We chatted with Meghan Hayes of Dottir about her experience as a business owner and artist.
Meghan is an artist and jeweler, working out of her Minnesota studio. She creates handcrafted earrings, necklaces, and rings inspired by nature, clean lines, and Scandinavian design. Using bronze and silver to make individual cut pieces, Meghan’s business, Dottir, reflects the values of simplicity and elegance found in Nordic culture. You can find a special selection of her jewelry here. I asked Meghan about how Dottir began and where her design concepts come from.
Can you tell me about the beginning of Dottir? How has the brand changed since then and what are your goals for the future?
My jewelry business began in 2012, under the name ByMN, and I mostly made painted geometric leather pieces—very different from where I’m at today! I started taking soldering and metalsmithing classes in 2014, and my work evolved with the new skills. I rebranded as Dottir in 2015 to reflect this new direction of my art and in early 2017, I began working with the jewelers saw. That meant I could use my illustration background and translate my drawings into metal. This was a turning point for me, as it dramatically expanded what I was able to do with the metal. Now, all of my work begins with a hand-drawn illustration, which becomes a pattern that I can apply directly to the surface of the sheet bronze and silver that I then hand-cut with my saw.
My first hand-sawn design was the GROW necklace (pictured left). I draw inspiration from traditional Scandinavian florals, nature, and geometric designs combined with my personal illustration style. As much as my brand has evolved over the years, I’m always looking for new ways to innovate. I love stone-setting and have a huge collection of stones waiting to make their way into my pieces. I have also enjoyed creating pieces for special occasions, such as weddings, and plan to develop dedicated collections that cater to this.
What is your personal Nordic connection? How does that influence your work?
I am Swedish on both my mother’s and father’s sides, as well as Norwegian on my mother’s side. I wanted to pull from that background as a way to make Dottir feel rooted in something personally significant. The use of traditional floral motifs, as well as the clean, minimal aesthetic of many of my pieces are ways that this connection shows up in my work.
What does the word Dottir mean to you?
I chose Dottir as a nod to traditional Scandinavian naming systems. Being a daughter and a female artist is a part of my maker identity, and Dottir honors that.
Your pieces draw a lot from natural elements. What inspires your designs?
I am always on the lookout for bits of inspiration. Spending time outdoors is a major source, especially during season transitions. Architecture, vintage illustration, and geometry have all found their way into my work. I like to play with line and form, occasionally texture, and always focus on the final wearability of a piece.
Why do you work with the mediums you work with?
I love the warmth of bronze and the iciness of silver. I also consider the accessibility of my work, and want my jewelry to be affordable. Working especially with bronze allows me to create illustrative statement pieces that are not cost-prohibitive.
What is the best part about owning your own business? What is the hardest?
The best parts (so much to love!) about owning my own business are the complete flexibility and freedom to create my own schedule, the ability to work on projects that inspire me, traveling for shows, and having the agency to continually reimagine the course of my work. The hardest part of owning my own business is juggling the many aspects that are necessary beyond the creative part—marketing, bookkeeping, networking, inventory management, customer service, social media, and more. The actual making can sometimes take a back seat to all of the necessary everyday operations.
Will you be doing any in person events this year?
I have a few shows lined up for the summer and early fall:
- Stone Arch Bridge Festival, June 19-20
- Wayzata Art Experience, June 26-27
- Grand Marais Arts Festival, July 10-11
- Minnehaha Falls Art Fair, July 16-18
- Excelsior Art on the Lake, September 18-19