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.
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.
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 words," 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.
Our studio is nestled at the front of our small, 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 us.
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.
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.
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.