Our Creatives ♡ X ELISSA @ KANOJO_CHAINS
2020 has been the year that many of us have been able to truly work on pursing our hobbies and passions since the busyness of life feels like it has been temporarily paused. Full time Waseda University student Elissa Wickham has done just this; using her free time to work on opening her own small online jewellery business and allowing her creative mind to roam free. In her interview, Elissa talks more about where her love for making jewellery stemmed from, the concept behind her brand and also her next steps. Supporting small businesses has become more important than ever. Local Love is what we need to promote right now.
Tell us what ‘Kanojo Chains’ means to you? Why this name for your jewellery brand?
I don’t have a super deep reason for the name of my store.
'Kanojo can mean woman, her, she, or girlfriend in Japanese. I guess I liked the ambiguity of the term.'
I kind of identify with that ambiguity, and the chains come from me, so yeah, that’s the name I picked.
What inspired you to open your shop?
I’ve always made my own jewelry because I can’t really find any pieces I like or want for myself sold in stores. I love the way gold jewellery looks, but the ones that are mass produced go green so fast, so even if i found a piece I liked, it would be unwearable in two weeks or so.
'I started to make my own stacks of chains about 2 years ago, and have received so many compliments disguised as “Where can I buy that?”.'
I started to offer to make pieces for people, and the shop was just an easy way for people to select designs that they wanted.
Where did you learn to make jewellery and how do you balance doing college and running your shop?
I learned to make jewelry from a little craft kit and book set for teens that my mom got me when I was 12. I ended up really loving it, so my mom got me more advanced books on how to use jump rings and wire and whatnot, and so I’ve been making my own jewelry ever since.
Making jewelry is my hobby, so I usually just do it in my free time. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of free time, but it’s not a huge deal. Balancing my schoolwork and running my shop basically hinges on me reaching out to everyone who’s ordered and letting them know I am a one woman show. I give them as much information as possible like, “Hey, I have a paper due tomorrow, and I’m doing this over the weekend, and so I will make them and send them out in five days.” People are very kind, and they’re usually students too, so it hasn’t been a problem.
Where do you get inspirations for your designs from?
My original inspiration to wear an ungodly number of necklaces came from Miley Cyrus. Except I didn’t know where she got hers from, and I don’t have as much money as her, so I started to make stuff that could be stacked and layered.
I usually just go to this one jewelry parts store in Asakusabashi, where they have 4 entire floors of parts for jewelry making, and an entire wall of chain that you can purchase by the meter. I’ll usually be drawn to a type of chain and pull a couple meters of that, and then look around and find some other type of chain or charms that would go well with it and it becomes a four hour trip and I end up with like eight different necklace designs.
A lot of inspiration also comes from my friends! A lot of my friends ask me to make pieces for them, so when I go to the store, I might find a chain that I think that friend would like, and build a set from there. That’s why a lot of my pieces are named after people.
Sometimes I’ll also see a piece in a shop and know that I can make a cuter version for cheaper and more high quality. One of my sets was inspired by three necklaces I purchased for 60 USD and I truly thought they would look cute together, and they didn’t, so I made a version that was thinner, more wearable, and shinier.
What is your favourite piece you have made so far?
Oof. I like all my pieces, really. I make stuff that I would wear and do wear, and I make a lot of pieces that I mix and match on the daily. After I make a sample piece, I always try it on, and if it doesn’t get an internal “ooh girl that’s so cute” from me, it doesn’t go up on the shop. I know that people love the Elisa choker, Jane chain, and butterfly choker. I get the most orders for those designs.
The piece I’m wearing the most right now is the Inez choker. It’s mixed metal. I’ve always wanted to try that out and have made many failed designs that I just didn’t like and I love this one.
What are your goals for ‘Kanojo Chains’?
'My goals are to make people feel cute. I like seeing people try on the pieces I’ve made for them and feel cute. Guys and girls.'
I don’t really make a profit on my orders, the prices are just high enough to cover the materials and also my train fare to go to the other side of Tokyo to get more materials. Right now, that’s fine by me, but who knows what the future holds.