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Posts tagged ‘jewelry design’

How She Does It: Ifrah Shahid Khurram

IMG-20181026-WA0009Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Pakistani mother artist and amazing jewelry designer Ifrah Shahid Khurram, currently residing in Canada. Ifrah has been featured in She Canada as a she-preneur of the month. Lets have a chat with the designer and explore the ebb and flow of her success story!

Hi Ifrah! Please tell us about yourself, your work, and your family.
Hello dear moms! I’m a busy mom of two beautiful girls, ages 9 and 5. I’m a home economics graduate and run the jewelry design business American Diamonds in Ontario, Canada. I love to play with colors and shapes to create and customize pieces. Today we are one of the best jewelry brands serving the Pakistani and Indian communities in Canada, featuring formal and bespoke bridal jewelry.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I belong to a typical Pakistani family, where dad wants you to be a doctor and mom wants you to learn cooking. So naturally I imagined myself as a doctor. But in my spare time I would find myself painting or hunched over some craft project I had either picked up from kids time on TV or created on my own. I even used to split my earrings into pieces to create more originative ornaments.

diamondsWhen did you explore yourself as an artist?
While I was super crafty throughout my childhood, I viewed at my creativity as a hobby and never thought of it as a career. Just after I moved to Canada, three years into my marriage and after my first child was born, I went into a career in the retail sector. To be honest I enjoyed in retail. I excelled and was content.

But life took a small turn after we had our second daughter. Initially, I took maternity leave, thinking I’d go back to work after things settled down. But with each passing day, my confusion about whether to leave my kids behind for work on days when my husband was home or drop them at day care when we were both at work — or quitting work and staying at home — multiplied. Eventually, I chose to stay at home and give my daughters the best early years.

Honestly, it wasn’t easy. I had been quite ambitious and focused throughout my career. While living far from my family of origin and not having any sort of domestic help, raising kids and fulfilling household responsibilities was a tough row to hoe.

IMG-20181026-WA0000-COLLAGEI found some time to myself when our older daughter started school. During those hours I explored various ways to stay busy other than housework. I was in search of a career that would allow me to look after my kids at the same time. My love for creativity and crafting jewelry returned when I helped a friend market her jewelry. It was challenging. With Almighty Allah’s help and my husband’s constant support and encouragement, we faced deadlocks and losses but persevered.

How has being a mom affected you as an artist?
I often found myself at sixes and sevens when I had both kids and work to take care of. Time and again I felt guilt-ridden and frustrated by work pressure and household responsibilities. I thought of quitting multiple times. During the transition my husband supported me to the fullest, showing me the brighter side of every negative thought that popped into my head. Gradually, the kids and I settled into a routine. I dedicated my unclaimed hours to work, which were mostly after putting kids to bed. I learned to manage time, home, and kids together.

My little one has seen me working since the day she started recognizing me as her mom, so she’s pretty comfortable with my work schedule, and I’m happy with it. With the grace of Almighty Allah, our perseverance has helped achieve some of our goals, but there is still a long way to go, InshaAllah!


What keeps you inspired to create every day?
Being a designer, I’m inspired about the stuff around me. The weather, a flower, a piece of cloth, an animal, or even food can click an idea. I’m also in love with Pakistani fashion and look for inspiration in the latest trends and designs.

aa05dbbf2391a5d5bb5344f91cfd6be3d2f0af8f_111Which part of the day makes you feel most energetic and creatively driven?
I love it when I see a customer proudly wearing a piece of our jewelry with a smile on her face. The unique sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes with being an entrepreneur greatly surpasses all the challenges that come with it.

How do you think your struggle and success as a mom would influence your kids?
I haven’t gone to a single exhibition without taking my kids along. I believe parents’ hardships and success make an everlasting impression on kids. Watching their parents struggle and ultimately succeed help them follow their own dreams. They learn to cope with disappointments and hardships. At present, my daughters want to be jewelry designers like their mom, and the feeling is absolutely out-of-this-world.


What is one strength that helped you make your mark?
One strength I always count on is my ability to get along well with others. My easy-going temperament and service orientation have helped me succeed.

What is your key to staying positive in challenging situations?
Challenges are inevitable. We have to face them no matter which field we work in. I’ve learned that while facing a challenge, remember to take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, dream big, believe in yourself, and put forth your best efforts into achieving your desired goals.


Tell us about your latest project.
Currently I am working on our SS19 bridal collection. My inspiration behind it is a “perfect bride.” To me, the perfect bride is someone who carries herself with a positive self-image. I want to design sparkling jewels that celebrate not only the big day, but the bride herself.

Who are your favorite artists/designers?
Some of the designers I’m highly inspired by are Art by Misbah, Shafaq Habib, and Deeya.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I envision having a storefront in Canada and expanding our delivery services worldwide, as currently we cater only to clients in Canada and the US.

Any advice for aspiring mom artists who might be on the verge of giving up?
The key to being who you want to be is consistency. While you’re busy working on your dream, stumbling blocks may delay what you’ve given your blood, sweat, and tears to. This phenomenon is natural. Be determined. Consistency will turn the tide in your favor.


Ellie: One Crafty Mother

I’m Ellie, mother to two kids aged 7 and 4. I’m a jewelry designer, blogger and I love writing. I sell my jewelry on Etsy, which has worked well for me. When I’m not chasing my kids around, making jewelry, or writing, I love to read. I have been designing and selling jewelry for the past two years, specializing in wire wrapping. I started a blog last May, thinking I would just dabble in it, and it I love the creative process of writing a few times a week. I am also a woman in recovery from alcoholism — sober over two years now — and my writing and jewelry making is a HUGE part of my recovery. It helps me stay in touch with my creative muse and gives me peace of mind. I love this community, and I’m looking forward to learning more about everyone!

[Editor’s note: You can follow Ellie at Twitter via @onecraftyellie!]

Breakfast with Thea

I know you’ve all been having hunger pains, what with so many weeks elapsing since our last Breakfast installment — so you’re sure to enjoy meeting Thea Izzi, jewelry designer, blogger, and single mother. Thea is a dear old friend of mine from high school, and she recently moved from San Fransisco back to the Boston area. She sent me her interview responses more than two months ago and I’ve been totally delinquent in posting. (Thea is too modest to note in her interview that she earned her BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design and won a Fulbright to study jewelry making in Italy, so I’ll do that for her.) Enjoy!

tniCC: Please give us an intro to who you are, what you do, and your family headcount.
My name is Thea Izzi and I’m a jewelry designer, artist, and metalsmith. I am a single mother of one beautiful 2.5-year-old boy named Edan. We just moved to the Boston area from the SF Bay Area a few weeks ago!

CC: Tell us about your jewelry design and how your work has evolved. Any other creative pursuits?
It’s always difficult to answer this question because I feel so often that my work and ideas come out of nowhere. My inspiration comes from basic geometric shapes in nature and architecture and repeated patterns. It’s what feels good to me. My process is about playing and discovering new ways of engineering or putting together interesting parts in a simple yet aesthetically pleasing way. What is produced tends to mirror a much deeper connection to rhythm, balance, and feminine energy. Usually it is someone else who is drawn to the force of energy around a certain design and points it out before I notice it as more than just a really nice thing to wear. Even though I would like to explore making work that is deliberate in expressing my deeper connection to and interest in what I would describe as the divine feminine archetype, my work of late has been jewelry that’s purely for fun and fashion and affordability. That has been both from necessity and desire to work with new materials (rubber). The outcome is a body of work that could be described as “urban tribal,” which I guess, does, in its own way reflect a modern feminine (and masculine) archetype idea.

EarthtonesPinCC: Making a living from fulltime creativity obviously adds a huge amount of pressure to your creative life. Do you love what you do, even though it’s your “job”?
That’s a great question to ask me right at this moment because I have now been studio-less for two weeks and my business is essentially shut down until I find a place to set up again. I am at once relieved to not be under so much pressure but also missing my time at the bench, which I have not had for a few months because of all that it took to move.

So the short answer is YES, I love what I do and having a job based in creativity is essential to my well-being but the stress of running a business has stunted my creative growth and motivation. I am now searching for a better way to make a living as I restructure my life; work and home. It may mean working for someone else for awhile or getting a job at a company as a designer but that will likely be temporary because what I do is who I am…an artist and my purpose in this life is clearly to create and express through artistic mediums.

Singing and dancing feed my need for self-expression as well as making jewelry. They are the other great talents I was born with.

CC: What prompted you to start a blog? What keeps you going?
My blog is a new addition to my web 2.0 networking efforts! I resisted for a long while as journal writing in general has always been an uphill challenge for me—but I have found blog writing surprisingly rewarding and easy. The most difficult part is making time to do it. My motivation is definitely rooted in “business marketing and branding” but my approach has been to be real and honest about who I am and what is happening in my life. This helps ME to be clear about my goals and identity. It also draws in would-be customers because they have a “story” about me, the artist. That is SO important in marketing handmade art.

Thea@bench2CC: You’re in the process of moving right now, but tell us about your studio in SF. What will you be looking for in your new creative space?
TI: As I write this I am in the process of searching for a studio space. While without one I am deeply appreciating the one that I had and realize how much it feeds my identity. No surprisingly because it represents MY space. No part of my living space now or in CA belongs anymore to just me. It is all shared with my sweet 2.5-year-old roommate!

What I am looking for as I search is as much space and light as possible. I like an uncluttered environment as well. I would like to be in a building with other working artists as this is something I was missing in my last situation. I like working alone but that can easily turn in to isolation if there are no opportunities for socializing. I think having other artists around would especially good for me being a “newbie” in town.

CC: Now that you’re shifting your work life, will you still maintain a schedule for your creative work?
In short, yes. I did not plan it as scheduled creative time but I took advantage of the spring season of classes starting at RISD and signed up for Adobe Illustrator to improve my computer-aided jewelry design skills. Now I HAVE to schedule time for the homework which I am finding to be very satisfying creative work. It also seems that the prospect of making income from creating my own jewelry is still BETTER than that of getting a “job” so as soon as I find the studio…creative work begins again. Will I be able to schedule it? Maybe not but the Universe’s plan for me clearly includes being creative no matter what else I try to plan.

Rubber O- RingsCC: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
Hmm. Not sure, at first thought. I think more about what I could design or create for children. My son particularly likes my new rubber jewelry with magnetic clasps. He has showed me how well the entire collection looks attached to the refrigerator. I guess I think creatively in terms of what is FUN.

CC: From my own experience, being a single parent can sometimes magnify the challenges of being a creative mother. What are your challenges in being a single mother as well as an artist? What are the advantages?
Challenges: Sigh. The selfish part of that answer is that I have almost no time left for myself right now. That’s why this has taken so long to get to you, M! It’s been stuck at the bottom of the priority list. I pulled it up this morning out of sheer frustration that NOTHING on the to-do list today looked any fun at all.

One HUGE and direct example of my daily challenges right now is that I am, as a single mother with no child support, eligible for financial assistance from the fed/state government for child care, health care, and more but as a self-employed person I must prove my income (or lack thereof) and work schedule in several different formats which is exhausting and time consuming. I then have to reprove it 2-4 times a year depending on the program. Some of the vital documents I need are in a box on a truck due to arrive in weeks. Sigh again.

CIMG5815Advantages: Let me get back to you in a few years on that. Hopefully my son will learn that it is possible to be successful doing something he loves. Hopefully he will see me being HAPPY doing something I love. I think he gets that dancing pretty much makes me ecstatic and that I love to sing and that I make some cool stuff you can wrap around your wrist or put over your head but I don’t know yet how he integrates that information.

CC: Where do you find inspiration?
Architecture, patterns, flowers, electronic music, and mostly by playing and experimenting with existing “parts” on my bench.

CC: The West Coast seems to place a lot of emphasis on the mind-body connection. What are your own feelings about how physicality influences creativity?
I 100% agree with the mind-body connection theory. I am most alive, free, and pregnant with ideas and the most aware of my intuition when I am regularly dancing and moving my body.

CC: What are your top 5 favorite blogs?
Oy. I really just started the public blog thing. I don’t know too many but so far I enjoy reading Lydia Kirtchthurn’s blog Lydia Oh Lydia.

CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
Hot springs… natural outdoor CALIFORNIA hot springs. I am going to cry now. Well, hand me a fresh warm croissant and I’ll be OK.

CC: What are you reading right now?
Ha ha ha! Read? We are currently reading anything by Eric Carle. I would LIKE TO BE reading Michael Pollan, Eckhart Tolle and more….mostly non-fiction subjects on human potential and our evolution to a new paradigm.

IMG_2615CC: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
Don’t give up on being a creative person. Listen to your intuition not what other people have to say about what you “should” be doing now that you are a mother. If nothing else there is always time to DANCE and BREATHE! The rest will follow.

CC: Thank you, Thea! Please give us an update when you find a moment!

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