T the brilliant designer behind the coveted jewelry line Upper Metal Class welcomed us into her adorable Northeast Portland Studio. T’s jewelry has always stood out to us because of simplicity and elegant construction - saying so much with so little, its minimalism makes every piece so versatile. We had the privilege of getting see the magic behind the brand watching T work on soldering and finishing up a few pieces from her new collection that she has been busy taking to trade shows. We chatted about the struggle of getting into a field as well as some really amazing techniques like sintering metal clay in a kiln that T uses in her design process. Enjoy our visit at the Upper Metal Class studio and the great interview with designer T.
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
I'm originally from Los Angeles and when I first came to visit Portland I automatically fell in love! I really felt a connection that I've never felt from any other place I've visited. There's a certain kind of care and support that I find within the communities that just make me feel at home. The green life and natural beauty that surrounds the city just really makes me happy. Not to mention the pride that people take in their work whether it may be through their craft, shop, restaurant or home I find them so admirable.
2. How did your brand start?
My brand started during a time when I was sort of between jobs. I had gone through so many different types of them and what I thought were my passions, but none lasted long enough. I worked jobs that were mentally unhealthy with bosses that were cruel and unfair. I always worked hard and put my all into everything, but never felt appreciated and didn't feel any value or satisfaction until I was lucky to find my last job. I ended up at a production company that made commercials where I worked with some of the most nicest, encouraging and caring people I have ever met. However it was only freelance and it wasn't something I was very passionate about. So during my free time I ended up taking a couple of jewelry classes for fun. I made pieces for myself to wear and one day my boss asked about my little tri-angle curve earrings and she ended up ordering a pair for herself. From that day forward I began to receive more requests from other people and it snow balled into a small business out of my closet of a room.
3. What has been your biggest obstacle?
When you spend so much time and passion into something that went from nothing to a real business it's really hard to let go. So my biggest obstacle is learning how pass on my responsibilities to others to help grow and continue creating a better business.
4. What or who inspires your design?
I like simplicity. My inspiration comes from architecture, geometric shapes, nature, math, science, and objects.
5. What are your favorite things about Portland?
I love the shops in Portland! Each one are so personalized and special in their own way.
6. What is your favorite part of your studio?
I worked from home from a long time so I'm just happy to have a place to work at that's not my home.
7. Your favorite thing about your workspace?
I love my plants and the tall windows that feed the room with light.
8. Tell us two truths and a lie!
I have two dogs Gizmo and Koi.
My phone battery sucks.
Bill Murray is an Alien.
9. 5 things you can’t live without.
music, shower, clean clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste