what three to five words would you use to describe your work?
stylish, chic, unique
what inspires you?
Avant-garde fashion and originality really inspire us to push the boundaries (at least a little) and create large, voluminous, inventive pieces that women can’t find in the mainstream. Originally, we only used semiprecious stones in our work, and at that time, the inspiration was directly derived from the material, itself…. Now that we have an established customer base, we allow our customers – from the stylish, trendy “it” girl, to the older, stylish sophisticate - be the main influence in our work.
what was your first job? when/how did you know you wanted a career in art?
My sister and I both have advanced educations. I (Malene, the “inal” in iram-inal designs) obtained a Juris Doctorate (law degree) in 2003, while Mari (the “iram” in iram-inal) has a biology degree, and is very close to completing her requirements to earn a Doctorate of Chiropractic. We both worked in various positions throughout the past five years, all in offices, and all requiring the traditional “office wear” of a suit.
Our want to start a career as jewelry designers happened organically. While I was attending law school in upstate New York, I began to make jewelry as a way to stay connected to the creative side. Making jewelry was a quick, easy way to be creative and to immediately show off the fruits of my labor. While working in Providence, RI after earning my degree, my mother started demanding large, voluminous semiprecious stone pieces from me and my sister. Once her friends began to ask for custom pieces, a budding business was born.
your work is so modern and fresh - describe your design process? Tell us about how you were inspired to use recycled materials.
Thank you for the compliment. Throughout the past two years, we’ve gone more from an “artistic” line to a “fashion” line, and thereby follow the flow of the fashion season, creating two main collections a year. Each collection has 5-6 different lines on which we focus.
I (Malene) have always been an avid recycler, freecycler and upcycler, and Mari has directly followed the path of our parents and lives her life in an organic, natural way, to the extent of growing her own food (a feat to which I aspire). When we first started the business, we used semiprecious stones because that’s what we saw being sold in the market.
We realized that our solitary use of stones was in direct contravention of the way we were choosing to live our lives; we also simultaneously recognized that we could tap into an entirely new, fresh market of customers who choose to live their lives in a similar, “green” way.
We began to incorporate used, upcycled and “found” materials into our work, and some of these lines have become our most popular to date. Our “green” line is made from recycled palm tree and Korean boxwood woods, which are turned into beads from remnants after furniture making. Also, all of the woods come from FSC (Forest Steward Certified) forests, and the palm wood is only harvested from a certain part of the tree during specific portions of the year; this cutting schedule is to ensure that no tree is ever fully cut down, and the trees are allowed to regenerate.
We also now have a fabric line of necklaces made from upcyclced jersey cotton tee-shirts, and several lines that use old hardware materials as the base for the earrings, rings and pendants. Although we still use some semiprecious stones to satisfy a portion of our client base, we will continue to strive to use more and more recycled materials in our lines for as long as we’re designing jewelry.
design books/blogs you can't live without
I love modish, Corridor 40 (for great Midwest fashion, where Mari and I are from), Refinery 29, décor8, and Making It Lovely.
what do you do when you are not doing art?
Honestly, our business is so new that I don’t have time to do anything but work on the business! However, if my entrepreneur husband mandates (he also owns his own business), we’ll go to the movies or get a nice meal at a new restaurant in Atlanta, if time allows.
name one thing about you that would shock the outside world.
We love fashion, but both my sister and I are sci-fi geeks to the hilt! Give us Star Trek (next gen), Battlestar Galatica (best show on tv, ever), Lost, V (watched the original mini-series, too), and anything that has a modern-take and commentary on today’s social constructs.
what city in the world best describes you?
Chicago. It’s Midwestern (we were raised in St. Louis, MO), chic, sophisticated, large, and fashion-forward with nice people. To us, it’s the best of all things a big city can provide (and there’s grass and trees! J).
Gaining market share in stores West of the Mississippi (right now, we sell in boutiques in GA, TN, MO, IL, NY, FL, Washington D.C., and MI), and preparing our line to enter into the wholesale market. Once we enter the “marketplace,” we expect large, rapid growth. The hope is to one day see iram-inal jewelry in larger retailers, like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Henri Bendel. We’ll continue to create great, large, voluminous, chic wear for bold women, and hope to see our designs on our customer base all over America and Internationally!