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Q+A with 76andmaine

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Q+A with 76andmaine

Allie Federle

What got you interested in jewelry design?

My mom took a jewelry making class at the 92nd Street Y and came home with a stone-set ring that she had made. She loved the class and recommended that I sign up, especially since she had just purchased a ton of supplies that most likely would not get too much more use. Frustrated by a lack of creativity in my day job, and also fueled by an interest in DIY furniture (which has proven not to be “just a phase”…I still want to make tables), I decided to start small with the jewelry class. What turned into a way to release some creative energy became a full blown passion.

What is your favorite part of the jewelry design process?

Two things: First, actually coming up with the design. I have always loved drawing and I’ve come to love the process of starting with what looks like a scribble on a page and turning it into a design for a pair of earrings. Second, sawing and filing. Sawing metal is probably one of the more zen things I’ve done (and I’d call myself a pretty zenned out lady). I think it comes from the amount of concentration needed to keep the saw straight to get the most clean cut line possible. So fun.

What is your least favorite part?

Crimping beads. But I’ll blame that on not having the right tool before today.

Where do you make your pieces? Do you have a studio?

I wish. Right now, our dining room table serves three functions: it’s a place to eat, a place for me to cut, saw, file, and bead, and a place for Ben to study. It’s a very messy and chaotic table.

Why “76andmaine”?

I got the name from the two places where I started making jewelry: at my parents’ place in NYC (76th street), and our family home up in South Thomaston, Maine. An ode to my roots!

And now you’re in DC? Why did you move and how are you adjusting? Don’t you miss NYC?!

Of course I miss NYC, it’s an amazing city BUT I do have to say that DC has been the perfect place to be. My boyfriend, Ben, and I moved down here for Ben to pursue his MBA at Georgetown and also to try something new. We had both been in NYC for awhile (Ben especially), and we were ready for a break. While DC is a smaller city, I’ve learned that the creative scene is just as vibrant. I have always been so interested in the small business scene, especially small-batch production type of stuff, and there’s so much of it here. Working part-time at Salt & Sundry has opened me up to DC’s small businesses, which in turn led me to follow through with launching a site (its all about that inspo). I think that the “more manageable” feel of the city is great for people looking to pursue a side project and actually put it out there in the open. Long story short: New York is great, but for me right now, DC is better.

What inspires you and your designs?

Ben calls my style “Maine Chic”. At first, I totally did not get it but now I understand and I’ll take it. Maine Chic (still laugh to myself when saying it) is, I think, what people would call rustic, neutral-tone-wearing, in-touch with nature without falling into the crunchy granola category, and a bit androgynous. Feminine, but not girly. I’m one of those girls who gravitate more to the mens stores (ie - Jcrew for men >Jcrew for women, IMO). I like more rustic jewelry and designs inspired by nature. While I do plan on working with stone settings soon, I can almost guarantee you that you won’t ever see anything too bling-blingy coming from 76andmaine.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Yes. Podcasts. A friend at work suggested I start listening to #girlboss Radio by Nasty Gal’s Sophia Amoruso and I am hooked. Also, my sister suggested that I start listening to NPR’s How I Built This. Anyone looking for a kick in the butt, or in need of a dose of inspiration, please do yourself a favor and listen! I wish I could say I was getting paid for these endorsements but I am obviously not sooooo you better believe that they are good.