The Sprig Collective is made up of former employees of Melissa Joy Manning. Using the tools learned here, our former team members have started their own brands to express their art.
This week, we're highlighting one of our first additions, Smoke & Daggers, which is a two person brand run by Bob and Nikki in Austin, TX. Bob was our design assistant for years before leaving to begin his own label. They were kind enough to share a little about their work with us - enjoy!
When did you begin your career in jewelry?
Bob: I actually taught myself metal smithing so I could make pieces for Nikki early when we were dating, I battled with soldering for weeks but after a lot of trial and error I was joining whatever bits of metal I could get my hands on. My career in jewelry really started at MJM, Melissa gave me a chance and I will always be grateful for it. For five years I was Melissa’s design assistant; the work was challenging and I learned a ton. Melissa’s confidence in me then has stuck with me, there’s no project I shy away from and I welcome new jewelry challenges.
Nikki: I began learning how to solder in 2008, after cold connections and beading started to have its limitations. I had to learn to solder (even though the torch intimidated me) to work out the designs and projects swimming around in my head.
How did you get started with your business?
Nikki: It happened very organically! Experimentation, making stuff for ourselves, and then later taking on projects for friends- repairs, engagement rings. People spread the word and we keep on making stuff!
Bob: That’s really what it was; then and now, we give each project everything we can and it gets noticed- people tell their friends.
What aspect of your business are you most proud of?
Nikki: I’m proud we keep challenging ourselves in design and maintaining freedom to go where we want to. Right now we are the people that make the jewelry, take the photos, do our social media, website, promote and apply for shows... It’s challenging but I’m proud of what we’ve learned and accomplished... even if we fail sometimes! I also love working with sustainable materials! I’m proud of that!
What inspires you?
Bob: Inspiration is absolutely everywhere, the natural world, science, astronomy for sure. Science fiction, mythology, and learning a new technique even just spills open a flood gate of possibilities.
What is your favorite non-jewelry thing to do?
Nikki: Embroidery! They are totally different but I find one thing informs the other. I also love fossil hunting, beach combing, camping, swimming in rivers and being in nature.
Bob: Rock hunting, hiking, exploring Texas. I like to get into my sketchbook and do some abstra. And family time, our son just turned 5 and it’s blast exploring, cooking, looking at things under a microscope with him.
How do you want people to feel when they wear your jewelry?
Nikki: The highest compliment is when a piece becomes an everyday wear item. When you create something that really feels like you made something just for them and they never take it off.