Posted by Suzy Ekman on March 23, 2015
All day today one of our lovely makers, Christina Nicole is taking over our Instagramto share her jewelry making process (new Spring hairpins and other new beauties for us!) and give us a glimpse into her world of making and gardening in the North Carolina countryside.
Your motto is “WE ARE MADE TO CONQUER MOUNTAINS” When did you first attach yourself to this phrase? Our trademarked slogan organically grew from where we have been in life this last year. It came to me one day during prayer and meditation in the woods, where most mornings are spent around here. I felt like it was given to me, it inspired me and all I wanted to do was share it. We all have struggles and little mountains to climb every day, we need continual reminding that we’re created to conquer, not to cave.
Much of your jewelry is inspired by the natural landscape of North Carolina. Is there anything specific inspiring you this Spring? This year we’ve spent a wonderful amount of time in the woods, as it should be- and that’s where my point of view comes from. A take on the organic world I regularly come across but in a fresh, modern yet minimal way.
Tell us about your organic gardening. How has growing your own food altered the way you relate to the land around you? We as beings reflect the world around us. We reflect the people we surround ourselves with, we reflect what we watch, read and think. That transpires to everyday life, trickling all the way down to what is on our dinner table. We believe you are what you eat. For our family, we want to know where our food comes from, how it was prepared and how it lived. But we also desire to be accountable for our food. So for our family, that means we want to be self sufficient and grow our own food. We want to curate the land around us with natural materials that benefit the land in years to come, not just the immediate. We want to watch seeds become seedlings and blossom into banana peppers. Understand how vital the bees are to ensuring the cucumbers and watermelon come in each season. And going out of our way to curate an environment where all those elements coexist like they were meant to. Sure it’s inconvenient, it’s time consuming and exhausting, sweaty work… but I can’t imagine not doing it. It almost always leaves a smirk or smile on my face. When you grow your own food, it adds a dimension to you life that didn’t exist prior. It’s so complexly simple, I just want to learn as much as I can.
You’ve had a snowy winter, what signs of Spring are there in your house and the land around it right now? Two weeks ago we had 12″ of snow, then a few days ago it was 83* degrees. Welcome to the whiplash of the South! The Cherry trees, Bradford Pears and violets are in full swing and starting to freckle the landscape with color. Our property has numerous weeping willows that have come alive again and sway and flow with graceful green swooshes. Several trees are budding with white blossoms signaling the beginning of Spring. It’s lovely, of course it will all be covered in an inch of green pollen in a few weeks… But for now, our home is filled with seedlings that we’ve started and kept inside, away from the frost. They are sprouting and ready to be planted in the garden in the coming weeks.
Your house is a beautiful wooden structure. What work have you done on it since you moved in? Do you have an in-home studio? Goodness, don’t we all want to live in an old wooden structure in the mountains? We’re currently living in the North Carolina countryside and our property joins to a significant forest and farming fields. So it feels more like 30 acres. Owning your own home, my what a task. I’m attempting to learn the artform of letting go, it’s much less elegant than it sounds. I won’t get to everything. Not every corner will get a fresh slap of paint but I’m learning to prioritize. Less is more when there’s quality over quantity. Our home studio has transformed and we’re so blessed to work where we nest. It’s a renovated 2 car garage that is full of light, full of as Travis says, ‘the hoards of plants’ and an occasional sleepy cat or two. I’ve owned a working-retail space, a private off-site studio and now a home studio. But honestly, I’m perfectly content to walk into the roomy studio with my morning coffee and a slew of furry friends following.
You are working on some Wedding pieces… Are you doing custom designs?We are currently receiving applications for custom pieces. We’re open to custom requests but only handpick around 15-20 custom pieces per year. Custom projects that not only inspire but also push us and align with our point of view. Again, this ongoing theme of quality over quantity.
Your instagram feed is filled with adorable cats and dogs you are fostering. What is it like caring for those animals and finding new homes for them? Fostering is such a big part of our lives. Adoption and fostering hold precious places in our hearts. We’re actually taking steps to start fostering little ones, as in little HUMANS. If little humans don’t make their rounds soon, I’m sure to become the youngest recorded cat lady in my area. But really, fostering is everything! Things being made new, lives being restored, wounds healing and wholeness remade. We’re surrounded by friends who foster children and animals and grace is in abundance when you’re willing to live in it. You always find love in your heart to give. There’s always room for people and families who don’t look conventional or like the American dream. Yes it difficult, yes our hearts swell and ache when we see a little one go… but are we truly OK with the alternative? Foster homes overcrowded with kids who slip through the cracks, over-run shelters whose only alternative in the moment is to humanely euthanize pets? We can’t stand by and do nothing, we won’t. We spent years saying ‘No’, or ‘I could never’ to things like fostering, hoping to avoid the heartache of letting go. But that was our own broken view of love. Yes, you spend months of time, effort, energy and love to then hand them over to a hopefully ideal person, but that’s the point. We had to shift how we thought about love. You can’t hold onto love with an iron grasp, inwardly hoarding in desperate hopes to not lose it, it’s meant to be given away… Handing it out when we know we may not get it back. So yes, bring on the un-homed.