Meander Works is a one-woman studio out of San Diego creating modern, environmentally inspired jewelry. Each piece is handmade from recycled metals.
Prepped for success
Marilyn Brogan, designer at Meander Works, was a pleasure to work with, and this project is a testament to how far a business owner’s dedication and belief in her work can take her. Marilyn came to us with three priceless assets that prepared her for success:
- A clear understanding of what makes her work stand out among other jewelry designers (handcrafted, responsibly sourced, worth every penny and good for your soul).
- Cohesive, evocative, beautiful product photography. We all fell in love with her jewelry as soon as we saw the photos, and I think Meander Works designs are on quite a few Aeolidia wish lists at the moment!
- A wonderful, almost poetic way with words that matches her jewelry and tells a story that gets the shopper involved.
Lest you feel discouraged, know that only #1 has to be your job. Once you have a handle on what makes your business uniquely itself, we have a talented photographer and copywriter on staff to help you with numbers 2 and 3!
Enough talk, let’s look at some pretty jewelry!
About Meander Works
I’m Marilyn Brogan and I’m the owner, maker, designer and curator of Meander Works. The woman behind the 1-woman studio, I began my art career amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains in my home state of Virginia. Starting at Virginia Commonwealth University in their highly acclaimed sculpture program, I continued my studies as a Core Student at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina where I fell in love with metalworking.
Metal is the best material – it’s so flexible and forgiving – truly a girl’s best friend!
After the Core fellowship I followed my passion, and a boy, across the country to sunny San Diego where I opened up shop on Etsy. There I sold prints of drawings made at our kitchen table, and a few 2-D pieces that helped me accumulate the equipment and fundamental tools I needed to build a home studio. Eventually, a few pieces of jewelry made their way onto Etsy and in 2010, I was able to move my workspace from our home to a beautiful rooftop studio that was once the piano bar of a historic hotel.
Now my jewelry is created in a room permeated by sunlight and replete with calm, where I can focus and dedicate myself to my craft. For inspiration, I’ve filled my studio with a lot of cacti and succulents, as well as small collections of rocks, shells and tree debris from my daily walks, which influence many of my designs.
My jewelry is really, truly, honestly handmade.
I believe that fine jewelry should be a work of art, not a mass-produced object cast and created by the thousands in the pursuit of profits. That’s why all of my work is shaped, soldered and polished by my own hands, so that when you purchase a piece, you know you have something made just for you. Each piece I create is made from raw materials and is done individually to ensure that every one is unique.
I am a proud member of Ethical Metalsmiths and I use reclaimed materials from reputable suppliers to be certain they don’t harm the earth or the people who work with them. When you buy from Meander Works, I want you to feel good knowing you have a high quality piece of consciously constructed jewelry, meticulously designed and made specifically with you in mind.
The logo process
Marilyn shared some jewelry sketches from her notebook early on. It’s always fun to peek in a designer’s sketchbook, and we don’t often get a look at the jewelry design process, so we wanted to share that with you, so you could see how it shaped the logo design.
Lauren designed Marilyn’s new logo and website, and here is a peek into some of the ideas that were considered. Lauren shared:
I have been loving working on your logo so much! You gave me such excellent inspiration to work with! (Almost too much good stuff!) I spent a lot of time soaking up your Tumblr, Etsy, Facebook and Pinterest images. And dwelling on your other logo inspirations and keywords: clean, elegant, feminine, curvy, could be modern or antique…timeless, minimalist, bold, unmistakeable, classic, clever.
Here’s what I’ve come up with to start us out! Here are six sketches—the ones on the left use modified fonts, and the ones on the right side are drawn. I took what I think is the most successful one (#3) and put it in context so we could see it in “the wild.” ;)
When discussing goals for the website, this back and forth between Marilyn and Lauren illustrates what we do for clients at Aeolidia:
Marilyn: “I’m hoping my website will help people fall in madly in love with my work and not feel the slightest hesitation to click the ‘buy’ button.
My dream is that the website will create a little environment for my work that reflects its personality…Overall I hope that the new website will improve my business by me feeling so proud of it that I want to share it with everyone I meet!”
Lauren: “Yes! I spent some extra time buffing and polishing all of the little details (while preserving some character and hand-drawn goodness) because I think user confidence is a big part of getting to that “buy now” moment. Taking the leap from Etsy, we really want to take this opportunity to communicate that you’re a committed artist and conscientious business owner, not a tinkerer! So, while I incorporated some design elements with a raw/sketchy feeling, the overall impression is super professional.”
On the importance of presenting yourself professionally
Marilyn shared this eye-opening story with me, that really gets at the heart of what Aeolidia can do for a business. Have you had an experience like this with your work?
“During my tenure at Penland I made a series of large scale drawings. In my previous (college / art school) experience, we were encouraged to “think outside the frame” so I got used to pinning pieces to the wall or pursuing some alternative means to display my work.
Every time I had the drawings critiqued by visiting artists or peers, the person giving the critique would encourage me to seek a framer. I resisted (I guess I thought that was a boring solution), but when I gave in, my drawings suddenly looked legitimate. It was like seeing them in formal wear! They looked so tight and so professional.
Essentially seeing my jewelry in the context of the new website is just like seeing my drawings framed. Wow!
Mind you, I used a great framer then and obviously the best web designers this go round!
The other thing that happened when I framed these drawings is that they sold! I am hoping that the website will give further legitimacy to my business (resulting in sales) in addition to providing a nice home for my jewelry.”
Quality photography and well-written copy are vital
Pay attention to her product photography. It’s big, it’s clear, it’s crisp. The colors and backgrounds are cohesive, meaning they match each other and look like a purposeful group. While lovely and unique, the background Marilyn has chosen doesn’t detract from or distract from the jewelry at all.
Now read some of her product descriptions and her about page. They are short and to the point, but instantly give you an idea of what Marilyn’s personality is like and help her stand apart from other jewelers. Example:
Named after the wispy clouds, my cirrus collection is also a tribute to my favorite inspirational book: A Field Guide to the Atmosphere. Oh yeah. I’m totally geeky like that. Luckily, art + science = really pretty earrings. They measure 3.5 inches long by 1.5 inches wide. Available in silver or black patina.
We have a new photographer and a new copywriter on our team, and I plan to show you some of their work soon. They are both top-notch at what they do, and if you’d like to talk with me about how we can take some of this work off of your plate and improve sales at the same time, please do get in touch.
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