Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
In addition to being a writer, college-level English teacher, lifestyle blogger, and epic Instagrammer (her beautifully composed 'grams that make us want to copycat all her LA shopping/coffee/nature walk adventures), Melissa Sonico just so happens to moonlight in jewelry making—cool, minimalist, and totally affordable jewelry that is.
Utilizing polymer clay beads, leather cords, and copper pieces in beautifully neural colorways (like—wear them with everything), her artsy-cool necklaces range from just $40-$60, and Sonico even offers the option to create a custom piece, starting at $50.
The stylish SoCal lady—and new mom to cutie pie Harrison—shared some of her literary inspirations with us, as well as telling us how motherhood has changed her work, and why having an accessible line is so important.
How did you get into jewelry making?
The whole jewelry making thing came about pretty organically. I spent a day with my nieces crafting and we made some clay necklaces while listening to Taylor Swift's 1989 the week it came out and after that I would make them for my friends. They pushed me to sell them, and I thought "Hey, here's a way I can make really artful, affordable necklaces, AND I don't have to pay two or three times the price for jewelry I'd seen elsewhere."
You're also a writer and writing teacher! How are you inspired by literature in the pieces you create?
Literature, just like any medium, can spark a certain inspiration or sensibility in other aspects of life. I love short fiction, creative nonfiction essays, and writing inspired by a region. Los Angeles writer Joan Didion is a huge inspiration to me, and she is very much a style icon as well. She's dry and raw and minimalistic in her fashion sense, and I try to translate that into my own art, jewelry making included.
Is the aesthetic of your jewelry at all comparable to that of your personal writing style?
My own writing style is, while minimal, also lyric. I like to think that that simplistic beauty reads in my fiction as well.
You're a new mom! How has that effected you creatively?
It's made me really appreciate every second of time to myself. I am a procrastinator by nature and Harrison is slowly breaking me of that habit. I have to really push myself to crank out my work when he's napping instead of collapsing on the couch rewatching Seinfeld all day on Hulu.
Your pieces are so affordable. Was creating something accessible important to you?
It was definitely my mission to create beautiful, well-crafted pieces that weren't unattainable, realistically. I think that was something that sort of pushed me to really pursue making jewelry; so people in the same situation as me—coveting super-expensive pieces—could have access to pretty things!