Lauren Ashley knew she wanted to create, but she didn’t want to limit herself. As the founder of Meraki by Lauren Ashley, a boutique Etsy jewelry shop based in Cincinnati, she focuses on designing and hand-making elegant and creative jewelry.
Ashley says she didn’t want the name of her shop to stop her impulses in creating beautiful things, so she went with a modern Greek word: meraki.
“It means to do something with pleasure, creativity, and devotion,” she explains. “At the time I decided to pick meraki, I was not exactly sure in which direction I wanted to take my humble jewelry shop. However, I did know that whatever I created would come from a place of genuine love for the art I was making.”
Currently Ashley is a one-woman show behind her shop, and she plans to keep it that way. “I like that Meraki is a creative space I can lead and take charge of depending on what inspiration strikes me in the moment,” she says. “It’s been rejuvenating to have an artistic outlet where there is no pressure to answer to anyone else’s creative expectations or moments.”
In the Meraki by Lauren Ashley shop, you’ll find a variety of handmade and specially designed clay earrings, gemstone earrings, pearl earrings, and hand-stamped pendant necklaces.
The clay earrings collection features simple yet elegant floral and plant imprinted pieces to clay earring scenes imitating the blue and white facades of Greece.
The gemstone-beaded earrings sold in the shop include pieces designed using sapphires, jade, mookatite jasper, agate, angelite, and other beautifully sourced semi-precious stones.
“I often design pieces using more than one type of stone while sometimes incorporating freshwater pearls and seashells to add texture and dimension to the earring,” says Ashley.
Something new that Ashley took on when she opened her shop was hand-stamped pendant necklaces. “I had not dabbled in metal-stamping before,” she says. “My pendant necklaces are definitely for those who appreciate minimalist everyday-wear jewelry.”
Ashley says that what makes her shop unique is that she focuses on what she wants to create rather than responding to outside pressures of what other creators are doing.
“I don’t want to design jewelry that I feel like I have to create for one reason or another,” she says. “This shop is meant to reflect what I find beautiful and what I hope others will too. If I started to create things I thought other people wanted me to create, then my work wouldn’t be as genuine.”
Ashley says that for the holidays, customers have been loving the white and blue clay earring collection. “The collection was inspired by my love for white and blue china and ceramic tiles,” she says. “I intend on expanding the collection soon, since I have more ideas I’d like to execute for it.”
Once the holidays are over, Ashley says she’s looking forward to the New Year and continuing to innovate, learn, and reach more of her potential as both a jewelry designer and a person in general.
“You never know what life has in store for you until you round the corner,” says Ashley. “Even though 2020 was chaotic, sometimes the most beautiful things are born from chaos. I’m hopeful that 2021 will be an illuminating and inspiring year for many.”
As we say goodbye to this year and hello to a new decade, Ashley says that she’s looking forward to what’s to come for her shop.
“I am very stoked to be learning the technique of metalsmithing soon,” she says. “I have been doing endless research on the trade and looking to invest in quality tools to begin creating new jewelry. I love being extremely hands-on with my work, hence why metalsmithing appeals to me; I want to be able to make the actual ring band, shape it, create the bezel for the gemstone to sit in, file, and polish it, etc. With metalsmithing tools and techniques, I’ll be able to solder metal together to make my own earring studs, rings, and pendants.”