Tell us more about your journey to founding Machete - when did you begin handmaking jewelry? Where did you learn? Where do you draw your design inspirations?
I’d say my journey begins with my interest in vintage clothing. Growing up, my mother and grandmother were always very interested in vintage furniture and vintage art, so throughout high school, I began collecting a lot of vintage pieces, specifically vintage clothing. I was very inspired by what I had collected and decided I either wanted to create my own line inspired by the vintage pieces I had collected, such as taking those original pieces and making something new.
But during this time, I found out I was having my third child and knew taking on the project simultaneously would be overwhelming for me, so I put the idea on pause.
But a few years later, I started exploring this idea again. I traveled to New York and attended A Current Affair. I spoke to a lot of people, and one inspired me to use my eye to try out jewelry. Jewelry was smaller, easier to travel with, and more conducive for my life at the time to work with, so I began selling vintage jewelry pieces instead of clothing. I cut these vintage jewelry pieces and created new pieces with them. I had a small collection and began selling them online — it sold out within 48 hours. I was a bit taken aback, but I realized that there was a huge opportunity here. That’s when I decided to take a major pivot into jewelry.
I started playing with a lot of shapes — cutting pieces off one and adding to another. I didn’t like anything that appeared super busy, so I tried to make them more simple and minimalistic. But, I couldn’t really sustain that for long, because it was time consuming and hard to find new things and also photograph each unique one.
Eventually, I found deadstock acetate and started contacting European factories and manufacturers to see what they could do with it and develop this line that I started to envision – this entire process took about a year and a half. The factory I ended up going with provided some archival acetate that had never been used, and I was able to pick materials that I was really drawn to. That was just the beginning for Machete.
Why did you choose cellulose acetate? Can you tell us more about your products?
I initially found cellulose acetate at thrift stores and on eBay. My mother and grandmother had always been around refurbishing and altering their antique finds and it opened my eyes to how everything can be transformed. My grandmother was interested in rugs and furniture whereas my mother was very interested in sculpture and art – raw materials like marble and stone. Their influence taught me at a young age how to be resourceful, and it has become second nature to me. Now, when I look at a piece or design a colorway of acetate, I choose the colors I want to work with and consider how I can make them look a certain way.
A lot of my inspiration comes from natural elements of what I grew up with, and “online traveling” as well. I’ve lived in Maine and Florida, so I have always been inspired by the water. My college degree was in Art History, so I take a lot of inspiration from my education in sculpture and art in how I incorporate colors.
Machete Midi Heirloom Claw and Machete Circle Mirror.
What does sustainability mean to you/Machete and can you share more about Machete’s sustainability efforts?
Not every material we use is sustainable, but I do work with formulated acetates. I work with an Italian company which creates different types of acetate for our jewelry. One example is Acetate Renew – taking leftover acetate and creating a new slab – all of their acetate is no waste. We also use bioplastics, plant-based products, and materials from renewable resources. There are five colors we use that are completely biodegradable and as that technology advances, we want to expand our production into that direction. Apart from the actual products, we use sustainable practices with our shipping by using biodegradable clear zip bags rather than dust bags, vegetable ink for printing, and biodegradable packaging. We are always trying to advance our sustainability efforts and continue to contribute to organizations that are promoting sustainable business practices.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as you’ve grown your company?
The biggest lesson I have learned is to stay true to your vision, your heart, and to honor your art. Within two months of launching my collection, I was approached by other brands to develop their jewelry lines, but they had asked me to make things under the Machete brand that didn’t match my vision and didn’t feel true to my own brand. I don’t do that anymore and strive to focus solely on my own brand.
Our brand was built on the brand pillars of empowering “women to do it all.” What does being a “woman who does it all” look like for you as a female founder and a designer?
As a female founder and as a designer I lean into my family and therapy to constantly empower myself. My family has instilled within me the belief that women can really do it all. You can work for hours all day, be successful, and happy with your job while also spending time with family. There is a balance to be found, so you can also do everything in between too. Having it all is really all about following your vision – having health, nice company, loving the people you work with, and communication at work and at home. Having a healthy workplace and a healthy home is key.
SENREVE Aria Belt Bag in Pebbled Cream, SENREVE Coda Belt Bag in Pebbled Blush, Machete Midi Heirloom Claw and Machete Circle Mirror.
You’ve been introducing a lot of new products lately - can you give us any hint on what categories you’ll be exploring for 2021?
This year we will be exploring a home collection incorporating recycled Machete pieces from customers.
What are you most excited for in 2021?
For 2021 I am looking forward to pulling back from the industry pressure of production, rushing through colors and collections, and always thinking of what’s next. Producing collections is much more joyful when done slowly. There is a lot of pressure associated with getting things out on time and meeting deadlines – letting go of the typical fashion calendar and putting things out there that I am proud of is much more fulfilling. I am most importantly looking forward to being really intentional with the time that I spend with my co-workers, friends, family and having the most fun possible. 2021 is all about fun for me.
We are honored to have JJ Matchett as a Selected By SENREVE partner for her affinity for vintage fashion and approach and recycled Machete pieces.