Meet the designer: Interview with Ana Aguilar
01. How did you get your start in metalsmithing and how did your path lead you to where you are now?
I was a couple of semesters short of graduating from Business school during my Undergrad when I decided to change my major to Art knowing I didn’t want to join the corporate world. Someone told me about the Jewelry Design program and I immediately decided that’s what I wanted to do. I worked for a jewelry manufacturer and small jewelry shops till I decided to start my own business in 2015.
02. Where do you get your inspiration for your collections?
I’m constantly sketching, I carry a notebook with me wherever I go and build upon themes that are bouncing around in my head. When I sit down and gather my sketches I’ll find patterns, or rhythms that play out together and base a collection off of those ideas. It’s been interesting, from a personal perspective, watching the evolution of my line from year to year.
03. Is there anything new that’s been inspiring you these days?
Symbols, and how they were used and interpreted in ancient civilizations. Whenever I find myself drawn to a certain shape or image, I try and research its meaning to tap into my whatever my subconscious is trying to tell me.
04. Who are designers that you look up to?
Sofia Zakia, DMD Metal, Polly Wales, While Odin Sleeps…to name a few, there are so many amazing artists out there handcrafting their designs and bringing more meaning and intention back into this industry.
05. We know you do all your work using responsibly sourced metals and stones and ethical metalsmithing techniques (whoop whoop!), is this always something you’ve been passionate about?
I think it has developed more over time, realizing the gravity of the situation. The more informed you are about your industry, the better choices you can make to create positive change. I’ve gotten to a point in my career that I personally know my stone dealers, and feel empowered knowing what I am supporting in the world.
06. Do you have any advice you can give other jewelers and metalsmiths who are trying to follow ethical practices in this industry?
Be mindful of your practices and do your research. There are so many small steps that we can all take together to make a big impact.
07. Each of your pieces is handmade by you and you describe your jewelry as intimate. Can you tell us more about what makes your process so unique and what handmade means to you?
When I am consciously creating, I am in tune with the intentions this jewelry was designed to manifest. The stories that go into my designs are breathed into life by my own hands, preserving the integrity their meaning. For me, handmade is when you start from scratch and see your vision through! So much love and attention goes into handmade goods, and they should be seen as testaments of true craftsmanship.
08. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned in business so far?
To value myself. It’s easy to feel like your not doing enough, or that you could always be doing more, but at the end of the day you need to feel proud about where you are. Even if it’s not where you want to be, acknowledge the fact that you know what your worth, so you can keep moving forward.
09. Running a business isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your business and how do you/ have you worked through it?
Deciding to quit my job as a bench jeweler at a private shop and dedicate myself full time to my business was a scary time. There’s all this excitement and freedom, but then the pressure of performance and reality sets in and it’s easy to feel frantic about all the things that need to be done. I have to remind myself when things are stressful, how grateful I am to be doing what I love, and how supported I am, it helps when I’m overwhelmed.
10. Not only are you a badass boss babe, but you’re also a mom. How do you balance being a mom and owning your own business? What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
Being a momtrepreneur is a tough gig, but I’m grateful for the freedom it allows me. My studio is attached to my home and that can sometimes be a struggle, but I’m able to read my children a story and tuck them into bed every night. It’s a huge balancing act, and sacrifices have to be made on both ends at times. I did a year long stint at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and was practically MIA from the homefront, then made up for lost time when I took a few months off after having my second son.
11. Where can we find you on the weekends / when not working?
I like to joke and say I don’t have weekends because as an entrepreneur your week never ends. But enjoy making pancakes on Saturday mornings for my little ones, playing the drums in my garage band, practicing yoga, reading, and any type of daydreaming.