One of the best things about starting this blog has been the people I’ve met on account of it. One of the more awkward things since starting this blog has been the moment you see someone in real life that you’ve “met” or “know” online. It can be bumbling, a little uncomfortable at first and kind of a dance – not knowing what to say, how familiar to be. But absolutely none of those things happened when I first met Emily – the inspiring lady behind Elva Fields. It was like meeting a long-lost relative. She’s warm, welcoming, endearing, engaging and just real.
Emily immediately puts you at ease and within moments of meeting, she felt like an old friend. Since that first quick chat at a fashion event, I’ve had the chance to hangout with her a couple times at her studio on Frankfort Avenue. The studio is just like Emily – bright, inviting, full of light and brimming with color. The two times I’ve been there, I’ve lost track of time, wanting to spend my whole afternoon pouring over beads and brooches.
One afternoon, a group of us even got the chance to take one of Emily’s jewelry making classes – learning her ways and crafting our own Elva Fields piece. I still wear mine almost once a week (i’d wear it more if I hadn’t made it so dang heavy!). I think it may have been the most relaxing afternoon I’ve had in years. Seriously.
But enough about my less than stellar jewelry making skills. You’re going to love getting to know Emily – whose skills are unmatched – and will love shopping her beautiful pieces even more. I can also vouch for the majority of her Louisville picks. Lots of favorites in her list.
* Name: Emily Wheat Maynard
* Company: Elva Fields
* Title: Chief in Charge
* How did you get started in your field? Rather round-about-ly. I spent two years studying decorative art history in New York City and wrote my Master’s Thesis on (here’s the part where you find out I’m a huge nerd…) The Extent of Ancient Influence in Italian Renaissance Jewelry. At the time, I was working as a Research Fellow in the jewelry archives of a museum and thought I wanted to to become a curator…but after taking a class in ancient metalsmithing as an independent study, I remembered how much I loved creating and making things. I combined both interests and started Elva Fields after a bead-buying trip to the jewelry district, gathering some flea-market finds, and finishing graduate school.
* What inspires you? Everything. Truly, I occasionally wish I could turn it off.
* What three words describe your work best: handmade, colorful, thoughtful
* What three words describe you best: authentic, creative, late
* One thing about you that might surprise people: I am currently raising two daughters and four venus fly traps.
* Why Louisville? So many people end up leaving Louisville, what helped keep you in the 502?: I grew up in Danville, moved here from New York City–it’s actually a pretty great combination of both. (Plus, most of my family is here, which is amazing.)
* Favorite Louisville Neighborhood: Crescent Hill
* Favorite Spot for a Drink: the patio at Decca
* Favorite Lunch Spot: Blue Dog Bakery
* You’ve got to try: The Policeman’s Special at Comfy Cow.
* Favorite Festival: Forecastle
* Favorite Pizza Spot: Luigi’s Pizzeria on Main Street
* If someone is visiting from out of town and only has time to go to three places, where do you send them? The Palace for a show, 21c for art and a cocktail, and a picnic in Cherokee Park
* Where in Louisville can people find Elva Fields? In my studio on Frankfort Avenue, 21c [Museum Hotel], and VonMaur at Oxmoor
* How has the Elva Fields changed/evolved since you began? In a way, we’ve come back around to how we started…I evolved from running this business solo out of a guest room to having 4-5 assistants and a 1600 square foot storefront, and then–in the last two years–things took a bit of a turn and I have one wonderful assistant who handles most of our production, and I do the rest out of my new studio in Crescent Hill. At heart, we’ve been the same all along: passionate about creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind designs by hand and connecting authentically with our customers.
* You do a lot of searching for the perfect materials for your pieces. What’s been your favorite find? I remember one of the first vintage purchases I made, and it is still a favorite all these years later. I was with my grandmother in south Florida, and we stumbled upon a 1930s celluloid necklace made of bright magenta floral medallions. I ended up using the pendants in necklaces for my mother, grandmother, and dear friend that were among the first designs I ever created. I’ve not seen another vintage necklace like it since.
* What’s been for your favorite spot to find materials? I’ve never met a flea market or antique mall I didn’t love, and The Crazy Daisy is a great one here in town.
* Whose style inspires you? My grandmother, who just passed away this summer at almost 94, was quite a stylish, lovely lady. Her combinations of color and emphasis on classic, feminine fashions will forever influence the way I dress. (I feel fortunate that she handed down many of her clothes and jewels to me…so she’ll always be with me in spirit and style.)
* Who would you love to see sporting Elva Fields? And what type of piece would they be wearing? Honestly, it’s still a kick for me to see my jewelry on women in real life–it’s such a compliment to be included in someone’s everyday or meaningful special occasion in that way.
* What’s been a pinch me moment for your brand/career? There have been a few: being featured at Anthropologie, tapped for a collaboration with C. Wonder, articles in some of my favorite magazines, and hunting for vintage treasures in markets all over the world…but every day that I wake up and still have a shot at doing what I love is a pinch-me moment. I realize that owning and running this business is an enormous gift, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to create.
* What brands would you love to collaborate with? Truly, wide open. Come one, come all.
* What advice would you give someone starting up their own jewelry business? Cultivate your own style, have an original idea. Then, contact your local SCORE office and find yourself a business advisor.
* What’s been your favorite piece you’ve ever made? I don’t play favorites, but I have held on to three necklaces in 13 years of Elva…one of them this one. Not at all because it’s the most awesome one I’ve ever made, but he was quirky enough and seemed to want to stay.
* What’s next for Emily and Elva Fields? Well, our Fall Collection for Elva Fields launches next Wednesday (the 9th), we’re developing our new equestrian-inspired line, EW Martingale, and–my favorite new thing–we’ve started teaching classes in the studio!
Whether our BYOB workshop, where you bring in your own vintage jewel and pair it with beads from our stash and learn to create a necklace from it all, or our Mom and Me fun, learning to make a fun necklace with moms and kiddos (young or old!) and you each leave with your own design after a happy afternoon together, or even our Birthstone Charm Necklace class with wine, girlfriends, and gemstones–we’re having a ton of fun sharing our studio and our love of making things with others. Check out all the fall classes here.