Women-owned Forge & Finish...Women's Jewelry Collective in Philadelphia
Women's Jewelry Collective in Philadelphia!
Designers Forge & Finish
First up, Carly
1. How long have you lived in Philly? Since 2004
2. How do you describe yourself in THREE WORDS? Tenacious, Exuberant, Adventurous
3. How would your best friend describe you in THREE WORDS? Passionate, Ambitious, Loyal
4. How did you start your career? I started my career in the jewelry industry in 2006. I worked creating an in-house line of Jewelry called De Mi A Ti for Dandelion jewelry stores. I did this for about 3 years on and off and Emily (my current business partner at Forge & Finish) was my manager.
5. Who’s your mentor? I’ve had many people inspire me in my lifetime including my mother and grandma who were both intuitive artists, but my first professional mentor was Jason Ross of Artemas Quibble. He really instilled a style of work ethic in me that I try to relay to my apprentices, which is to be ingenuitive in your field. If you don’t have a tool, make one. I still apply this to my creative practice and it has been very useful.
6. What do you fantasize about? Making large scale interactive sculptures in public spaces for children.
7. What keeps you up at night? The current political, and environmental climate. I feel very disenchanted with our government, but I know change is slow, and that in order to see results we have to VOTE and become more educated about the process.
8. How has the pandemic affected you? The pandemic has affected me personally, I believe I contracted Covid in March when we didn’t have widely available testing and was hospitalized for three days because I couldn’t breathe. The doctors told me I was having bronchospasms, but looking back I’m 78% sure I had Covid. My grandfather, my hero, passed away during this pandemic in early April. Doctors said the cause of death was pneumonia, but I believe he also had corona virus. He had been living in a nursing home in NY and 4 other residents were hospitalized for the virus when he died.
9. How has the BLM Movement influenced your life and your work? Since the death of Trayvon Martin I have become more attuned to Black struggle than ever before. I have been proactively learning and unlearning and contributing wherever I can. I started making a piece about police brutality in 2016 which I haven’t finished yet, but my intentions are to auction it off and give profits to those affected. Most recently since the death of George Floyd, my partners and I (at Forge & Finish) have made it a priority to spread awareness of Black Joy and Black businesses as well as organizations to get involved with on our social media platforms. We stand in solidarity for equality and justice for Black people and all marginalized people.
10: What's one thing most people would be surprised to know about you? I was an award winning thespian in high school. I intend on having an encore career in comedy & theatre when I retire.
BONUS Q: What's your favorite spot in Philly? During this pandemic it’s been the Wissahickon Park system. I’m soo grateful to have a place to get outdoors with my family. For food, drinks, pastries and coffee I could eat at Suraya every day and die happy.
Next up, Emily
1. How long have you lived in Philly? I grew up in the Philadelphia metropolitan area aka the suburbs. I have been living in Philadelphia proper for about 16 years. It's my home.
2. How do you describe yourself in THREE WORDS? "Playful, loyal and industrious" but I think hungry would flow well in there too.
3. How would your best friend describe you in THREE WORDS? I have a hard time with these kinds of questions, I often think who really knows what others think of them? BUTTT I get called all kinds of descriptors like whacky, zainy, weird, funny, kooky. I think people see me for my humor and excitement generally. "Artsy" is a word I would think non-creatives would use to describe me.
4. How did you start your career? My career as an artist was by my parents design but my jewelry career I owe to working several years at a local independent jewelry retailer.
5. Who’s your mentor? No one in particular, maybe nature? IDK
6. What do you fantasize about? All kinds of random things, depending on the day. I spend a lot of time spacing out about making things mostly. So many hours thinking about crafts...yeah.
7. What keeps you up at night? Crafts lol... no seriously...I DO NOT sleep anymore so I would have to say my son who was born during the pandi, Phew 2020 am I right?! When I'm really stressed and up at night, I do creative writing, building small sculptures in my mind and making jokes. I lean hard on my creative self when times are tough. But sometimes it's not all bad, and I'm wide awake for good reason. Just getting high on my own supply, making shit.
8. How has the pandemic affected you? WOW intense topic & a loaded question, in so many ways...It's really hard to say at the moment because I am not sure if motherhood or the pandemic is responsible for the changes I have noticed in myself. It's been such an intense year and I want to keep things light on this. One thing I can say for certain is FASHION, I think the pandemic has really changed fashion for everyone. I kinda love it. I see people taking more risks with their personal street fashion whether that means wearing a sweat suit or a snakeskin raincoat. Another thing I love about the pandemic is people really doting on their pets and pet fashion is on fleek.
9. How has the BLM Movement influenced your life and your work? Another intense topic...Black lives matter, Black excellence is all around us and has given the world so much. Black creatives have been inspiring me my whole life. Personally, I owe the movement a lot, in terms of understanding more fully white privilege. I feel like I turned a page of understanding that I didn't even know I needed. Looking back I was not nearly aware enough. My eyes are fully open now and there is no going back. I went through a couple stages with processing, I spent a lot of time thinking how to best help, advocate and to participate in BLM. I gave birth on the day of the march here in Philly, it was such a crazy time, but I wasn't able to physically involve myself. I landed on focusing on the power of love, something I have to give that is useful in times like these. I am admiring how resilient people are and how beautiful Blackness is. I think I am seeing Blackness more than ever before in its true glory. This year we Forge & Finish donated money to the Loveland Foundation. We all agree that mental health is super important, people need to be supported, especially now. We try to elevate people through our platform whenever we can.
10: What's one thing most people would be surprised to know about you? People are always surprised about my age when they meet me, I am 36, people always think I am in high school. LOL. I guess high schoolers can have grey hairs? Also that I love hot dogs and that I am Jewish...people always say I didn't know that! As if it is crazy...I don't get it, I am not religious, more so culturally Jewish.
BONUS Q: What's your favorite spot in Philly? Pre-pandemic probably Reading Terminal, or the Italian market but now I have a rediscovered love of the Art museum. It is so gorgeous, I do a lot of walking outside nowadays.
And finally, Desiree
1. How long have you lived in Philly? Philly has been a home since I was born. Even after my family moved to South Jersey, both of my parents continued to work in Philadelphia and we stayed connected to many families, so there were frequent visits to the city. In 2003, I moved into my first apartment in Philly, and I have been building roots here ever since.
2. How do you describe yourself in THREE WORDS? Inquisitive, easy-going, sentimental
3. How would your best friend describe you in THREE WORDS? Loyal, thoughtful, lighthearted
4. How did you start your career? I gained a sense of survival and independence by forming a strong work ethic from a young age. Making a means to an end came naturally to me, whereas traditional milestones didn’t appeal to me, so I meandered quite a bit in discovering what brought me purpose in life. I gravitated toward Forge & Finish from a need for creative freedom and desire to build an intuitive career path. I’m most happy to feel a part of a team, which I’m grateful to have with Carly and Emily.
5. Who’s your mentor? I believe that we’re continually shaped and reshaped by bits and pieces we gather from a multitude of teachers in our lifetimes. My mentors embody many forms: family, fictional characters from books, nature, ghosts from my past, and one of my favorites - brief encounters with strangers. There’s something deeply meaningful to me when a small acknowledgement, a few words or an act of kindness from a stranger imparts such a lasting impression that it becomes a part of you.
6. What do you fantasize about? I fantasize about escaping to calm landscapes in nature.
7. What keeps you up at night? Untamed projects. I’ve struggled to bring ideas into physical form this past year.
8. How has the pandemic affected you? Conversations around the anxiety and depression that the pandemic heightened hit home for me. The exterior shutdown of our world dramatically sent my interior being into a whirlwind of emotions. Right up until the pandemic took course, I self-prescribed a go-go-go schedule. There weren’t enough hours in a day, and I crammed in as much as possible. It took the pandemic to recognize that operating at a fast-pace over the years has been masking decades of unresolved issues. A year later and I’m continuing to give myself the attention needed to heal old wounds.
9. How has the BLM Movement influenced your life and your work? The BLM Movement activates me to examine my own turmoils with racism. I endured defining racial degradations at different stages throughout my life. The nuances were confounding as a child. I didn’t inherently think “Heather such and such excluded me from the play group because I’m asian” at 4 years old, but I could gather that I looked different from the group, I experienced rejection, and I still carry it with me.
The more confrontations occurred, the more I grew to identify racism and the physiological response that is like getting leveled by a wave of cruelty that gets stored into your cells. When I was younger the anger drove me to fight back verbally and physically, but mainly I numbed my experiences. Internally, I felt small, overruled because I was the minority.
I can only imagine how the damage from coping minimizes BIPOC who suffer on a regular basis, whose freedoms are stunted, and whose loved ones are killed. How much can a person handle before erupting? The BLM Movement reminds me to question how & why I allowed racism to perpetuate in my past, the ways that I accepted its casualness and normalization, and it pushes me to reform the ways in which it exists in my present at work and everywhere.
10: What's one thing most people would be surprised to know about you? I’m not sure. The fact that I didn’t go to art school or the amount of food I can eat?
BONUS Q: What's your favorite spot in Philly? Indoors: The Fabric Workshop Gallery. Outdoors: Rizzo Rink for roller skating.
Forge & Finish Girls, we love you and hope our readers have an insight into your uniqueness & amazingness in this series.
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH IS EVERY MONTH.