Introducing Stefani Stoyanof of Swim to the Moon
I am thrilled to introduce our newest jewelry designer to the shop, Stefani Stoyanof. As a native of Greece, she is influenced by the depths of the Aegean Sea and the natural textures and colors of the earth. She's is a self-taught metalsmith, always exploring innovative ways to bring her designs to life. Her jewelry is handcrafted in her home studio, between Athens, Greece and Austin, Texas. We had the opportunity to chat with Stefani about her life story. Read our interview below the fold and be sure to check out her beautiful collection of jewelry here. Welcome, Stefani!
What is your background? Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Athens, Greece with the sea as my backyard where I spent most of my time. When I was 11 my family and I moved to the U.S, to a land-locked city in Texas and as an only child, this is where I spent hours drawing in my room and allowing my creative spirit to make its appearance. From drawing, I started making clothes, and then clothes turned into accessories (remember men’s ties as belts?!). Later in the years, instead of attending a design school, I chose to follow the more classic route and studied psychology, all the way to a first year of a Ph.D. program. That fall semester I had also signed up for a metal smith class as a way to relieve stress from all the workload from school. Come spring time, and with a lot of gusto, I decided to withdraw from the university and I started my own jewelry business in the summer, with no experience at all, other than I love making things with my hands. As a self-taught jeweler, one of the greatest parts is, that it allows me to always explore innovative ways to bring my designs to life, although I am always on the lookout for more classes and guidance.
In a few words, how would you describe your work?
Geometric, wearable, focus on material and form.
Have you always lived in Austin?
I haven’t always lived in Austin, although I can’t think of a better place to be an artist in. I actually consider myself a bit of a nomad. Okay “a bit” would be selling it short actually. Since the age of eleven with my family’s first big transatlantic move, I haven’t managed to stop moving. I am lucky enough to have lived in some of the greatest cities in America- including Austin, San Francisco, Boston, and Miami, and for the last 13 months my husband and I have been traveling around the world with just our backpacks- which really was the birth of my latest jewelry collection, Geo. In August, we will be heading back to Athens, Greece and finally “trying” to settle down.
How does the environment affect your work?
The environment plays a huge role in all of my designs! I mostly find my inspiration from nature, specifically the Aegean Sea and the rocky lands of my home country. I absolutely love anything and everything that has to do with the water, and my imagination specifically runs wild in barren almost lonesome landscapes, like a desert or any rocky bluff.
Your jewelry is sustainably sourced - what does that process look like and where do you source your materials?
I only use metals and other materials that are sustainably sourced- meaning 100% recycled or Fair Trade. The hardest part is finding a casting studio that follows those same guidelines. When people hear the word “recycled” they are immediately turned off, when in fact it just means that its not mined and all metal scraps are reused. We live in a world of excess, so its nice to be able to make something beautiful from reusable materials, to try and change that mindset. In packaging I try to use all 100% recycled material, and recently have been using carpet swatches that I picked up from my local store which were about to be tossed, using them as fillers for the jewelry boxes.
What does your day to day look like?
I get up (semi)early and make myself breakfast, best meal of the day and I take it very seriously! I then try and do all computer related work in the first two hours of the day- process orders, print labels, create invoices, answer e-mails, etc. Then comes the greatest part: studio time. Weather it means making certain pieces for new orders, creating more stock, cutting up materials for packaging, carving new models, and/or designing a new collection. Around the evening I go for a run or some form of activity outside. Then its either back in the studio until the wee hours of the night, depending on the day, or its making dinner and enjoying the night with my husband, family, or friends.
Any must-have items in your workspace?
My torch, wax, carving tools, natural light, and great music.
What's one of your favorite things about running a small business?
Freedom- whether its in creating something with your bare hands, or the ability to make your own choices in the kind of business you want to run and how that impacts the world around you.
What are you reading/watching right now?
I am currently reading IQ84 by one of my ultimate favorite writers Haruki Murakami- I absolutely love getting lost in his novels.
Favorite artist(s) in any field, living or dead?
Jim Morrison- he is a poetry/ lyrist god. The name Swim to the Moon was actually one of my favorite lines in Moonlight Drive.
What was the first thing you remember making?
A necklace from screws and nails I found in a toolbox for my best friend. She was part of my experimental “here I made this just for you from scrap around the house” jewelry phase. I wish we still had some of those OG pieces!