Remember pestering your mum or dad for a few goldies to go up the corner store for a Bubble O’Bill? Then you’d carefully lick all around the outside, trying to keep the bubble gum nose in place (to save for the very end)? Well, Molly Coombs Marr has taken that Aussie nostalgia and turned it into a cute-as-pie adornment for your earlobes. Meet Molly, the maker of earrings that your childhood dreams were made of. We got to find out a little more about Molly’s passion for Aussie flora, fauna and ice-creams – of course!
We love that your collections are an ode to all things Australiana, what inspired you to draw from nature and also your childhood ice cream favourites?
My childhood itself has been a huge influence on my design style. I grew up in a country town in Northern NSW, on a small farm. My family spent our weekends traveling down red dirt roads to secret beaches and stopping on the way home for hot chips and ice-cream, the quintessential Australian dream. My parents share a great appreciation of Australian art too, so I grew up with an awareness of local designers and the iconic Australian styles of Ken Done, Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, Reg Mombassa and May Gibbs. I couldn’t have grown up the way I did without developing this love for all things Australiana, from the unique plant and animal life to the beautiful colours in the Australian landscape and, of course, the wacky ice-creams.
What were you doing in the lead up to starting your own jewellery brand?
In 2012 I began studying Design at the College of Fine Arts (now UNSW Art and Design). There, I majored in Applied Object Design and Jewellery Design. I’m definitely a hands on designer and love working with every material from clay, to timber, to metal. Uni helped me discover this. Towards the end of my degree I developed a huge appreciation for jewellery design and loved creating intricate pieces on a tiny scale. Unfortunately, the tools and set-up required to be a silversmith don’t come cheap and I wasn’t in a position to rent a space in a jewellery studio, so I turned to other mediums. That’s when I found polymer clay. I started making earrings for myself and had a couple of friends ask me to make them some. Then it clicked that I could make a small business out of it, so I gave it a crack and focussed my spare time on building my brand.
What’s it like owning and running your own business?
Tough. Don’t get me wrong, I love being my own boss and I’ve pictured myself running my own business since I was a kid, but it’s not as simple as some might believe. It isn’t like a 9-5 job where you clock out on Friday and don’t have to think about work until Monday and it isn’t, as some believe, all play and no work. My mind is always thinking about new designs, where I want the business to go and how I’m going to achieve growth. My business is still very young and not fruitful enough for me to live off (those Sydney rental costs heh), so I work another job three days a week and on my own designs the other four.
Workload aside, it is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Having people appreciate what I do and paying actual, real money for my designs is beyond gratifying.
Do you have any other creative projects on the go?
I’ve got ideas in the pipeline to expand my designs to include textiles, prints and maybe objects at some point. But to be honest, that’s in the far future. I’d also love to collaborate with a few of my favourite designers at some point.
What are your top three favourite songs to listen to while you’re creating your jewellery?
Make Love – Daft Punk, Sorry Hills – The Cactus Channel, Sam Cromack & Be About You – Winston Surfshirt.
What’s your creative process like?
It’s important to me that I’m not making stereotypical tack-o-rama for tourists. I want to make sure that Australians will connect with the piece on some level, whether that’s something that speaks to their sense of an Australian identity or simply nostalgia for a good old Bubble O’Bill. So sometimes it takes a few iterations before I’m happy with a design and sometimes it’s scrapped altogether.
Because my designs are directly influenced by Australia, all I need to do for inspiration is walk outside. There is so much for me to draw from, I never find myself thinking “hmm, I need a new product” – new designs are always brewing in my mind.
It all starts with a sketch. If I’m happy with the concept I’ll have a play with some polymer clay. Really I’m just a big kid making play-doh sculptures. The designs I’m happy with are popped into the oven to set, photographed and listed on Etsy. I sell my pieces on Etsy, because it’s a really simple platform to use and when you get an order your phone makes a very satisfying “Cha-Ching” cash-register sound. What more could I want?
What women are inspiring you at the moment?
I can’t take my eyes off Edith Rewa’s amazing botanical illustrations and the growing collection of Lino prints by Eliza Slater of Slater Prints. Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson will always be my fashion idols. Tash Sultana is a badass, with a great sound. And Michelle Visage on Rupaul’s Drag Race because she’s fierce.
What’s your favourite item for sale at the moment and why?
The Pelicans, they’re the latest edition and I love them. I’ve experimented with a new technique that gives the wings a really cool striped detail that I’m very happy with. They also seem to go with everything in my wardrobe and work well with the contours of the face and neck, so they’re definitely a winner in my book.
To check out Molly’s cute as a fricken button jewellery head over to her Etsy store. You can also see what she’s up to over on her Instagram. And talking about the grams, we’re running a competition over on the Littlewren Insty and giving away three pairs of Molly’s paddle pop earrings (featured above). So get on over there because it closes at midnight 28th July!