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  • Writer's pictureElle

Chatting with Amelia from made by a.

*We aim to aspire to inspire as we chat to others, picking their brains, exploring their gifts and practices.

All posts are raw & unedited because f**k none of us are perfect & it is time to celebrate that - I'm here for the honest & real, you?

Who is Amelia?

Jeweller, maker, dog enthusiast, notorious for biting off more than I can chew. I am Amelia Hancock, owner, designer and head jeweller of Made by a. We are a small business, with ateam of four, operating out of a heritage listed two storey terrace in the beautiful community of Cooks Hill, Newcastle, NSW. I am self trained and have had my brand for six years.

How do you share your gift with others?

I am currently training a new jeweller who has just come on board with us. Furthermore, we have a high school student completing work experience with us every Wednesday. Both are learning silversmithing and gold smithing, with hands-on experience and an encouragement to be creative and experimental. In addition to this, our original team is also being taught simple jewellery making techniques so we can all be familiar with how our jewellery is designed and forged. I always keep my team informed of new collections and designs, and the processes behind this.

What environmental or conscious traits do you practice?

All of our jewellery is handmade locally in our studio. Designed and produced with intention, our pieces are made to order and we endeavour to repair as often as possible to minimise waste. All of our gold and silver is 100% recycled, which ensures sustainability and is beneficial to the environment.

What do you think we are about to see a lot of in your industry?

Chunky jewellery and layering, more is more. Mixing metals, layering silver with gold, having no rules. Ear curation, a boom in piercing and creating thoughtful arrangements in ears and cartilage that highlight people's individual anatomy. Hand Formed, unpolished and raw designs. People are appreciating handmade more and wish to support local artists who finish their designs solely by hand and with techniques of yesteryear, hence a more organic approach to jewellery design and setting.

What was your journey to making your passion your everyday?

I am self taught and began experimenting with jewellery making after I realised fashion design at TAFE was not for me. After leaving, I gained some advice and experience through some beautiful silversmiths at the Menshed, where retired craftsmen of varying disciplines pass on their knowledge to those who are just beginning and honing their techniques. I used to work out of my dad's garage, creating and practicing and refining, while I was still working two other jobs to support myself and to reinvest back into my own brand. Finally, Made by a. was born with a launch party held at Musterpoint Collective in Mayfield, Newcastle six years ago. Following this, I had a regular stall at Hunt and Gather markets in town while also being apart of a collaborative space and shopfront with several other designers - Maker Store and Studio. When Maker closed its doors for the last time in 2021, I decided to venture out on my own and opened my first stand alone shop and studio, a. Atelier, in Cooks Hill, launched December that same year. I have now been focussing on Made by a. solely in a full time capacity for 3 years.

What has a challenge been when establishing your work / business?

It is always challenging to keep up with demand, with only a small team and using traditional techniques. It can be time consuming and painstaking work, of course it's a labour of love, but it can be hard to create and make according to timelines, due dates, fulfilling online orders and keeping shop stock full. Coupled with trying to keep up with other brands, a lot of whom outsource their pieces overseas to reduce costs or have larger teams to work with, it can be hard to compete. Offering handmade, made to order, in a society which demands and expects everything instantly, can be difficult to navigate. Also, trying to decide who we want to align ourselves with, and how to position ourselves in the market pricing wise, can be hard. To remain competitive, while still pricing our designs reflective of the materials and labour, is a balance that we are constantly working on and learning from.

What is next?

We are very excited to be expanding our business over the next few months and to be creating new collections. I want a. Atelier to be a collaborative, creative hub, a space where clients and customers can experience several brands and services all under the one roof. Only a few weeks ago, Laura, owner and designer of Saint, has reestablished herself in the second storey and will now be working and operating out of our terrace. In addition, we will be welcoming two tattoo artists into our space who are both well established in the Newcastle community. As we are always looking to encourage and support up and coming designers, we will also soon be home to an in house bespoke tooth gem artist who will be creating custom one of a kind solid gold adornments to in turn be adhered to the client's teeth. We are very excited to be offering this service as there is nowhere else in Newcastle that boasts this rare artistry. Finally, and probably most exciting of all, we will begin offering piercing and ear curation, in conjunction with an in house piercing specific jewellery range. We have an experienced body piercer joining our team and are looking to give our customers a truly unique experience with ear styling tailored to their anatomy, and a jewellery line of solid 14 carat white and yellow gold labrets which they can be pierced with initially - no more chunky steel bars!

Advice for those starting out in my field?

Start where you are with what you have. Just start creating and making and see where it takes you.

Shit times which shaped you?

Well, I couldn't get a loan, so I sold my car to buy gold. I then rode a bike around with $4000 worth of gold on the back of it!

Who and where do you pull inspiration from? :

Art and sculpture - I have currently been into the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, sourcing inspiration from their images and artists. I also draw constant inspiration from my customers - their family heirlooms and personal collections. I admire pieces with history, significance, memories...odes to their loved ones.

Being constantly creative, how do you balance?

I work best under pressure, and with an almost frenzied yet organised chaotic environment. Well, it's chaos that I find comforting and familiar. I often get distracted easily, and will start to create with a hands on approach out of spare gold or older broken / unfinished pieces. This is how most of my collections are born. I don't tend to sketch or write much, I have designs in my head and transfer them straight to the physical pieces. I balance this with making sure I place boundaries in between myself and my work. I make sure to take days and time off when needed so as to not burn out, as with having a creative mind, it can be hard to "switch off" and disengage with my work. I also see friends and family as often as I can to ensure my cup is full and that my work / life balance is healthy. There's nothing I love more than to recharge and relax with loved ones over a beautiful meal and a pet nat. As a physical release, I go for long walks or runs for my mental health and so I can spend precious time with my dog, Roco. He is my world.

What are your rituals to get you in the zone?

I love to work to music and begin my day by setting the mood to some tunes. At the moment, I have been really into the Current Residence playlists on Spotify. I also love putting in my air pods and zoning out to podcasts. Some favourites of late have been Guy Raz's "How I Built This"... especially the episode with Yvon Chouinard who owns Patagonia or "Expanded" by Lacey Phillips.

Advice for someone if your field / advice you wish you had known?

Quality over quantity. Head down, focus, blinkers on. Stay in your lane. Always remember why you started and where you are headed.

Reflecting on your growth as an individual / brand, how do you feel?

I feel incredibly grateful and privileged to be able to work amongst a supportive team, doing what I love and pursuing my passion everyday. Reflecting on my brand and how far I've come, I am so fortunate to be here now and today. There is so much excitement on the horizon, so much yet to achieve, and I am incredibly enlivened by it.


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