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N

Non toxic, clean living is rather an obsession of mine.  I have my hippy childhood roots to thank for that but also going through cancer with my Mom.  I started experiencing health issues of my own as a result of her illness and chose to take my already great diet and lifestyle and embrace them even more in order to avoid medication.  That is when the obsession started.  The way my body felt when my system wasn't over loaded and the enjoyment I got from eating amazing food and smelling natural scents and knowing my son's little growing body was safe, sparked a joy in me that was somewhat addictive.  This value is so much a part of me it really can't be separated and is a fundamental part of how I make my jewelry and operate within my studio.  It is a great joy to pass this on to all of my customers, knowing I am making pieces that will make their hearts happy but also their physical being safe.

I

Isaac, my son, is the main reason I chose to run a creative business.  I was determined to be a stay at home mom so that I could always be available to him.  Turns out he was a very "involved" child, in the sense that he "had to be in on everything" and "wanted to understand everything" so I ended up needing to be available a lot.  He learned my craft from a very young age and it is some of my fondest memories.  He was also an exceptional helper at markets having no qualms about walking up to complete strangers, taking them by the hand and very literally dragging them to my booth saying, "you have to see my mom's jewelry."  Who could say no to a four year old with such gumption?  And, of course, I paid him - in mini donuts.  Had I not had Isaac, I can't say I would have been so determined to make my creative business work.

Y

Yvonne, my Mom, was diagnosed with advanced cancer, her kidneys were failing, her spine was breaking (the cancer made it look like Swiss cheese) so she could hardly move and the devastation of it all crumbled my world. Desperate for some sort of relief from the stress of being her full time caregiver, the deep sadness of watching her suffer, the terror of the unknown result of treatment and the utter helplessness (plus being a mom to a young child, a stressful job change for Jordan, our friends/neighbours house burning down - we had been there for dinner hours before it happened - and an allergic reaction that put me in the ER), effected my mental state to a point of "nervous breakdown" (which was actually adrenal fatigue and mild ptsd). I very randomly started making jewelry as a creative outlet to escape but also process it all and suddenly my mind and body had "self" purpose (not "taking care of everyone else," purpose) and excitement. The distraction was incredibly therapeutic and very unintentionally launched my creative business journey. At first I made things just for fun and posted on Facebook, but in a very short time people started asking to buy them and so I started selling as a way to support my hobby. It became clear that “this could actually be a business” and then the E in NIYIEM happened.

I

Intentional is a word that is used a lot at the moment and it is no less important in the story of my making.  The "nervous breakdown," then a concussion, then tendonitis in both arms, then some sort of autonomic issue, showed me how delicate our human selves can be.  For years I had almost nothing to give and I learned very quickly what mattered and what could be let go of.  I had to become very intentional with my time, energy, and what I gave myself to, which actually helped me to really focus my business as it grew.  Now, as I've gotten well, I've kept the value of being intentional - with my time (so that I don't fatigue) - my designing (so that nothing is wasteful or frivolous) and with my energy (so that I am watching the right things grow).

Mr. E (I'll just use his iniatial) is an old family friend of my husband's.  During the cancer diagnosis and "nervous breakdown" era my husband also did a drastic job change.  It was significantly less pay but exactly what he wanted to be doing so he quit his stable 9-5 and went into full time ministry.  I had been exploring jewelry making and felt a deep desire to give more of myself to it.  While reading our local news paper I saw an advertisement for a three day metal smithing workshop at one of our local colleges.  The problem was it was expensive and we were flat broke, so I prayed in hopes it would be a possibility in the future.  A few days later Mr. E showed up at my door unannounced (which I always love) and said, "I saw this jewelry workshop and I'd like to pay for you to go."  He handed me an envelope full of money with a clipping of the same workshop I had seen!  I was completely shocked and oh so excited.  Shortly after, though, reality hit.  It was an hour away and I still wasn't able to drive because of high anxiety from the "nervous breakdown."  My Dad, being such a Dad, said, "you have to do this.  This will change your jewelry making forever," and sp he drove me there, came home, drove back and got me, then drove me home 4 hours each day for 3 days straight.  The knowledge I gained at that workshop was invaluable and was the catalyst for turning my jewelry making hobby into a business.  I can't thank Mr. E and my Dad enough and I get emotional every time I remember it.

E

M

Modern architecture and design are my first loves.  As a very little girl I could be found out on the dirt pile hollowing out caves - curated with stones and bark as furniture, carving out driveways lined with newly planted weeds - for the toy cars, and notching out pathways to connect patios to main living.  Every one was a masterpiece of dirt pile pods with organic accents.  Even then, it was contemporary design.  I love all architecture really, but the clean lines, sense of intention but also the sense of pushing boundaries with modern architecture is what I appreciate most.  The need to be decisive and intentional with every texture, shape and colour is what moves it from function to art.  My jewelry designing wasn't always modern.  I started out with a rather rustic aesthetic because of the nature of the materials I was using, but my passion for complexity within simplicity naturally influenced the change.  I love uncluttered design and accenting beauty with accessories without overwhelming it.

A name change for gras 'roots URBAN had been on my heart for a long time and when sitting in one of my favourite thinking spots I asked myself "what is my making all about?  What got me to here?"  A number of words, names, moments and values came to mind and as I scribbled them on a piece of paper the word NIYIEM took form.  I decided to google my made up word, just to find that it was an actual name (Nyeim) meaning creativity and an actual word (naeem) meaning blessing and happiness.  It perfectly described what my work meant to me and the decision was made, then, in my heart.  My creative business formed through a circumstantial evolution where each part was so pivotol, without that part, it wouldn't have come to fruition.  NIYIEM represents those momentous happenings. 

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a dreamed up word of moments, values and people that caused my making to come into being.

The
Makers

NIYIEM is a story of journey.  My  journey started with very hippy roots then transformed  into the opposite - a modern, city life.  All women have a story of their own journey and our jewelry is a way to express that beautiful transformation.

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ANIMATION

DARYA - owner, designer + maker

 

Originally from Cortes Island and raised by artisans, making jewelry brings me back to my "grassroots"  and my love for modern architecture and design is what influences my current "urban" life.  It was for that reason I originally named my business gras 'roots URBAN.  I cannot imagine a world without creativity and the ability to express it.  Jewelry is one way that I express that creativity but I am also passionate about interior design, photography, art, landscape, furniture design, drafting and clean, non toxic living.  I don't have one specific influence on my making, I find inspiration from everywhere really.  Sometimes just an off cut piece of metal or polymer clay can spark a new idea.  I tend to notice shape and texture first, before anything, and that is reflected the most in my designing.

For a long time I didn't wear jewelry, specifically earrings, because I have extremely sensitive ears.  It was hard for me to find the exact style I wanted in a material that I could wear.  I am also quite chemically sensitive and wanted to only wear non toxic accessories (and handle non toxic items while making them).  I knew there were others out there experiencing the same thing and so quality is always at the forefront of my  designing.

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JORDAN - maker

 

Truthfully, I didn't ever think I would be making jewelry as my living.  I have never been a very creative or crafty person since my focus in life was always working with people and counselling.  I have discovered; however, that jewelry making is very therapeutic and I actually really enjoy it.  

I spent my childhood living on a homestead where our family was quite self sufficient.  There is something about that simple life that I want to recreate for my own family.  The balance of working from the home studio, managing our own "modern" homestead and working with my hands brings it about.  - JORDAN

I have thought about venturing back into some form of counselling but working with my wife, at our home brings a very good balance.

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THE JOURNEY
NIYIEM started unexpectedly as a creative outlet during a really difficult time in my life when my Mom was diagnosed with late stage Multiple Myeloma Cancer.  I share this story, along with all of the other off beat stories that make up NIYIEM on the NIYIEM page.  It was by accident that I discovered jewelry making and it was exactly what I needed.  I didn’t intend on selling any of the pieces I made but friends and family loved it, so I did.  I started out with a few hand me down tools in my cold garage making things with found objects because I had no capitol to invest into proper tools and supplies.  A good friend, who is a very accomplished wire jewelry maker, taught me a few techniques and over time I started getting some sales.  I was ecstatic!  This hobby that I enjoyed so much and took so much of my stress away was starting to turn into something more.  One morning I saw an advertisement at a college in the next city over for a weekend metal jewelry workshop.  I desperately wanted to go but it was $500 and we had NO extra money at the time, but I knew it was a direction I wanted to go in for the future.  On a random afternoon an old friend of my husband’s arrived unexpectedly at our door.....I also tell this story, in full, on the NIYIEM page and count it as the most pivotal moment in my jewelry making.  It’s really when it became a business.  After that workshop I invested what very little money I had into some copper and sterling silver and a few good hammers and launched GRASSROOTSDESIGNS artisan jewelry.  I got my first wholesale account shortly after and I started seeing sales outside of friends and family.  Backtrack for a minute, before this I had been a private Spanish teacher and a wedding planner and had always intended on doing that again once my Mom was better, but I loved making jewelry too much.  Fast forward a few years and my little business was doing really well, but I was getting tired of working in a cold garage, and at the dining room table, and in the guest room and selling out of our living room.  I wanted to have a proper studio.  That was when we made the decision to build our house on a property that could have a self contained workspace.  It was a triumphant day when the studio got built, but it was short lived.  We needed it for storage during the build so I worked out of a small corner with all of our boxes and no heat and just a head lamp at night 
AGAIN…for 18 months. 

Plus, just before that, everything took a turn for the terrible.  Right before we started building I sustained a head injury.  I thought over time, with recovery, I would be able to forge metal again (without side effects) but it just didn't happen.  I couldn't forge metal anymore.  EVERYTHING I had worked for over the past 7 years was over.  I was devastated.  I, very literally, was talking with Jordan about what to do, what job I could even do after this injury that was so easily aggravated?  Should I go back to Spanish?  Or do something else?  Then I discovered polymer clay.  I don’t even know how.  It just appeared.  I did a week of research to figure out the basics and ordered my first batch of clay and a few tools.  I was INSTANTLY hooked! 

Truthfully, it didn’t matter to me if I loved it or not because it was the only way to save my business, but I really do LOVE it, maybe even more than metal work.  A few weeks later I bought everything I needed to transition over to polymer clay.  I spared no expense since I had stores waiting for this new work I would be producing and knew it would be worth the investment.  Right around the same time we finished the studio with insulation, heat, drywall and paint…it was lovely.  It was the first time I felt like a legitimate maker.  It’s amazing how a proper work space can do that.  Because of the dramatic change in medium, I decided it was also time for a rebranding and GRASSROOTSDESIGNS artisan jewelry became gras ‘roots URBAN.  My dream was always to grow my little business to a point where Jordan could leave his 9-5 and we could work together.  It was the most amazing and surreal feeling when that day came.  It was also always a dream to have my jewelry featured in New York, the heart of art and culture in North America, and in magazines around the world.  That day came in early 2022, 10 years after I had first began this journey.  

As I added more mediums and began expanding into more areas, like workshops, I felt that gras 'roots URBAN didn't reflect fully what we were all about.  For many many months I felt that way but a more suitable name didn't appear...until one day...when I was sitting in one of my favourite thinking spots and words started coming up that expressed the identity of my making.  I thought "I could create a new name with these immensely personal wor
ds," and so I did, and so NIYIEM came into existence.

 

Everything about what I make is so personal to me because it was such a long, difficult journey to get here.  My hope is that the love, persistence, care and joy  shows in every piece.     

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The Space

The studio is nestled at the front of our modern homestead in Royston, British Columbia, where we've also built our non toxic, eco friendly, passive home.  The same principles have been used in the design of the studio using all of the same non toxic materials and south facing glass doors to collect the sun and cross ventilation for cooling.  This creates a lovely little (only 100 square foot) work space full of light and warmth to make all of the beautiful pieces of jewelry.  All of our tools (even the automated ones) require hands to operate so our jewelry is truly handmade.  Every design is created in small batches with close inspection and often made to order, with the exact person in mind.

Have you ever wondered exactly what goes on in a workspace?  Our jewelry is displayed amongst our tools and work benches for an authentic, personal shopping experience.  To visit the studio and browse our jewelry please message.

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Slow Made With Intention

Inspired by all things modern with influences from bold design and simple minimalism, our jewelry is the unique, handcrafted statement that we hope will become well loved favourites.  We keep simplicity and how the pieces will be worn in mind when designing in hopes to create every day staples.  We believe whole heartedly in sustainability, clean living and quality made products and use only pure brass, sterling silver and 14k gold filled metals and we never, ever treat our products with any kind of chemicals (most pieces are left nude without finish).  Acetate is made from wood or cotton  pulp, is biodegradable and polymer clay, while a plastic product, is very durable so each lovely pieces will last.

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Taking Care

Your handmade jewelry is made to be worn regularly without concern but things can happen and natural metals will oxidize over time.  These are the best ways to keep your pieces looking lovely:

 

Polymer clay can be wiped clean with a damp cloth or gently washed with warm soapy water.  It is meant to be flexible in it's finished state but please don't bend your beautiful pieces unless they are designed to do so for wearing.

Acetate is an impervious material and will not stain easily.  It can be cleaned with a damp cloth or with warm soapy water.

Metal jewelry can be wiped clean with the polishing pad provided.  Do not polish intentionally oxidized pieces as the unique patina will be removed.

Mixed medium jewelry needs extra care when cleaning so that they tarnish from the metal doesn't transfer to the polymer clay.  Gently wipe the metal pieces with the polishing pad that comes with your hand crafted pieces.

It is best to put jewelry on after hair and skin products and after perfume to avoid staining.

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The Village

All of the income generated from our jewelry supports our little family of three plus the pets.  We cannot thank you enough for choosing to buy our pieces! 

 

The saying it takes a village is so true in our case as there are so many people behind the scenes that make everything work.  From Nana + Papa (who tirelessly provide childcare), to Dad (who endlessly builds displays and constructs all kinds of tool jigs and structures to make the work process smooth), to Mom (who constantly listens to new concepts and the future dreams), to Jordan (who supported every crazy idea, quit his stable job and now works daily in the studio), to Isaac (who is so well behaved at events and always willing to give an opinion and learn the craft), to Friends (who are willing to give feed back and encourage us on this journey).  We cannot do what we do without all of you...THE VILLAGE.

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