MARGARET SCHAFER: IBIS ELEMENT
Margaret is an extremely interesting woman who lives on an island in Washington state, where for the larger part of the year her and her partner are the only inhabitants, care-taking for a summer camp. This is where she designs the beautiful, quality jewelry she makes and gets it cast nearby. Find her gorgeous rings, earrings and necklaces in silver and bronze for sale on DaughtersMarket.com, all for under $100!
Tell me a little more about your background?
I’m originally from the Mid-West Chicago. I have a day job at a small non-profit youth education center that teaches French to children. Jewelry is a side job and while I don’t have a formal education in jewelry, I’ve been selling and designing jewelry for about five years now. I do have a history in wood working as well. I’ve also been in wood working for five years now.
When did you first fall in love with jewelry and knew you wanted to become a designer? Tell us about how and where this happened, and how it felt.
I’ve always collected jewelry as a kid. I also took a class while in high school and it further reinstated how jewelry is really special. It can become a scared token. In the recent years, in terms of the availability of studio space, I realized that I could push to create a small business of my own.
What is the significance of your company name? More specifically, is it influenced by the bird, Ibis?
A lot of my early designs were inspired by ancient jewelry. I’ve always been drawn to Egyptian styled jewelry. The typed that you would often see in museums. Ibis are scared birds for the Egyptians and I also happen to find them very beautiful.
What is Ibis Elements' philosophy?
It’s handmade quality jewelry with great customer service. The joy of a tiny handmade business is that you can invest in your vision and not compromise.
How do you describe your style? What inspires your jewelry designs and creativity when making a new piece?
I think my two main influences are elements of antiquity and nature. I currently live in a more rural setting and my day-to-day is surrounded by trees. I find a lot of influence from that.
How do you want someone to feel when they wear a piece of your jewelry?
Great question! For my own jewelry, I hope that they feel like they are wearing something handmade and unique with also not being mass-produced. I find that a lot of my clientele value creative vision and individuality. They share those values and my jewelry embodies those characteristics.
As a jewelry designer, what differentiates your work from others?
I feel like I’ve seen a recent trend of two dimensional, minimalists and flat jewelry. I consider my work to be heavier and more substantial. They really resonate with certain people. It’s a good place for a small business when you have some clients that are really passionate about the vision and then some that aren’t very interested.
What's your favorite piece of jewelry that you've made and why?
The COGIA ring. It’s a bronze ring band with an offset ridge. It’s simple and comfortable for everyday wear but also unique. I’m currently working on a cusp bracelet of simple design.
What challenges do you face in your work? Do you ever run out of ideas?
I think by far the hardest part is finding the time to set aside and work. Because I have a full-time job outside of my business it can be challenging to find the time. You have to keep pushing yourself and set aside time for everything to progress. I don’t run into running out of ideas but more so having the time to execute all the projects I want to pursue.
What has been the most surprising thing about running your own company?
There’s an enormous freedom in running a creative company. You decide what projects to pursue and where to invest time and money. That lack of direction can be intimidating but it’s also incredibly liberating to be at the wheel and make all your decisions independently.
Probably my grandmother's! I adore antique jewelry. I’m so drawn to the handicraft and skill that went into jewelry from centuries ago. One of my grandmas had a particular fondness for animal jewelry, which I’m obviously really drawn to – it’s so whimsical and playful. Plus that type of jewelry is often very much of an era in terms of design but also manages to be timeless.
What advice do you have for other female-identified business owners?
The most important is put your nose down and do the work. It’s about carving out the time to make progress. When you do the time, you are able to see the results. Also, to network as often as you can. Build the relationship with other female makers. Those connections are able to provide support and advice from sourcing materials to paying taxes.
Anything else you would like to share?
Daughters Market is such a special thing. It’s building to be a special community of special makers and the ethos behind the whole project is special.