M of Copenhagen – Marie Beatrice and the dream that comes true. From Ethical Fashion Fair in Berlin to successful brand, zero waste philosophy and recycled material in jewellery.
Former colleague. Nowadays a successful business woman. Who is Marie Beatrice and what does she do? My curiosity has inspired me and I have a great opportunity to write about M of Copenhagen. Let me present Marie and her jewellery designing through this interview.
I read this on your website: ”Lovingly handmade in Denmark by Finnish-born designer Marie Gade”. Do you feel that your jewellery is Danish or Finnish? Why do you feel so?
I feel my design aesthetic is definitely mid-century Danish, but with very clear minimalism notes from my Finnish roots and growing up in the archipelago of Southern Finland. That’s where I got my love for nature from.
What is M of Copenhagen? Just a company name or something more? Can you describe it shortly with some key words?
My initial plan with the brand was to make clothing and I chose M of Copenhagen to be a unisex name that isn’t too female nor male, as my clothes were quite a mix of both. I produced my first ethical and sustainable clothing line in 2015 and showcased it in the Green Showroom at the Ethical Fashion Fair in Berlin that same summer. I had taught myself to make jewellery on the side in order to raise money for my clothing collections in 2014 and got such amazing feedback at the Ethical fashion fair for my jewellery, that I decided to switch over to that full time.
You wrote that you wanted to become a jewellery designer when you were 9 or 10. What made you feel so? How did you understand that?
I have always loved creating and especially drawing. As a kid I had drawers upon drawers and full of drawings. I had clothing lines all designed and ready to be made and I remember I couldn’t wait to grow up and become the age I needed to be in order to turn my designs into reality. I also sold my first oil painting at the age of 15 and have always had a knack for illustrating in general.
What kind of education did you need to go and how long was it? What was positive and what was negative?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design from Novia University of Applied Sciences in Finland (graduated 2011 top of my class). The education was 4 years, which is a year longer than an average Bachelor’s Degree. The reason behind it was that we spent the first year trying out the 3 different directions we could choose: fashion design, interior design or furniture design. I loved every bit of it because I was finally where I had wanted to be since I was 10.
Can you write about Novia University of Applied Sciences and London Jewellery School and your experience from there?
(Novia is mentioned above). I attended a 6 -hour introductory class into making silver jewellery at London Jewellery School and got completely hooked. I later signed up for studio space at LJS where I could come and go whenever I needed to use their work space. There is something so wonderful with working with metals. Part of the reason I love it more than fashion is that nothing is permanent if you don’t want it to be. It can always be remade, reshaped and recycled. In fashion, one wrong cut with the scissors or the overlock machine and you have to cross your fingers that you still have enough fabric to start all over.
How did they affect you and how did they contribute to development of your skills in working with jewellery?
Novia gave me the skills I needed in fashion and I am forever grateful for that and do see myself dabbling back into that partially together with my jewellery in a few years time. I have big plans to expand my brand.
Now you live and work in Denmark. Do you think that your jewellery design would succeed in Finland and would your business look different there?
No, I definitely know that I would be trapped and limited in Finland – as much by the culture as by myself. The fashion and culture scene is much more muted and suppressed in Finland compared to Denmark. Here in Denmark I feel the design scene is a common interest and a part of everyone’s lives in some way or another, whereas in Finland it’s something you actively have to choose to add to your life if you want to be a part of it. I knew already around the same time (around age 10) that wanting to be a designer would mean for me, whose mother-tongue is Swedish and therefore a minority in Finland, would mean to actively steer my course out of Finland if I ever wanted to feel free to be 100% me. I still feel the same about this as I did all those years living there.
You mentioned your mother in law on your website. As I understand, she inspired you to start with your design but did she believe in your potential from the start?
She did. She literally put the idea in my head by saying:
” You’re good at all things creative, have you ever thought about jewellery design?”
“Just me, my thoughts and nature.” – that sounds like inspiration from deep Finnish forests and nature. How do you succeed with inspiration in Copenhagen city with no forest and with much city stress?
In two ways: firstly, my imagination and my memories. I easily let my mind drift away when I close my eyes and can feel close to nature in my memories, growing up in the dense Finnish forest. Secondly, I am very lucky that my husband’s family has a summer house only 2 hours away, which I call my second home here in Denmark. I love that place so much after my first visit I told my now husband that I want to get married there. So we did. It was the most perfect island wedding.
I have seen three things on your website: Japanese origami, zero waste philosophy and recycled material in jewellery. How can you explain or describe it for regular people?
My aesthetic is minimal in every way, shape and form. I will probably never make anything covered in rhinestones, diamonds and bling. It’s just not in my DNA. I always gravitate towards simplicty and often add and subtract features of a design before I am completely satisfied. It’s an art form to design something that is breathtakingly special but with the least amount of features possible. It’s as much about seeing the beauty in what is left out, as it is about what the piece actually contains.
Funnily enough, I have never been one to wear much jewellery, and in fact most days I still go without. So my philosophy is very much clean lines, geometric shapes and organic shapes found in nature.
“I made your jewellery” – When I read that text, I feel how proud you are. I feel some kind of quality. I guess that others also do so. What do you feel?
Definitely pride. Not many designers these days can say that they produce everything themselves, besides jewellery makers and even among us there are many who don’t do anything but design and then outsource the rest. It’s a rare commodity these days as there are so many more things to running a successful business than just designing and making even if you’re a one-woman show like myself. I wear all the hats: designer, maker, photographer, editor, PR, web designer, admin, book keeping etc. So when I say I made your jewellery, I really MADE it and everything that went into it.
Do you remember any reaction from some customer when buying or using your products?
So far, I have only gotten good feedback so I hope it keeps coming. Many of my clients are people I have met at some point in my life, friends and relatives of them or old acquaintances from another time, so that means a lot to me to get so much support from those who actually know me and what I stand for. When someone buys a piece of your design, it’s like they are buying and acknowledging a piece of You. A piece of your story and your soul. To me, that’s the biggest compliment a designer or artist can ever get.
You work with solid metals meaning your jewellery is never filled or plated. What is needed for that manufacturing?
I buy the solid metal from a wholesaler (already recycled). My manufacturing process is very simple because I choose the simplest and most valuable method of all – working with solid materials, meaning no unnecessary chemical processes need to take place.
Do you have own laboratory or do you order the work from somewhere?
I have my own studio where I rework the metal that I buy pre-recycled. I can remelt all my scraps and leftovers to make new solid jewellery at anytime. That is why the business is Zero Waste.
I guess there are many small details to consider when manufacturing. Is it difficult to do it from scratch?
Not really, I very much enjoy creating and crafting, spending countless hours perfecting something until I am happy with it. I do it as much for the process itself as I do it for the results.
Do you feel that you dream has come true, I mean do your design and business go well?
Yes definitely. Over the next few years I want to be able to expand and get a bigger studio so that I can take on even more intricate designs and challenge myself to expand my abilities.
And at the end… what is your favourite jewellery, does it have any name and when would you wear it?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite, because to me they are all my children. You simply can’t pick a favourite. And like I said earlier, I don’t wear a lot of jewellery, but when I do it’s one of my simpler pieces like the Hook mini earrings (that go with everything) and my Hoop ring -all depending on the event I am going to or errand I am running on that particular day.
So, that was it. Now we know more about M of Copenhagen and Marie and I wish her successful expanding of business. I am very grateful for this fantastic interview.