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Behind the bench with Stephanie

Questions With Creator of Metalicious

1. Hi Stephanie, please introduce yourself to the Silpada community!

Stephanie: Hi there! I’m Stephanie Maslow-Blackman, the CEO and head metalsmith at Metalicious. Jewelry is my true passion– I love creating work that brings beauty to my customers, that represents their milestones and brings them joy every time they wear it. I love to create the perfect piece of jewelry that tells their story.

I found jewelry-making by accident. About a thousand years ago (okay it was 1995) I had a boring job and was desperate for some creative challenges where I could use my hands. I took myself to the local art school but the pottery class I was interested in was full. Hmm. The only thing left was a metalsmithing class. So I hammered my heart out and have never looked back. I still have what looks like a tin-can I forged from copper sitting on my jewelry bench. It reminds me of how close I came to missing out on my true calling as a jeweler.

Since then I’ve done everything from buying gemstones to carving wax models to teaching jewelry classes. I started Metalicious in 2005 from a tiny workbench in a corner of my bedroom. Today I have my own jewelry studio in the Flatiron district in New York City where I have a wonderful team of artisans and creatives who I’m grateful that I get to work with every day.

On a personal note, I live in Chelsea with my husband Jeff, our two boys Asher and Oliver and our cats Fudge and Lionel (no, I did not name the cats). It’s been an adventure raising kids in the city where they go to Broadway shows and famous art exhibitions for school trips. I try to chaperone whenever I can! 

2. Walk us through your story. Where did you grow up? Any fun childhood memories?

I grew up in the middle of farm country in Sussex County, NJ. We had no neighbors except the cows from the dairy farm down the road. Most of my free time was spent catching frogs, taking things apart (sorry, Mom)  and reading in a little rowboat by the pond. My parents took us into New York City each December to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and I can remember how in awe I was at how big and bright everything was. There was so much to see, hear and do, it seemed like there were endless possibilities. As I grew up I would be pulled towards the city until I finally moved here in 1996. I’ve lived here for most of my life but I still love going back to my country roots and have taught my boys to catch frogs, launch rockets and have passed on my love for reading in rowboats.

3. We love how on your website you say, “You were desperate for a creative challenge,” one where you could use your hands. Can you tell us where that passion came from?

I’ve always loved seeing how things work. Whenever my Dad had to fix something in the house I would sit next to him for hours holding a flashlight so he could see– I was fascinated to think that every single thing had been made by someone’s hands. It turned into an obsession with learning how things work and taking things apart (and putting them back together– most of the time) and I realized that I really love using my hands to make things. To me, jewelry is like a tiny sculpture made from precious metal and gemstones.

4. How did you come to live in NYC? Does this city inspire or influence your designs?

I always wanted to live here, so after college, I got a job here and eventually found a tiny walk-up apartment that I could afford and moved in. I’m very influenced by the city– there is so much energy and excitement but also tiny pockets of quiet and peace. It’s fun to go to art exhibits and museums, I love any kind of theater (I may or may not play show tunes while I’m making jewelry), and I live near Hudson Yards– where I’ve been watching them build some incredible skyscrapers. My family and I ride bikes along the Hudson River on the weekends, it’s gorgeous to watch the sunset and eat ice cream in one of the riverside parks. I really love it here.

5. How did you decide to become a jewelry designer? Did you always know you wanted to work in jewelry or was this evolution?

As I mentioned above, I totally fell into it and became obsessed (you can never have enough jewelry). So I feel like jewelry chose me, not the other way around. I always wanted to have my own business. My Dad was an entrepreneur and owned a computer software company so I learned at an early age how much freedom it can give you. There is also a lot of pressure, too, but you learn to roll with it and create opportunities.

Stephanie's jewelry

6. How did you get into the jewelry industry? What has it been like watching your brand grow from a small beginning to a larger following?

I started by making a career change and worked for a small designer jewelry brand first. Then I worked for a large manufacturer who sent me all over the world to create jewelry collections for them. Once I had my son Asher, I didn’t want to travel so much and that’s when I decided it was time for me to open Metalicious. I started by making things during my son’s nap time and selling them at craft fairs on the weekends. My jewelry was much more simple with a lot of wire-wrapped gemstones because that was all I could make in the time that I had. As he got older I was able to spend more time carving models and setting stones so my work became more detailed and unique. After my second son, Oliver was born I had to have emergency back surgery when he was 4 months old. It was devastating because I had to hire someone to take care of him while I was healing. Between hospital bills and childcare, I had to make Metalicious work as a full-time job or work for someone else. My husband was really supportive and encouraged me to give it a try. We had enough in savings to last for 3 months– and that’s when Metalicious really started to grow. I was able to move my bench out of my home and into a studio, hire employees and start to build my brand.

I think back to that pivotal time and how important my family is to me– and how proud I am when they come to hang out at the studio or ask if I can make them something special. It brings me to tears when I think about how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked, and how I couldn’t have done it without their support.

7. How did you come up with your name, Metalicious?

I’m a nerdy English major who loves playing with words and nicknames. My cats each have about 20 different nicknames. So when I was brainstorming about business names I kept going back to the idea that beautiful jewelry is so delicious. And it’s made from metal so…. Metalicious!

8. How would you describe your personal jewelry style?

I’d say it’s laid back and not fussy. I like high-quality jewelry that I can put on leave on. Most days I wear silver hoops, some layered necklaces, and my non-traditional wedding ring stack. Then I can layer on other pieces depending on what I’m doing at night.

9. What is your favorite piece of jewelry that you own and why?

My favorite piece is my initial monogram necklace because it’s unique and stunning but still low key and goes with everything. 

10. What’s your favorite piece from your collection(s) for Silpada?

That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! LOL. I love them all. The texture of The Seashell Collection came out exactly as I imagined and the Sunstones themselves are like bursts of sunlight. And The Sunburst Collection reminds me of the beach when I’m the most relaxed and blissed out- plus Larimar is so dreamy! I can’t just choose one. 

11. What has influenced your design style? What inspires you these days? 

I love this question! I think my inspiration comes from my travels and experiences in my life. I work through my emotions by creating jewelry. For example, when I had my kids I started creating birthstone jewelry – it was a way to carry them with me wherever I go. Jewelry is a physical way to represent an emotion or milestone-  everyone has a story that goes along with their jewelry. Part of my job as a designer and metalsmith is to translate it into these personal talismans. So it all kind of goes into my creative blender and comes out as fine jewelry.

12. What inspired your designs for your collaboration with Silpada?

Each piece in The Sunburst Collection represents joy, warmth, and strength.

The inspiration for this collection is the power of the sun like a burst of sunlight that can power through clouds on a rainy day this collection of jewelry will bring you joy as you wear or gift it. The silver is sculpted with a highly textured finish to represent the rays of the sun – similar to the sparkly flash of golden light that radiates from within each Sunstone. Sunstone is a stone of abundance, independence, and leadership.

The Seashell Collection represents peace calm and bliss. The inspiration for this collection are the seashells and teal blue water at the beach. With summer coming to an end, I want to hold onto that feeling of zen I get as I listen to the ocean waves. Wearing pieces from this collection will help keep it close and get me through the fall and winter months. Each piece from The Seashell Collection features a modern tiny silver turbo or nautilus shells. Larimar is a stone of serenity, communication, and relaxation.

Be the first to see these collections when they launch 8/26!

13. What are your favorite materials to work with and why? 

I love silver. It’s soft enough to work out design ideas with but hard enough to wear it every day. I love that it can be shiny or oxidized to bring out details, and the color silver goes with any color gemstone. It’s a win-win metal!

14. What do you hope people take away from your designs?

I hope their jewelry brings them joy every time they look at it. That they know how much love and care went into their piece to make it just for them. And I hope they fall in love with it all over again each time they take it out of their jewelry box to wear it.

15. Why is it so important for the community to support artisans?

I personally buy artisan-made whenever I can. I love getting something that’s been made by hand with love and intention behind it. I’ve bought benches, tables, artwork, clothing, jewelry, shoes, music, poetry books, toys, etc., etc. from other artists.

I support artists because they are the innovators. They create jobs within their community. They spark creativity, joy and encourage me to dream big. I look for artists who move me and support them as much as I can. I saw this quote about entrepreneurs and it’s the same for artists: “When you support an artist, an actual person does a happy dance.”

16. What do you love most about Silpada as a brand?

Silpada shares so many of Metaliciouscore values: sustainability, high quality, eco-friendly and ethical business. As a customer, I love the sense of fun and fashion that comes together in each piece. 

17. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to be a jewelry designer?

Each person is different so each business will be different. Don’t ever copy someone else’s designs, it is unethical and it comes across as inauthentic. Believe in your own creativity and let it come through in your designs. Work hard, be honest and always connect with your customers.

– Stephanie

Check back to find out more about Stephanie and our collaboration with her for Artisan Month. Follow @SilpadaDesigns on Facebook and Instagram and @Metaliciousjewelry for updates, weekly sales, chances to win free jewelry and more!

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