SalMiel: Raw Perfection
Designed to bring the human element back into everyday products, SalMiel embraces the raw and imperfect aspects of jewelry design. Handmade in New York City, each piece mirrors the edginess of the city, creating something cool and wearable for everyone, regardless of gender. Here, Pietra Communications sits down with SalMiel founder and designer, Yvette Cortez, to learn more about the story behind the brand.
Your pieces have an edgy, raw, and unique design. Is there any specific era or artist that helps inspire this aesthetic?
When I first started, I was heavily influenced by Alexander Calder and his use of brass. He used this medium to express beauty and elegance. The way he manipulated base metals and transformed them into pure masterpieces has inspired me for years. Metal was his love language. I could get lost in the world of Calder.
Tell us about the first piece you created. What was it and where is it now? What was the most recent piece you designed? How has your style changed in between?
I started off doing intricate hand chains over ten years ago. My next real piece was a silversmithing piece I created at a Metalsmithing studio in Brooklyn. I still own it and I keep it as a reminder of how inspired and in love I was with beginning this craft. I recently moved into CAD design and incorporating 3D printing to save on cost and time. My style changes as I have learned new techniques and deepened my craft.
You describe your designs as “a reflection of recent inspiration;” what do you find inspires you most?
I lived in New York for over 10 years, so it is a city that is a huge source of inspiration. I am inspired by the places I am able to travel to, and the art that is around me. Anything from architecture, materials like petrified wood, or nature. The people I love inspire me too. I do my best work when I am creating and collaborating.
Jewelry is typically not a “one size fits all” type of industry. What led you to go against the grain and create unisex pieces?
I tend to create pieces that are reflective of the moment. Over the years I participated at markets or other pop-ups so that I could interact with my customers. These community connections have been crucial in shaping my inventory offerings.
Tell us a bit more about your start in jewelry design. What made you switch from working in luxury retail to creating your own brand?
Working in retail required that I connect with people who loved fashion and find ways to make them feel good in what they wore. I enjoyed the feeling of connecting a customer with a piece of jewelry or clothing that would bring them years of joy.
When making jewelry, do you tend to have an exact idea of the design before creating each piece?
My early design work was more focused on self-expression. Over the years, I invested a lot of time in training and tools. Now that I’ve had more formal training, my process is more sophisticated and I’m able to engage my clients to work with concepts and stories for custom pieces.
Which do you find more challenging, creating your own designs, or creating custom designs?
Custom designs are fun because the customer puts their trust in your design eye and style. I love working closely with my clients. I also hope to collaborate more with local artists and brands.
Which of your designs are your favorites to create and why?
Currently, I love creating with CAD design. I enjoy that it is challenging, but when I’m able to go from concept to product, it is very satisfying.
Spreading awareness for Black Lives Matter and activism is prevalent on your social media. How do you plan to continue spreading awareness through SalMiel?
It is important for me to stay connected with my community. I would not be where I am if it was not for the community that has embraced me and my art. It’s important for me to use my platform to amplify important messages and highlight the great work of various organizations.
Can you tell us a bit about your Latin culture? How has it shaped who you are as a person, as well as how has it shaped your work?
Our summers and winter breaks were filled with road trips in Texas and Mexico. Going to Mexico as a kid helped me appreciate the life my parents worked so hard for, and how they had to create opportunities they didn’t have. With that comes an immense pressure to be successful. I am so lucky to have had parents that embraced anything I wanted to pursue. My mother always said “whatever you want to be, just be the best of it.”
What does the future look like for SalMiel?
Salmiel was born because I found a creative outlet and nurtured it. I returned to school to expand my skills and knowledge in entrepreneurship. I would love to continue growing Salmiel and have my brand create opportunities and fair paying jobs. My ultimate goal is to do what I love and to be able to sustain myself and my community through this love of art and design.