Meet the Maker: Jewelry All-Star Lauren Matsumoto of Mitsymoto Designs
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Meet the Maker: Jewelry All-Star Lauren Matsumoto of Mitsymoto Designs

On this week’s edition of Meet the Maker, we’re excited to introduce Lauren Matsumoto, of Mitsymoto Designs. Lauren is jewelry designer, metalsmith, and sculptor—a true “triple threat” in the DIY world. She’s been hooked on jewelry making since she joined the ranks of “wrap star” after making her first friendship bracelets at the age of seven.

While she’s moved on from the embroidery floss, Lauren now creates amazing multidimensional pieces inspired by natural materials. Think insects, bones, minerals, and fossils. I promise it’s not as creepy as it sounds. I’m currently swooning over her line of airplane necklaces—they’re like elementary school gone chic. You’ll be able to check out these, and her other unique pieces at Re:Make on October 5th.

Read on for Lauren’s story.

First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Lauren Matsumoto, and I own Mitsymoto Designs. I design and make one-of-a-kind jewelry and wearable sculptures in San Francisco. I grew up in Chino Hills, CA. I’ve been making jewelry in some shape or form since the age of seven, when I took my first wire wrapping and pearl stranding classes. Throughout high school, I thought I would go into the science field but couldn’t shake my love of making things. Halfway through college, I decided to apply to art schools and ended up in the Fine Art Sculpture program at the Academy of Art University. Wide-eyed, I quickly signed up for jewelry and metalsmithing classes and scoured Craigslist for internships. After a few years interning and assisting other artisans, I was lucky enough to start Mitsymoto Designs. I’ve been running my business since July 2012, and I can’t image doing anything else.

When did you first realize you love to make?

When I was seven years old and started taking jewelry classes. I’ve been making friendship bracelets, wire wrapping, and beading since elementary school. From crafting and collaging to making jewelry for my friends, I’ve been a maker for as long as I can remember.

Why did you decide to start Mitsymoto Designs?

I was lucky enough to get my first “real” jewelry job in 2008. I’ve been working freelance, contract, and as an intern since then. After seeing what it was like to make and metalsmith wearable jewelry on a production level, I wanted to do it myself. I had purchased the domain for Mitsymoto.com in 2009, but I didn’t actually start my business until July of 2011. I was tired of making for other artisans rather than for myself, so I moved back to Southern California in October of 2011 to save up some money and start up my business. I was approached by Crafted in San Pedro to open up a little artisan shop and that’s when I got the ball rolling and officially started Mitsymoto Designs.

How do you come up with your designs?

I love to mess around and make things. For my line, I design pieces based on what I am inspired by at the moment. I post a lot of pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and pick and choose what to put into production based on the amount of likes and responses I receive.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Everywhere! I love texture, decay, bones, etc. My number one favorite thing to draw inspiration from are old illustrations of the body, insects, and minerals. I have an extensive collection of teeth, bones, fossils, minerals, and antique objects.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?

Work hard! There’s never really a moment of rest when you’re making your own creations to support your living. Also, be nice, and share your knowledge. Some of the most amazing people I have met have shared so much knowledge with me. Don’t give away all your secrets, but don’t be afraid to share with other creatives. We are all in this together, trying to create handmade markets in this time of mass production.

What other creative hobbies do you have?

I love to sculpt. I studied Fine Art Sculpture in school so I still love to make sculptures in my spare time and collaborate with other artists to make bronze, ceramic, and mixed media projects just for fun!

How has technology changed and supported what you do?

Technology has a huge impact on my business. As I mentioned before, social media helps me pick and choose which items I put into production. The computer is so helpful in terms of advertising and spreading the word of what I’m doing and for the most part its free and very accessible.

How do you think the analog world is changing as the digital world continues to boom?

I think we are getting back to the “analog” world. As much as we need digital, people are going back to appreciating the handmade, crafted world. We need both. I think we will always need both. I appreciate that as technology continues to evolve, it make my job easier in a lot of ways. I can adapt my processes to use new technology to produce some of my products. Machines can cut my work-time in half.

Have you fallen in love with Mitsymoto Designs yet? Then don’t forget! Lauren will be joining us at Re:Make on October 5th. Stop by Fort Mason from 11am-5pm to pick up a few pieces of her handcrafted jewelry.