Erin McDermott’s love of jewelry-making started young – really young. At four years old, her mother had a glass fishbowl in the kitchen to keep all sorts of random items – anything that didn’t have a “home,” from sea glass, to marbles, leather buttons, spools of thread, and wooden beads. The toddler-aged Erin would sort through to find her favorite items and then spend hours threading various treasures on leather cords to make necklaces.
“I once heard that you should think about what you really enjoyed doing as a child and that is what you are destined to do…I think that was it for me,” she explains.
Now, all these years later, Erin runs her own business from a studio attached to her home and her real passion is effused in all she does. She’s as excited to share her jewelry as she is to sit down and do the hard work of making it.
The studio is a sleek, stylish space where finished pieces are displayed right alongside the process: heaps of beads, leather, gems, and thread. Each day, once she gets her two little ones up and ready, she walks right over from the house, and from there her days are filled to the brim with everything from administrative work to meeting with clients, working with brides to design bridal jewelry, knocking out wholesale orders, and preparing for shows. At the same time, she has her customers coming in and out all day to shop. As busy as it gets, Erin says other than being with her young family, there’s really nothing she likes more.
Describe your process.
I typically start with an image of shapes in my head. I’m not one for sketching out an image first, I like to just play around with the actual beads, wire, metal and stones to see if anything comes of it. I let the jewelry evolve into what works best, so I might start with a unique coral stone and in my mind see it as an earring, but as I begin to work with it I’ll realize that it better fits as a necklace, for example.
Where do you find inspiration and new ideas?
Finding inspiration has changed since having children. My girls have taught me to slow down and really take a look at things in a different way. A child notices the color of a small ladybug in the grass, a reflection of a shiny stone in the sand, the shape of a leaf, the texture of a paintbrush, the personality of a sock, and the rainbows inside bubbles. I love to embrace these observations and use them to create artistic visions for my jewelry.
Do you see your two girls becoming part of the business one day?
Oh absolutely! Without a doubt. My husband always jokes that I’m probably going to keep them from going to school in exchange for free labor! Coco (my 2 year old) already swaggers into the studio like she owns the place. She loves to try on all the jewelry and is just now beginning to string larger beads on string. Georgia (my 8 month baby) is about as laid back as they come, so I’m hoping she’ll just ease into the daily hustle and bustle that surrounds the studio each day.
How do you think your style fits into the Charlotte market?
I think that women here in Charlotte can really identify with my jewelry. I aim to design jewelry that can be worn out running errands, after a yoga class, cocktails with friends, at work and hopping around town. I also make transitional pieces that can be worn from day to night. I love for the same piece that you’re wearing in the morning carpool line to be able to take you to a black tie event in the evening. I feel like so many of us women in Charlotte fill our days completely and don’t have much time to think about what we are wearing.
What’s the very best part about what you do and what’s the biggest challenge?
I’ll start with my biggest challenge: It’s most definitely balancing work and family time, and to be honest, sometimes it gets mixed together. I definitely haven’t figured it out yet and feel like there isn’t enough time for either. At the end of the day, if my husband is proud of me and my two girls know that they are my world, I think that I’m doing alright.
Okay, now for the fun stuff.
What is your other favorite type of accessory, besides jewelry?
My go-to’s are a chambray shirt, converse sneakers, and lip gloss.
Do you make men’s jewelry?
I made my husband’s wedding band and on the inside of the band I engraved “PUT ME BACK ON.”
What’s it like when you spot your jewelry on someone around town?
It’s the coolest feeling to spot my jewelry around town – I always want to run up to the person and give them a big hug and thank them for wearing it. My favorite part is seeing what type of outfit they style the jewelry with.
Is there one piece of jewelry you just couldn’t live without/never take off?
I’m a big believer in jewelry that brings a little luck so I have a gold wishbone that I love, and I always like to wear my lucky elephant!
www.erinmcdermott.com and firstname.lastname@example.org