• Dreamers + Doers: Meghan Sullivan

    Dreamers + Doers highlights emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and up-and-coming ones to watch. Whether it’s starting a new business, creating something beautiful, or just daring to do things differently, we stand behind those taking steps toward something new.

    Meghan Sullivan is a Southern California based jewelry designer and UO alum, whose hand-forged line of jewelry, Paradigm, has gone from being a self-taught side project into fueling her full-time job. For this installment of our Dreamers + Doers series, which shares the stories of emerging artists, designers, and entrepreneurs, we visited Meghan in her studio and around her neighborhood to learn more about the inspiration, work, and dedication that goes into making every one of her jewelry pieces. 

    And to learn more about Dreamers + Doers, be sure to read up on the D+D Start Up contest we are currently hosting with Squarespace, which will award $20,000 to an emerging entrepreneur. Find out how to enter here!

    How did you first get started in jewelry design? 
    My affinity for jewelry stems back to summers spent road tripping across the Midwest with my family. The highlight for me was always the piece of Native American jewelry I would pick up at some roadside shop or market. Years later I decided that I wanted to study fashion in college. I wanted to own my own clothing line, so I took courses, worked retail jobs, sewed for a children's clothing line, interned for a couple of LA labels, and wound up working for a designer boutique in Silverlake. It was at this job that I became fixated on jewelry design and its process as opposed to clothing. So I did my homework and found places that offered metalsmithing classes. I spent all of my time off work, and paychecks on learning and materials. 

    Can you share more about your experience working at UO?  
    After high school I got my first job at an Urban Outfitters store, which only made my interest in fashion grow. It was during that time I decided I wanted to have my own line. I spent two years as a sales associate and can say it was a very influential experience in leading me toward a future in design. Actually, many of my most important friendships are old coworkers. 

    Is Paradigm now your full-time job? 
    Yes! I spent the first couple of years nursing Paradigm while working part-time, and about a year ago I reached the point where I knew I needed to choose to commit fully to my line if I wanted it to be successful. 

    What inspires your work? 
    I tend to draw inspiration from nature, architecture, classic movies, clean lines, and repetition. I'm also very driven by current fashion trends. I try to create pieces that compliment those trends while still remaining minimal and adaptable to different styles. 

    What materials do you work with? 
    Mostly, I work with brass, bronze, sterling, and fine silver. I also use various gemstones and crystals. 

    Can you share more about your studio set-up? 
    It's pretty basic. I have various forming tools, files, hammers, pliers, ring and bracelet mandrels, and a rolling mill. My power tools include a small bench polisher, drill press, and a flex shaft. I solder with a regular old plumber's torch. Generally I just hop around from station to station all day. 

    What designs and projects are you working on currently? 
    Right now I am developing my next collection. I create all prototypes by hand and then take them to a small local caster who makes a mold and then casts each piece out of wax. Then I polish and add the finishing touches in my studio. This is new for me, up until now I've created all pieces start to finish without any other hands in the pot. It's something I've been wanting to do for quite some time so it's pretty exciting to have finally reached this point. The new collection will be available mid-May. 

    Where can people find you/your work? 
    Paradigm can be found in a handful of specialty boutiques, including; The Runway Outlet, Prism Boutique, The Shangri-La Jewelry Boutique, Swirl Boutique, Steel Garden, Redux Ritual, and soon to be in Cleobella. I also do market events whenever possible. One I frequently sell at is Artists and Fleas in downtown LA. 

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