Almost 22 years ago, I walked into the most beautiful store on First Avenue for a job interview. I had just returned from touring a play that had travelled all across Canada and Australia, I was back home in Seattle and needed a day job. My best friend was nannying for a family in Mt. Baker and had mentioned I was looking for work. They referred me to their dear friend’s new business, flora and henri, and the rest is history! Ha! Little did I know when I sat down for that interview that I would work for this company for 22 years, traversing the trials and tribulations of small business, retail and production, and develop a life long friendship with the woman sitting across from me. Over the years, I have done nearly every job in the company, from sales floor to wholesale, from trunk show faciliator to production developer and manager to buyer to handling social media. I have sourced buttons and ribbon from all over the world, established and maintained relationships with fabric makers and factories near and far (Canada, Nepal, Italy, Switzerland, Madagascar, China, and Boliva).
And then, in 2010 while on maternity leave with my second child, I started making jewelry. I had some ideas (my designs are always based on something I want to wear, but can't find) and started sourcing materials, taught myself some skills via trial and error and put together a few necklaces and bracelets. Upon my return to work, Jane loved them and asked me if I would want to sell any at flora and henri, since we had just started expanding our product selection. I was so honored. Hence, OR Jewelry (the initials of my two sons, Otto and Rowan, along with the double meaning of 'gold' in French) was born. It's been a very cool outlet for me-I really love making something that you can wear everyday and endow it with whatever meaning you need so you always have that talisman in your daily life.
Who or what inspires you? Where do you find inspiration?
I find so much inspiration from the act of creating itself. It’s such an interesting thing how energy begets energy and I think this is true for me on a lot of levels, but especially creative work. I come up with some of my best ideas while doing some intricate beading on a necklace. There is something meditative in the repetition that then frees another part of my self and ideas flow through.
I also get so inspired by my family—we are all ‘makers’-my husband Aaron is constantly generating, whether it’s ink drawings or relief prints or sculptures or music. My oldest son, Otto, is such an imaginative thinker, story teller, performer and musician and my youngest son, Rowan, is a really talented visual artist and dancer. There are times in our house where it's like a hive of mad scientists! Also, because my background and training is in theatre, live performance always gets me excited. Whether it be theatre or music. There is something about the energy in a space when something live is happening in real time in front of you—all that collective creativity. It changes the vibrations in the air!
One of my first and forever favorite jewelry designs-the mirror ball necklace
I recently wrote and performed a short theatre piece entitled 'The Treading' with my old friend Mark Boeker (pictured above). We performed it at 12MM at Base Art Space and will be expanding on it to do a longer form version this year--stay tuned!
Aaron photographed with some of his sculpture orbs during a first Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square.
A highlight of the past 3 summers--Otto playing percussion in the Seattle Rock Orchestra at the Moore Theatre.
A recent drawing by Rowan-his favorite thing to draw are eyes.
Each summer the guys and I go to see theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The combination of great theatre and the beautiful surrounding landscape of southern Oregon fills me up every time.
What can you not live without?
A good book to read! It is truly my salvation in this crazy world. I read a lot and a wide variety. From poetry to personal essay to fiction to biography. So, I guess words are a big inspiration for me, too. Currently, I am deep into Rebecca Solnit’s Recollections of My Nonexistence. I love everything she writes. Call Them by Their True Names is another incredible read of hers.
And, she recently wrote this smart, beautiful article in the Guardian
When are you most happy and in balance?
I love down time with my brood. And if we can have unscheduled time together in nature, even better. A couple of summers ago we rented a little cabin on Orcas Island and had such a blast-everyday was a hike of some sort, followed by a jump into the cold waters of Cascade Lake. We cooked amazing meals with local oysters and roasted vegetables right out of the garden, desert was always sun warmed blackberries from the backyard. I fell asleep every night in the happiest fatigued state of being ‘played out’.
The view from the top of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island.
We hiked up to the top of Mount Constitution and then back down-8 miles roundtrip. This is a photo of us when we finished the hike.
Then we jumped into Cascade Lake!
The lovely garden that was the source of our vegetables while on Orcas.
What has this time during 'Stay Home, Stay Safe', social distancing been like for you and your family?
It's been challenging. Every one of us has had a huge range of emotions. And every day there is different information, demanding different actions from us all. The boys are having to 'school from home' (I refuse to call it home schooling, because that would imply that I was running the curriculum-and if I was in charge it would be art class all day everyday!), along with me working from home. I feel a lot of pressure. To keep them on track and motivated, as well as being in tune to their emotional needs. And my own concerns and worry about the world at large, as well as working on anything helpful to keep flora and henri afloat during this unprecedented time. I feel pulled in a lot of different directions and can feel like a ping pong ball some days. Some days are better than others. I read something recently where the person wrote, "our best gets to change everyday" and that really struck me. I'm thinking about that a lot. I've found myself being very quiet and internal, sitting with the discomfort instead of trying to run away from it or problem solve it. The silver lining has been cooking all together and watching movies almost every night.
A day in the life of working and schooling from home-this one sums up the chaos -so glad we have a giant table to encompass all the demands.
If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Currently, one of my greatest hopes is that we all will be able to travel again...Jane and I were just in Antwerp in January after we had been at Maison et Objet. With all that has happened since, it feels like a lifetime ago… But I loved that city so much and would love to go back and explore it further. There is a great ‘liveability’ (is that a word?) to it—and culturally it is so rich—wonderful architecture, interesting shops, everyone is on bikes and very few people had their attention solely locked on their phones. I know that sounds funny, but it was so noticeable! There truly seemed to be a more grounded, thoughtful pace to life. I also can't help noting that our time in Antwerp was made all the more marvelous because we were there to simply wander and discover. It was a very special time for Jane and I to be able to connect and brain storm without the distractions of our daily lives.
The train station in Antwerp
a sweet cafe
Cathedral of Our Lady Antwerp
Shopped at the wonderful Graanmarkt 13
Experienced an unforgettable meal at the restaurant of Graanmarkt 13.
The bar at the Hotel August--a former Augustinian convent, now a modern sanctuary, designed by Vincent Van Duysen.
The lounge at the Hotel Julien
Jane and I love a good, long meal, so this message felt like it was out there just for us!
Winter florals at Baltimore Bloemen.
Nello & Patrache Statue by artist Batist Vermeulen
Favorite item in the store?
I am obsessed with the Paola Paronetto vessels that have just arrived. Jane and I went to Paris in January to attend Maison et Objet and not only were her pieces such stand outs, but the women that were working her booth were so engaging and charismatic. It was so cool to work with them to put together a grouping that was dynamic and beautiful. That is one of the most incredible parts of my job—the people that we work with from artists, to vendors, to representatives to fellow colleagues at f&h! Okay, but back to Paola Paronetto’s work—I really adore that these are both form and function—they are both art object and vessel (fully water tight so you can use them as vases or planters).
Years from now you will be…?
I have this vision of myself with time —I have always sort of had an uneasy relationship with time, always worried there wasn’t enough of it, that I have too much to do, that it’s all going by too quickly…(I've always said I need 8 days in a week, 36 hours in those days-there is just so much I want to do), so I like to envision a future with an easier relationship to time. I love to think of me being in my house, working on an assortment of projects, circulating from one to another: writing, painting, reading, making jewelry. Music always playing, water always on for a cup of tea, door always open for a dear friend to walk through, arms always ready for an embrace.
If you are interested in seeing more of Amy's beautiful jewelry pieces you can click HERE to shop them all on our webshop!