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Maker Series: Laura Estrada

Maker Series: Laura Estrada
Welcome to the Jean Franklin Maker Series. A series that shares the women who inspire us and embody who Jean Franklin is and what we represent - a community of women who support and encourage each other to always fight harder and pursue our dreams each day. For our first Maker Series - Meet Laura.

There are certain people in life that you meet and think, "I know you" and whether or not you've met before, they feel familiar. It could be a past life love affair, a relatable resonate, but often times it's the truth that they're standing in. THEIR truth. This is Laura. We sat down and asked her where in her heart she moves from and what inspires the jewelry she makes.

Why did you decide to start your own jewelry line? 
I've been making things with my hands from a very young age and always knew I wanted to share my artistic vision with others. After somewhat accidentally stumbling across a metalsmithing course in college at the University of Georgia and falling irrevocably in love with the medium, I knew this was the path I wanted to take. I apprenticed with master jewelers in the field and focused on honing my craft, before moving to Los Angeles and managing a commercial jewelry company where I gained an understanding of the business side of the industry. With those experiences, I felt ready to start my own line and quit my job to make jewelry full time. Nothing makes me happier than working with my hands to create meaningful objects. 

Tell us a little bit about the jewelry and what inspires you?
The jewelry that I make is a reflection of my own personal experience and the way that I relate to and cope with the world we live in. My hope is that this sentiment can translate through the work and create a sense of empowerment and resilience in each individual that wears my jewelry. I come from a nomadic, eccentric, working class Guatemalan American family and making art always felt like a way to tell my story. I find inspiration from the elemental forms found in nature -  the moons seemingly perfect circle, the free flowing undulations of a riverbed, the porous indentions on a weathered rock face. My craft is equally informed by my study of art and architecture, from ancient symbolism to modern construction methods. I observe and absorb, and then I make. 
Why do you sell your jewelry as made to order
I sell my work made to order because it cuts down on material waste, down to the initial removal of metal from the earth. It also promotes the ideology of slow fashion and hopefully bolsters a sense of value in the craftsmanship and love put into handmade work. We all want things so immediately these days, instant gratification seems to be the priority. But the true fulfillment of waiting for a handmade piece that is being made specifically for you, there's something profound and enduring about that.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability to me means minimizing the impact I am having on the environment, while maintaining a social and economic awareness of the decisions I make as designer and business woman. I work with reclaimed and recycled metal as much as possible, saving scraps and unsuccessful projects to rework later on. My concetual work often utilizes found objects as main components, redefining the intrinsic value of a seemingly insignificant object. This concept is extremely interesting to me and a direction I want to further explore in my future collections.
How do you view clothing and it’s purpose in your life?
Clothing and style is a massively important part of my life, it is part of my identity. The clothes I wear, similar to the jewelry I make, inspire me and fill me with the confidence and strength I need to go out into the world every day and strive to be the best version of myself. As a person who struggles daily with anxiety and depression, my clothes and my jewelry often save me. They make me feel something, they are my armor. All my friends will say - I am the queen of thrifting. The joy I get from digging through bins of used clothes for that one life-changing gem is unparalleled. Almost all of my clothes are thrifted or vintage, although as I've begun to nestle into my place as a female designer in Los Angeles and really immerse myself in the community of empowered women creatives - my goal is to support these incredibly talented, hardworking women as much as I can.
What social issues are you most passionate about?
As an adult, I've always maintained a connection to children and feel a deep love and responsibility specifically for underprivileged and abused children. My home life as a child was not ideal and retrospectively I think if someone would have reached out and offered support, a lot of pain could have been prevented. I have worked with different organizations that help and mentor children, although to be completely honest I am not involved at the moment. I am going to change that. Feel free to reach out if anyone would like to join me in volunteering with children. 
Who’s your favorite artist?
Duchamp
Do you have any daily routines?
I really try to have a routine, and I often do. On a good day, I get up around 8am with my partner and we eat a light breakfast, take a language lesson on our mango app, then head to the track or a yoga class. I love exercising first thing, it really influences the way my day goes in a good way - I have more energy and focus as I head into my home studio to work on design, fabrication, marketing, shipping, the works. As a one woman venture, I am doing all aspects of the business myself (and with the help and support of my loving partner), so having systems in place and structure to the day is essential. I also love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, so this is usually the cap to my daily routine - a thoughtfully prepared meal with well sourced ingredients and a beautifully paired bottle of wine. 
What’s one of your biggest challenges you’ve faced (as a business owner or otherwise)?
Self doubt. As an anxious person who is also hard on myself, I often feel like I'm not doing enough, or I'm not doing it quickly enough. Or am I even doing the right thing? Am I on the right path? Am I even an artist? The spiral begins. I have to remind myself that it's all ok, things take time, enjoy the process and experience every moment. There is no right path, there are just many and they are all individually beautiful and worthwhile. 
What’s one of the biggest rewards?
The most rewarding aspect of being a maker is seeing the connection people have with the work that I make. Knowing that I can create something meaningful, an heirloom, something treasured, that will perhaps be passed down in the family - that is a gift.  
What brings you joy?
I find such a deep joy in traveling to other countries, doing my best to understand and honor these cultures, listening to their stories, and really contemplating on the significance of empathy and love for every living creature. 
  • Post author
    Amanda Singh