Milame and Friends is a shared jewellery studio and shop in Cape Town. The studio is occupied by three jewellers and an artist/bookkeeper while the shop has handmade products from a great selection of local designers. We first spotted their enchanting vinyl in the window designed by Hanno van Zyl, and we went inside for a studio visit. Here’s our interview with owner of Milame and Friends and designer at Milame Designs Emma Atkinson about the dynamics of this shared space.
How did you find and choose the space that now hosts Milame and Friends?
Having a space like Milame and Friends was a vision of mine that was part of my ‘later on in life’ plan. Then one day I was sitting with one of my good friends Pammi-Joy from Presents in the Post telling her about my dream and she said: “why not now?”. So I took a really deep breath, went on gumtree, saw this space and went to have a look, and it was perfect. Then I began building the store.
Was it always the idea to share your studio space with other creatives?
I worked on my own from home for about a year after I finished studying and I always missed having people around to chat to, bounce ideas off of and feed each other’s creativity. There’s such a healthy variety of interesting people that occupy the space now.
How do you choose who gets to share the space with you and who gets to sell their products there? What’s the criteria?
I am all about having a bunch of different characters in one room, so I’m not really too picky about who wants to join the space. We have space for four other creatives and myself. I advertise on Facebook and Gumtree and have found a few people that way.
Who occupies the workshop now?
Neil’s mom saw my ad on gumtree and that’s how we met. Jess heard about my workshop at Design Indaba. She is quite new to the jewellery business so I offered to mentor her and teach her while she’s at Milame and Friends which has been lovely. Frey is an old friend of mine.
How does each individual add to the dynamics of the space?
Frey has been a wonderful addition to Milame and Friends. He has really helped me so much in running the business side of things so I can focus on designing and manufacturing jewellery. He works in a relaxed and calming manner and is such a pleasure to have around.
Neil is the best goldsmith I know, a skate boarder and just the sweetest human. He has taught me a lot in terms of technique and he finds such joy in the precise work he does. It is just inspiring to have him around in the workshop.
Jess is so excited about becoming a jeweller and I find myself being reminded everyday how lucky we are to be working at a profession we are so passionate about and simply love so much. She is eager to learn and brings a bubbly fun atmosphere along with her into the space.
Take us through a day at Milame? Any interesting rituals or habits to stay inspired?
Each day often turns out a bit different from the one before, however always begins with a cup of coffee and a little morning chatter. Then we make jewellery and listen to music while we do so. The nicest thing about working with other creatives is being able to talk about ideas and techniques. We all love having a bustling energy around when we work.
Please share your individual creative processes, from concept to final product.
All our jewellery is hand-made, hand drawn and hand sawn. It usually starts with drawing a design free hand onto the metal without using a stencil, which means each piece is unique. All of us love doing commissions too.
Any exciting projects we can look forward to?
Milame Designs just launched a new online store with worldwide shipping.
Neil and I are about to start a new company together which we are very excited about. We will be putting together Neil’s high-end manufacturing skills with my handmade feel and design skills to produce a high-end jewellery range focusing on wedding and engagement rings and bridesmaid and groomsmen jewellery. Its going to be glorious, so keep an eye out for us!
How can someone go about joining Milame and Friends?
We have two spots available at the moment if anyone is looking for a place to work.
Head to Shop 21, The Palmhof Centre, Union Street, Gardens (just off Kloof Street) to visit the studio and shop.
See Milame’s Website for more info or to shop some of Emma’s handmade products online.
Find Neil Hughes Jewellery on Facebook.
Find Yellow Jewellery on Facebook.