to our older sister. She is an art director at an advertising agency in St. Louis and a badass! She does it all, as well as all our graphic design and branding work. She is who makes us look professional!
8.Where and how do you love to spend your time off?
EH: Our parents are here in town and we make sure to make time to have brunch with them, usually every weekend when we’re not traveling. Our time off is very scarce so something as simple as a night off with a glass of wine and silly movie is always a treat.
MH: Weekends away typically means that we are travelling for a market but we have seen and explored a lot of fun places through our business. We don’t have very much time off from our jobs but we love going out with friends and relaxing with our family when we have the chance. Exploring new restaurants with our friends is always high on the list too!
9.What three books, websites or resources do you recommend to someone whose dream job is your job?
EH: You can’t go wrong with The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight (affiliate link). Ganoksin has great tutorials and resources, and Facebook groups believe it or not have been really invaluable for fielding questions and growing a community!
MH: Rio Grande is not only a great website for ordering supplies but also for tutorials as well. Flourish and Thrive Academy has great online classes for everything from building your brand identity to learning how to wholesale. And finally the Small Business Administration is a great source for the forms and legal documents needed to start your own business.
10.If you weren’t running Geoflora, what would be your dream job?
EH: Ohh man, I think I’d really love to be a florist and play with amazing flowers all day!
MH: Yeah we would probably start our own florist shop together!