Bringing a whole bunch of me made magic to the Melbourne/Naarm markets is slow clothing label Maker & Mineral! Known for their two-toned linen garments and patchwork colour combinations, M&M creates eco-conscious and ethically hand-crafted clothing for the modern person. We caught up with the maker Samantha Ives to learn more about the brand, and her story and find out what she’s bringing to the markets on July 8-10 at the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton.
Hey Samantha, introduce yourself!
I’m Samantha, the human behind Maker & Mineral, a made to order clothing label based in Brunswick, Vic. I am originally from San Francisco and moved to Melbourne 4.5 years ago. I create custom made to order clothing for people of many sizes and for people who don’t always feel at ease when trying to fit into standard sizing.
Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you got started?
Maker & Mineral is a minimal waste, ethical, seasonless, size-inclusive, made-to-order clothing label for the person who would prefer a closet stocked with well-loved meaningful clothing as opposed to one full of cheap fast fashion. The brand came from a lifetime of sewing and crafting (thanks to my grandmother) and a desire to make the kind of colourful layer-able clothing that I wanted to wear at the time. It has always just been me, Samantha Ives, cutting, printing, sewing, pressing, and packing your unique orders myself. So, when you reach out, it is me on the other end!
What’s something people might not know about you?
I’m named after one great grandfather and do the same job as another great grandfather! *I’ve recently gotten quite interested in my ancestry considering I have never known much about my family tree. All of my great grandparents immigrated to the US in the early 1900s fleeing pogroms against Jewish people in Eastern Europe. Because working in textile factories was one of the few jobs available to Jewish immigrants at the time, it’s no surprise that a few of my ancestors worked in the garment industry. One great grandfather, in particular, Philip, worked his way up from a pattern maker to factory manager of a fancy womenswear brand called Molly Parnis. His daughter – my grandmother Harriet, learned needlecraft at a young age and then passed that knowledge on to my mother and then onto me. It feels both strange and special to know that textiles play such a major role in my family history and are such a major part of who I am.
What got you through the last two years as a small business owner?
Honestly… my business kind of got ME through these last 2 years. Sewing clothing and being able to MAKE THINGS had always felt like a meditative practice to me. So, in the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, being able to sew brought me a lot of needed inner peace and stability. In normal times, working alone can feel lonely and isolating, but I started to feel thankful for the solitary work during lockdowns because it meant that I could continue to sew and continue to find that inner peace. And in the process of communicating with customers about Melbourne lockdowns, needing to isolate because of exposure, or postal delays, I got to develop new and deeply honest relationships with my customers as we all struggled with our new reality. Other than work, my cat Juniper pulled a lot of weight in getting me through.
What is your creative guilty pleasure? What do you do for creative play and creative self-care?
Well, I don’t feel too guilty about it anymore, but watching Gilmore Girls, Schitt’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Parks and Rec pretty much on a loop has become a big part of my “creative process.” TV feels like a comfort zone for me and watching something that I already know that I love, tends to put me in the right headspace to create. I also used to listen to Harry Potter on repeat, but as JK Rowling has destroyed that series for so many of us, I have replaced the books with the podcast ‘Witch Please.’ I often try to do my creative play with other forms of textiles that are not part of my business, like knitting or weaving. But recently playing with my linen scraps and offcuts to make patchwork clothing has been the most exciting to my creative brain. The exploration of mixing and matching colours and patterns feels so satisfying and can give me the push to go back to sewing pieces I have sewn so many times before.
Where is your favourite place to get inspired in Melbourne?
For me, inspiration has often come in or around water. (I was definitely a fish/mermaid in a past life) 2 years ago I might have said the NGV or listed a few Melbourne galleries because I love looking at art and drawing inspiration from colour or linework. But things have really changed and nature, especially around water, has become my go-to for inspiration. The cliff face around Point Addis, the informal pathways created by years of exploration around the Merri Creek, the patterns in the mud at Yarra Bend (I’ve even created a yet to be released design based on this mud), the trees and rock structures of Darebin Parklands are all some of my favourite places around Melbourne. Textures and colour patterns formed by nature are some of the most inspiring to me and definitely play a role in my work.
What can shoppers expect from your stall at this event?
I am going to bring a selection of the staples like the ‘Handsy’ and ‘Mask for Mask’ prints in addition to a variety of Half N’ Half pieces. But, most excitingly for me, there will also be lots of new scrappy piecework like one-of-a-kind tops, dresses, and jumpsuits made from our own remnants and leftovers. Since Maker & Mineral is predominantly a made-to-order brand, I am so excited to use the ‘waste’ I create during normal production to bring unique pieces to my first in-person market in almost 4 years!!!! There will be a private changing room and mirror in the stall to take some guesswork out of fitting!