Megan Greenwood is stunning; the type of old world beauty that surpasses the need for make-up or elaborate facades, with a smile that lights up the room. If you were to pick her up and drop her 1000 years into history, she would be ‘Megan, Siren of the Sea’, her myth written into children’s story books and her mysterious crafting magic envied by all that whispered her name.
Her jewellery label, Emgee, has been featured in Australian Country Style, Yen and The Sunday Mail, and her handcrafted pieces have been worn by the likes of local socialite Lady Petrova, right through to internationally recognized icon, Russell Brand. Megan was also recently named the RAW Australia Accessories Designer of the Year, which is no mean feat in a competition against thousands. The Fashion Advocate sent Katelyn Rew to interview Megan Greenwood and the fairytale that unfolded is inspiring…
Katelyn: Tell me a little bit about your background and how your jewellery line, Emgee, was born?
Megan: I grew up on a farm in country New South Wales, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and animals. Living in the country called for a good imagination and I often had to make my own fun! I would collect objects and turn them into sculptures and work with friends painting murals or sewing, and even designing gardens and homes – if it was creative, I gave it a go! I realised that if I were going to turn one of my passions into a career, I would need to focus on that one thing exclusively for a while though. I got serious in 2008 turning antique silver cutlery into little creatures, and this was the beginning of Emgee. I created my label, which I refer to as ‘her’, as an extension of me, as I find it easier to tell ‘her’ stories as a free spirited woman, a little bird who is full of adventures and imagination. I started taking custom orders when strangers approached me to ask what I was wearing, and then one month later I was stocked in 8 stores around Melbourne! In 2012/13 I studied at Box hill Institute and completed my Advanced Diploma in Engineering and Design in Jewellery. Straight after graduating I started curating my first runway show with RAW Melbourne, which is an indie arts show for up and coming artists and designers.
Katelyn: There is a sea theme throughout your work, is this something you have always been inspired by?
Megan: I have a few collections on the go at the moment, not all sea inspired, but to be honest for the past 3 years I have had a strong urge to be close to the sea. I have always been a water child and it’s something I miss most days! My work is mostly nautical themed but the inspiration does not just come from growing up around water or dreaming of mermaids. I draw a lot of inspiration from old black and white films, stage shows, and 1920’s photographs of beautiful women in their risqué costumes. One of my favourite reflections is a film by George Melies titled, ‘The Mermaid (La Sirene).’
Katelyn: Your work is extremely intricate with a certain delicate quality to it. What are the skills involved in making such beautiful individual pieces?
Megan: An eye for detail and a lot of patience! I have been collecting objects like rocks, seashells, feathers, bones and bugs since I was a child, and I love the textures of natural things. I have them next to me while I carve my wax pieces, which helps to create more intricate works.
Katelyn: You recently won the RAW Australia Accessories Designer of the Year award, which is such an incredible accomplishment! How has this impacted your life?
Megan: It was an amazing experience and one that I won’t forget! It gave me a taste of what it’s like putting shows together, working with models and artists, and meeting tight deadlines. I learnt a lot about myself and now know that I can do anything that I put my mind to. I still feel like I’m just getting started, however there are so many more avenues open to me now.
Katelyn: What is some advice for other jewellers starting out in the industry?
Megan: Make the things you wish existed! Get obsessed and keep on dreaming, and design all the time and don’t hold back. Don’t think about what you should or shouldn’t be making. If you love what you’re doing, others will too. Never stop learning, talk to others in the industry, and always think about ways to improve as a business. I will admit from experience, it does take time and money to make some of the most exciting pieces, and these are the two things that often hold me up, however I will not allow it to discourage me. Be a hard worker and it will pay off. And lastly but most importantly; do not compare your work with others, it’s really important to have faith in yourself and your own work.
Katelyn: People often describe your jewellery as wearable works of art. Would you ever branch out into other avenues like sculpture?
Megan: Definitely! I would love to one day create large sculptures that people can put in their homes or gardens – I already have designs drawn. Also, I would love to create fixtures, lamps, and tableware, my brain is a little overactive! My ideas roll from one thing into another and they just become bigger! It’s a little overwhelming at times.
Katelyn: You have worked with some fantastic fashion labels, models, and photographers over the years. Tell us about some of your favourite collaborations?
Megan: Everyone I have worked with has left me feeling so inspired! So much energy goes into these photo shoots, and you don’t realise how much preparation has gone into them until you have been involved in one. I have been lucky in the sense that I get approached by other artists to have my pieces in their shoots, and every single shoot has been so different. An underwater shoot I was involved in was definitely the most interesting to watch unfold. It looked so messy and awkward from above the water, however the images were breathtaking!
Katelyn: How does your own personal style affect your work?
Megan: I have been designing pieces that I think go with any style! You can layer my collections, or if you’re more into the simplistic look then my pieces look just as striking on their own. My personal style is quite eclectic and I wear a mix of vintage and modern fashion, from high wasted pants and skirts, silk tops, leather jackets, vintage fur, head wraps, and ocean and forest inspired prints. Just like my jewellery designs, I am also obsessed with textures and materials. Oh, and layers of jewellery!
Katelyn: If you could choose one celebrity to wear your pieces, who would it be and why?
Megan: Eeek! Can I choose two? Out of the boys, I would be over the moon to have Johnny Depp wear a few custom made pieces as I think he has the best style a man could have! Out of the girls I would choose Erin Wasson, I love her personal style and she also wears some pretty amazing jewels.
Katelyn: What are your goals for Emgee heading into the future?
Megan: I’m only two years graduated so I feel like there is still so much to do! At the moment I’m focusing on finishing current collections and getting my website up and running. My long-term goals are to create works for runway and film, and also open a shop or gallery/studio. I have two exhibitions in mind that I have been obsessing over, and I would love to collaborate with some of my favourite designers.
Guest Submission Interview: Katelyn Rew
Editor: Claire Goldsworthy
The Fashion Advocate x