Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Chat with Susan Mayer of 74 Harley Street

Bio: Susan is a Kansas City based jewelry designer and busy mother to four boys. She repurposes beautiful or very unique (but old-fashioned or even partially damaged) vintage jewelry into modern, wearable pieces with a nostalgic soul. Her company, 74 Harley Street, was named for the address of her flat when she lived in London. Susan also does custom jewelry, updating family heirlooms, thrift-shop finds or creating personal pieces for brides. Her jewelry was featured in Faction Magazine Volume 5 in the editorial “Luxe Camping.” More information can be found at www.74harleystreet.com

Two of Susan's Vintage Skeleton Key necklaces, with sparkles and pearls, $65 each and a Rhinestone and Gold Flower hair clip, $16. From Faction Magazine Volume 5.

Faction Magazine: You have 4 boys, how do you even have time for a jewelry business?

Susan Mayer: Obviously, my days are too busy to sit and work, but when the house is quiet, usually after bedtime, I get out all of my goodies and get to work. It usually takes me a couple of hours of piddling around until the creative juices flow. I love it, so I enjoy the time (aka, the late nights) I spend on it.

FM: What are your inspirations for making your pieces?

SM: I get inspiration everywhere, especially out when I'm shopping for pieces. I see a piece and I either know right away what I want to do with it, or I hold onto it for months before it hits me. My mom's got a great eye and we collaborate a lot.

FM: Have you always had a passion for found objects/vintage pieces?

SM: I've always been sentimental about stuff in general; anything my family gave me, I kept and cherished. It's like these things have soul. And that's how I feel about these vintage jewelry pieces. They have a story, a history. They have soul and their wear shows it. I've always had a passion for jewelry, love the classic and statement pieces, but I try to stay outside of the trendy. The two (passions) have finally crossed paths, it's great!

FM: What area of work were you in before starting 74 Harley Street?

SM: My professional background was in marketing. It's what took me abroad to London. Since then, it's kids - 4 boys keep me very busy!

FM: I know you used to live in London, what did you do there?

SM: What didn't I do there? Jewelry...boy, if I did then what I do now, just imagine the goodies I could've picked up! I was living in Chicago and working at a marketing agency. I transferred to the London office. Lived at 74 Harley Street. After several years, I had my first son there and realized I wanted to be a full-time mom and move closer to family

FM: When did start 74 Harley Street and what goals do you have for your business?

SM: 74 Harley Street started several years ago as a creative endeavor on a different level. And then I took a break to be a mom. I felt like I had a point of view I could translate into jewelry and I love creating something that I can wear and enjoy! I've gotten a great response and that feeds my creativity. I'm currently in several boutiques in KC and I hope to continue to grow the business and expand regionally. Stay tuned!

FM: How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

SM: I design jewelry with vintage pieces - I love to add my own voice to these gorgeous old pieces, most of which aren't necessarily fashionable now the way they were intended to be worn. I give them new life and make them fun to wear. Plus, my stuff works day to night...great with a tee and jeans or dressed up for a party or gala. So fun!

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