Cufflinks, tie clips, chains, what else?
While men tend to have fewer jewelry options than women, the pieces that made it to a man’s wardrobe tend to have significant meaning and lasting quality.
Perhaps it’s a family heirloom given at birth, or a gift from a loved one marked with irreplaceable memories, or a memorabilia from being the best man at your teenage buddy’s wedding.
Maria and Tomasz’s bespoke jewelry brand FEINFEIN is born for these moments. They are part self taught in goldsmithing, and although they started with women’s jewelry, Maria and Tomasz have been creating custom 925 sterling silver cufflinks, tie clips and accessories for men in Poland since 2012 for international customers in Europe, United States, Canada, Asia and Australia.
Working with both traditional and modern crafting skills, FEINFEIN is the bridge between givers and recipients of important gifts. This is their side of the story when it comes to gift-giving.
1. What is your background and how did you start the brand FEINFEIN?
After many late night hours spent in our amateur jewelry workshop, we both decided to quit our full-time jobs and start building our own “silvery” business.
It all began with a passion for jewelry and goldsmithing. It was not a rushed decision, but a long process with many steps and changes.
We have educational and professional backgrounds in management, graphics design and new technologies, but we gained goldsmithing skills only through self-study and practice. So basically, we are self-taught designers and jewelry makers.
Our first jewelry brand was for women’s jewelry: Personalized silver bracelets, necklaces and rings that were made to order. They were well-received, and when our customers started to ask about personalized men’s silver accessories, we realized that it was time to respond to those needs.
We took to the challenge for the first time, when a customer ordered customized initials cufflinks for a wedding. This generated unexpectedly positive results and finally led us to create our second jewelry brand focused on men.
The word “fein”, in the context of silver, means fine, pure and precious. By “FEINFEIN”, we mean to multiply these features, showing our strive for perfection and the highest quality. This is what we want to achieve in our daily work, not only in jewelry making, but also in every aspect of our company management and customer relationships. Of course, there is always a place for improvement, so every day we change at least one small thing.
2. How do you make sure custom orders is an enjoyable process for both the customer and you?
For us, the key is to work ”with a customer” instead of ”for a customer”.
We just love custom orders! It’s always a great way to break the routine.
We also truly believe in custom-made. Very often, we are amazed by the customers’ ideas. Designing from scratch is the only way to ensure high flexibility and respond to our customers’ individual needs. For us, the key is to work with a customer instead of for a customer. This makes a huge difference, especially in creative fields.
To ensure satisfaction for all sides, we always follow this process for each custom design:
1. Communication: we discuss ideas, answer questions and specify the details with the customer.
2. Preparing a design and visualisation: sharing it with a customer and making changes.
3. Starting the creation process.
4. Asking for feedback and opinions about the finished product.
Having the customer review a custom-made jewelry is the most anticipated moment for us during the entire process. Reactions are mostly very enthusiastic. It is the best reward from our job.
3. What new and traditional craft skills are you the most proud of in your work?
We are masters of hand-cutting! We don’t use professional milling machines, moldings or matrixes popular in our industry. Each of our jewelry piece is cut and finished by hand. This is why the most important skill, in our opinion, is the eye-hand coordination. Experience is essential, and only with years of practice can you achieve perfect results with your own hands and eyes.
The process of sterling silver jewelry making is very demanding. Digital arts have the significant advantage of instantly correcting mistakes and imperfections. However, with precious metal, in most cases there is no ”undo” button. This is the reason why eye-hand coordination is so important. It can only be achieved by hours and hours of beating on your craft. You need to be patient and respect the material.
As for modern, computer-aided techniques, we are very into laser engraving. We’ve been exploring it a lot in almost two years of daily work. We have perfected this technique and made engraving very detailed, precise and pretty durable. This is why we say our jewelry is made to last!
4. Why is creating personalized men’s jewelry meaningful for your customers and yourselves?
Here is a customer story that is meaningful to us.
In our tie clips collection, we have a cool scalpel tie clip design, which is a great gift idea for medical students, med grads or even doctors. Very often, we make this tie clip for special occasions like graduation.
Once, we received an order for this scalpel tie clip to gift to a surgeon. It almost would have been an ordinary order with personalization on the back. However, the engraving text read:
”For the man who gave me my life back.”
Those were very personal and emotional words, because this doctor saved this man’s life.
With such stories, we realize that quite often our jewelry pieces are a part of something important in people’s lives—we always try to remember that.
5. Where do you get ideas and inspirations?
Being inspired means to observe a lot.
Our inspirations come from our customers! When you have so many creative people around you, all you need is great craftsmanship to make all their ideas real!
Of course, that’s only half the answer. We need our own inspirations to create original designs that customers will love. For us, being inspired means to observe a lot. That is our recipe and a daily habit. We observe the surrounding, media, architecture, and people. We get ideas and inspirations from our daily lives and try to extract interesting findings from them.
As for dealing with creative blocks? Well… relax and refocus. This is always the best way to overcome a block. Just take a break and don’t rush things. Eat chocolate that is at least 85% cacao. Fuel your mind with images. Take a walk, watch, learn… do nothing!
Thoughts are very whimsical. From time to time, ideas come, but ultimately you want to be laser-focused to create something solid.
6. Please share with us a few tips for a gentleman to properly wear lapel pins or tie clips.
When it comes to tie clips (or tie bars), the positioning is of the utmost importance. They are often worn too high or low—the ideal position to place your tie clip is between the third and fourth button.
A tie clip should never be wider than the tie itself. The length of the tie clip should be either the same width as the tie or shorter. We usually make the standard 6 cm length or shorter 5 cm ones, but custom length is also possible.
The tie clip should also act as a practical solution in keeping your tie in place. This is done by attaching the back of your tie clip to the shirt itself.
When you have your brand new lapel pin, remember that it should always be positioned on your left (left hand side) lapel. Avoid wearing it next to your pocket square or on your right lapel, because it will spread out the details and dull the effect.
When you attach your lapel pin you can pierce the stem through the buttonhole often found on your lapel. If your suit doesn’t have one, pierce straight through the material. Don’t worry about marking your suit because the hole will close and leaves no visible signs when removed.
As you can see, these are very simple tips worth knowing. Always remember, friends, the devil is in the detail!
8. Lastly, what words of advice would you give to aspiring designers who want to start a brand?
Building a brand is a difficult, complex process and it takes a lot of time and effort. There is no place for shortcuts. You have to keep learning your craft, your market and your customers all the time, because things are always changing. Develop the skill to change with them and respond.
In the beginning, you are responsible for all aspects and all activities, including the non-creative parts like admin work. You must love what you do, because it is the only way you will find energy to push things forward, especially through difficult moments.
Words of advice? It may sound simple or even naive, but be creative and stay realistic at the same time. Be focused and never give up 😉
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