Made by Malyia: Nature in Jewelry
Each piece created by Made by Malyia is inspired by nature. Transformative by design, Made by Malyia creates jewelry that empowers the wearer. Read our exclusive interview to explore what drives Made by Malyia’s innovative design journey.
Growing up in the Bronx, you taught yourself how to design at a young age. How does this still impact your design process and experience today? Can you speak to how you started teaching yourself as well?
At a young age I was always drawn to art and fashion, at the time I wasn’t aware that I was creating or designing. I was simply reimaging the things that I was inspired by around me. I would flip through a fashion magazine and then sketch my version of the fashion story with jewelry to match. This still impacts my design process and experience because I often spend time tapping into those moments that I had when I was younger. Reimaging things I see in nature or architecture, my medium now is jewelry. My curiosity for creating and designing is what led me to become a self-taught designer. I wanted to see a piece of jewelry that was popular at the time, a body chain in a new way. I designed what would become my first piece out of that curiosity and desire to create.
You call your customers “Jewels.” What does this mean to you, and how did you come up with this nickname for them?
Yes, I wanted my customers, or jewels, to be constantly reminded of their uniqueness and power. When I started this journey as a jewelry designer I remember how they supported me from the very beginning and I found that we had so much in common with the jewels found in the earth. We may go overlooked and undiscovered for long lengths of time but during those long stretches of time we never lose our value. We each have our own individuality and uniqueness.
What is the direction you are steering for your brand? What are your brand values, and where do you see it in 10 years?
I am currently working on creating two clearly distinguished brands, an aspirational line, my diamond collection and my attainable collection which will feature my demi fine and signature collections. My goal as a designer has always been to create pieces for a broad audience, I want my customers to grow with me. I want to experiment with new materials and precious gems. My brand’s values are to empower others through creating innovative designs that make them reflect and see their own power. In the next 10 years, I see the brand expanding into bridal, a store front and exclusive collections in partnerships with other major brands.
As a designer, what is the most important thing to keep in mind when in the creative process?
As a designer, the most important thing that I keep in mind when in my creative process is that it is ok not to be inspired all the time. I trust that when I am in my creative flow it won’t be forced and my best ideas have come to me when I was sleeping or allowing my mind to wonder. My creative process may look like I am on a trip to a new city, relaxing in a park or at the beach. Then I could see something that sparks a flood of ideas and I can’t stop sketching. I always try to leave room to allow my mind to create or wonder.
You are on the board of directors for the Black in Jewelry Coalition (BIJC). What inspired you to dedicate your volunteer time to this organization? What has been a personal highlight of working with BIJC?
When I started my journey as a jewelry designer, I hoped to find a community in the industry. When myself and the other board members, who each represent different professions in the jewelry industry, all came together to form BIJC the goal was to create community and conversations to help support other black professionals in the jewelry industry through an abundance of resources. As one of the two jewelry designers on the board it was important for me to volunteer my time and lend my voice. The industry has a long way to go when it comes to diversity, and I wanted to be a part of helping shape the future of the industry through my experiences to provide perspective and to advocate for the needs of talented designers and jewelry professionals that deserve visibility and opportunities.
Your pieces have been worn by various notable names, such as Issa Rae and Jazmine Sullivan. How has this impacted your brand? Who would you love to see wearing your pieces next?
I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many notable names very organically. It has impacted my brand tremendously, as a small and growing brand the cost of public relations is often out of reach. Stylist and costume designers that have put my jewelry on their clients have provided me with great exposure and visibility. It helps others discover my brand as well as add validity to the brand’s relevance in culture. I would love to see Rihanna, Beyonce and Niaomi Campbell wearing my pieces next.
The Soleil Pendant is so eye catching…we love it! What is the story behind this piece and the sunburst design?
Thank you, it is one of my favorite designs to date. For the Soleil Pendant I wanted to reimagine a sunburst. The sun and moon are constant sources of inspiration so I wanted a piece that captured the essence of the sun with a twist. The center is intentionally omitted so the wearer is reminded that although the sun shines brightly and sits in the center of our solar system, they themselves are their own sun. I want them to remember their own power. They can shine so brightly that the sun feels like the shade.
Thinking back on some of your earliest pieces, how do they compare to your current work? What was your favorite early design, and why?
My earliest pieces are similar in comparison to my current work in the sense that they also drew inspiration from nature. They differ in that I have evolved tremendously as a designer and have become more innovative in the ways that I explore my creativity and use of precious materials. My favorite early design is my Progression Hoop. I had a friend that was a celebrity stylist and he said to me that I needed a statement piece that could easily be identified as my design. At the time I didn’t have any earrings in the collection. The piece truly captured the elements I had hoped when reimagining the classic hoop. It featured 9 flat disks that gradually increased in size to show the evolution over time from one to a more progressive place.
How do you want your customers to feel when wearing your jewelry? How do you want your brand to be recognized in the trade?
My goal has always been to empower my customers through my designs. I have always aimed to create pieces that shined brightly and made the wearer shine more brightly. I want my customers to feel confident and most like their authentic selves. My designs are all intentional and draw inspiration from elements that are powerful sources of energy in nature like the moon or the sun. I want my customers to feel that sense of power and energy when they wear the pieces. I want my brand to be recognized for its authentic voice and innovation. It is important to me that my brand adds a new perspective to the trade and challenges the possibility of design.
Who have been the most important role models in your professional life? What is one piece of advice they imparted on you?
My mom, and my several mentors have been instrumental in my professional life. The one piece of advice that they have all imparted on me is that if I am patient but persistent I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. That has proven to be very helpful and accurate in my journey.
What is your personal mantra?
What belongs to me will simply find me. It reminds me that I can trust that what is for me is within arm’s reach and will find me.
Made by Malyia focuses on the natural inspiration from nature and transforms that inspiration into powerful and empowering designs, transferring that energy into the wearer.
To keep up with Made by Malyia’s designing journey and future collections, visit http://madebymalyia.com/ and follow @madebymalyia on Instagram.