Miju

Take one part graphic designer and add one part woodworker. The result? A fabulous jewelry company called Miju and You. Canadian artists Judy Lawrence and Mike Giles are like many etsians—running a small passion business on the side while working full time jobs. Here’s how they make it work.

What prompted you to start making jewelry?
I am a graphic designer by day and love what I do, but the company I work for is very corporate (in other words, not alot of room for creativity).
My partner/boyfriend Mike, is a woodworker and designer. He acquired a laser machine a few years ago and at that point we decided to utilize our mutual talents to create something together and give me an outlet to vent my creativity.

Tell us about your process—start to finish.
We do all the laser cutting ourselves. I design and create the digital files for the laser machine and then pass them on to Mike who prepares the wood, laser cuts it and brings it home to me where I paint, wrap, assemble, package and ship accordingly.
Initially, we began working with acrylic plastic but found it very brittle and pieces were getting damaged too easily.
We then move on to working with walnut. With Mike being a woodworker, off-cuts are plentiful!
I find the walnut has a much richer quality to it than the acrylic and much more resilient.

Where do you work?
The lasering and wood preparation is all done in Mike’s studio. He shares that space with a number of other designers of various backgrounds which gives it a wonderfully stimulating vibe.
Most of what I do for miju is done in our home. I have a small space set up in our basement. Not the most stimulating but it keeps me focused and is readily accessible.

What is your greatest challenge?
Time!

What inspires you?
We draw inspiration daily from numerous sources but i find we are both the most creative while traveling.
There is so much more going on it the world besides what immediately surrounds us and when you immerse yourself in a new environment, ideas start to flow – for us at least.

How did you discover etsy.com? Any beginner mistakes? Is etsy your full time job?
We have a number of very talented friends that were selling on etsy long before we were. When we decided to start making our own creations back in 2008, our friends were great resources for direction and tips on making our store more visible.
Our beginner mistakes were probably most prominent when it came to shipping products. The acrylic that we initially began working with was very delicate and we had a few items arrive damaged. After a few revisions to packaging, we sorted that out but have since moved on to other materials for that very reason.
Being full time workers (we both have “day jobs”) and full time parents often makes it hard to put as much focus in to miju as we’d like although, we’ve both been tailoring our schedules to try and give it a little more time as it’s treated us well thus far.

Where else can readers find your work?
We have a few independant boutiques that sell our goods throughout Canada, USA & France.

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