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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
©2023 NIYIEM studio. All rights reserved.
"Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future." Robert L. Peters
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