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Meet Our Creatives - Marissa Irwin Tassel Earrings

· MYO Team

1. So, tell us a little about you.

Hi there! My name is Marissa Irwin and I’m originally from a small coastal town on the east coast of the United States. I studied abroad in London 6 years ago and absolutely fell in love with the diversity of the city and attitude of Londoners and more broadly, Europeans, apply to living their everyday life. That summer I was very fortunate to land a fantastic internship, which eventually led to a full-time job and a 1-way ticket back to London upon graduating from university.

2. What’s your story? Tell us a little about your background and what you do.

I work in financial services by day and spend the majority of my evenings and weekends making jewellery and content for my creative project, Marissa Irwin Designs. As it turns out, designing jewellery runs in my family. Many years ago my great-grandfather opened a jewellery & gift store called Malloves, which my grandfather and then Uncle Marc eventually took over. This year, my Uncle Marc and his fantastic staff are celebrating the store’s 90th anniversary. It’s amazing what you can build with passion, hard-work, a supportive community, and of course, your trusty hands!

When I’m not making jewellery, you’re likely to find me in the kitchen testing a new recipe or at the local cafe, indulging in something sweet. Admittedly, I have a complete weakness for pastries. I simply cannot imagine life without freshly baked croissants from the Little Bread Pedlar.

3. What artist or artwork inspired you the most growing up?

Growing up, I had a wonderful elementary school art teacher named Mrs. Eminger. She managed to get everyone, no matter who they were, excited about art. I vividly remember studying Vincent Van Gogh in her classroom and then partnering with my classmates to create a 3D version of The Starry Night, which ended up on display in our town’s public library. A few years ago, my Mom and I took a trip to New York City to see Van Gogh’s original painting at the MoMa. My Mom was always super involved in my childhood art projects (I inherited most of my creative skills from her) so it was a pretty special moment for both of us.

4. What artist are most inspires you now?

It’s hard to say! I remember discovering Damien Hirst when I first moved to London and went to his exhibition at the Tate Modern. I dream of being able to hang one of his butterfly prints in my future jewellery studio. Lately, I’ve been following loads of illustrators on Instagram such as Caili Dalian of Dilly Dalian and Rebecca Joslow of Joslow Illustrations. Caili designed my logo and Becca designed a postcard that I’ll be including in my workshop packaging going forward. I love the work they do.

5. What do you create mostly for work and what do you create mostly for fun?

At the moment, Marissa Irwin Designs is a side project I’m exploring, so I suppose everything I create is for fun! When I get home from my day job, I usually unpack all of my gemstones and spread them out across my dining room table. That’s when the real fun of mixing, matching and designing begins! Earrings are my favorite piece of jewellery to create at the moment. They’re versatile, easy to pack for weekends away, and can instantly transform an outfit from being forgettable to something worth talking about.

6. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?

For over 80 years there was a wonderful family-run shop on Marylebone Lane called The Button Queen. Shortly before they closed down, I spotted a sample button card in the window that contained the perfect pair of brass buttons. I picked them up for under £2 and immediately got to work turning them into a new pair of earrings. A few hours later I emerged with the design pictured below. I’d love to do more with upcycled buttons and jewellery going forward - the possibilities are endless!

7. Do you think people are just born creative or is it something everyone has, but many don’t explore?

I think everyone has it in them, but like most things in life, some people are more drawn to creative projects and pursuits than others. I’ve enjoyed creative projects for as long as I can remember, whether it was creating a diorama for school or sitting with my grandmother while she taught me how to knit (she has the patience of a saint). That being said, I know plenty of people who simply aren’t interested in crafts or creative hobbies, but if we managed to get them over to M.Y.O, I'm positive they’d end up having a great time!

8. What’s your favourite colour? Why?

Purple. It’s the color of my birthstone, Amethyst, which is the gemstone I enjoy working with most. I especially love how it looks when combined with green and white, or Peridot and Pearls.

9. What’s your favourite album to listen to whilst you create and why?

This is going to sound strange, but I’ve never really been a music person. I typically prefer to sit in silence while I create, or occasionally, I’ll listen to a podcast. My current favorites are Food Talks by Honey & Co. as well as Violet Sessions by Claire Ptak.

10. If you were stuck on a desert island and had to bring 3 items with you to create with, what would you bring!?

My pliers, wire, and a strand of freshwater pearls.

11. If you could give advice to yourself growing up, with the benefit of hindsight, what would it be?

During my summer internship in London, I lived with an Italian friend of mine, Francesca. I remember waking up one morning and rushing through my pre-work routine as quickly as possible when in the middle of fixing my hair, I spotted Francesca out of the corner of my eye. There she was, dressed in her nightgown, sitting quietly at the kitchen table and enjoying a simple breakfast of tea and toast. In that moment, Francesca helped me understand that it’s never about finding time, it’s about making time. I wish I had learned that lesson earlier in life!

12. What makes you most happy?

Delicious food and the way it brings people together, whether it’s for a dinner party at my flat, a Thanksgiving feast at my grandparents’ house in Florida, a barbecue on the back deck of my childhood home in Connecticut, or a simple breakfast at La Fromagerie (my favorite cafe in London) with my boyfriend on a quiet Sunday morning.

13. Is there anything exciting coming up that you would like to let people to know about?
I’m most excited about the Tassel Earring Workshop I’ll be hosting at M.Y.O on September 4th in Borough and September 27th in Peckham Levels. Be sure to come along!

14. Where can people find out more about what you are up to?

The best way to stay up-to-date on what I'm working on is to follow me on Instagram @marissairwindesigns. I'm constantly updating my feed with my latest designs and workshop dates.

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