Monday, December 8, 2014

An interview with Johanna Rott - the jewelry maker
behind 'Meineketten'

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
Supporting craft work and avoiding mass-produced products is one of the steps to a more sustainable wardrobe. Who doesn't prefer hand-made jewelry? :-) They're original and crafted with dedication and that little extra.
Unique designer jewelry by meineketten/Johanna Rott
Unique designer jewelry by © meineketten

When I visited Berlin earlier this year, I was immediately drawn to the jewelry made by Johanna. And I knew that I just had to get an interview with her! Let's hear her story and about the jewelry she makes. 

1. First of all, tell us about your background
and the motivation for starting a business.

My name is Johanna, a 33-year old who lives in Berlin. I'm originally a village girl from the middle of no where in the northwest of Germany (near Hamburg) :-) 

I was always sort of a practical person, and I was very lazy when it came to studying. When I finished school I started an apprenticeship called 'Hotelfachfrau', where you basically learn everything about hotels; cleaning rooms, cooking, service, reception and management.  

Once I turned 20 and had my degree, I left Germany to work abroad, starting with France, then Switzerland, Australia and Spain. In Spain I met my husband and we traveled for a couple of months in Asia. 

During these travels, I loved buying jewelry and other accessories. When I couldn't afford it, I bought materials so I could make jewelry for myself. 

As a little girl, my grandmother taught me things like knitting, crocheting, stitching (which was really uncool in the 90s and early 2000s). So, I always had a thing for hand-made things and I had a proper collection at home. 
Vintage ear studs and 14 k gold fill necklace with vintage porcelain by meineketten/Johanna Rott
Vintage ear studs and 14 k gold fill necklace with vintage porcelain by © meineketten

My friends and some random people always came up to me and asked about the jewelry I was wearing. We lived close to Mauer park at that time in 2010, and I thought to myself that I would try to sell some of the necklaces I made. And it worked. 

I would have never guessed that I would be doing what I'm doing now - it was all a coincidence!

I was bloody proud and started to research online for more materials. In the beginning I bought so much shit because I didn't have a clue about materials and different measurements (inches and such).

Read: Sustainable tagua nut earrings.

2. We'd like to know more about the design process -
from choosing materials, techniques and
where you get inspiration for the jewelry design?

I buy materials from different countries. Did you know that a jewelry chain made in Germany is not that more expensive than a jewelry chain made in China? It's crazy, isn't it? Especially when shipping and customs are not included. 
Geometric jewelry and minimal jewelry by meineketten/Johanna Rott
Geometric jewelry and minimal jewelry © meineketten

To kill the romance - the graphics are not mine. I buy the graphics because I'm not very creative in this area. 

Since I have so much materials at home, I try out different things. And a lot of the necklaces I make are results of a coincidence. If I think something looks good, I take it to the markets. If the jewelry sells, I make more and then it goes online on Etsy and DaWanda ;-)

It's often though that when I absolutely love a final product, it doesn't sell which is a shame!

Read: Nine unique things to see and do in Berlin.

3. Take us through a 'typical' day at the office.

Interview with Johanna Rott - the jewelry maker behind the German Meineketten
meineketten jewelry

I don't have a normal working day because I have two kids (7 and 4 years old). And usually there's some family issues that come in between. 

I create the jewelry in the mornings, and I do all the e-mails and paperwork at night. I also sell jewelry at the markets, which can be exhausting, so I usually have somebody working for me (mainly my neighbor - Annie). I sell jewelry at random design markets in Hamburg and Berlin, and a weekly market in Hackscher Markt and Kollwitzplatz.

Read: How to make a ring necklace from existing jewelry

4. What is the most valuable lesson
you have learned from making jewelry?

The most perfect thing is when I have new items and everything is prepared, my kids are asleep and my husband has gone out. Then I would sit on the couch, watch a film or some TV (mostly Sex & The City) while making the nicest fiddly things.

That is what I enjoy the most! :-)
Hexagon necklace by meineketten/Johanna Rott
Hexagon necklace by © meineketten

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