A CONVERSATION WITH PAULINE MACCAY

Pauline Maccay is the Filipino American designer of handmade by pmaccay. Each pair of earrings is named after and dedicated to people in her life who has encouraged her to keep moving forward.

”Growing up, I didn’t have any other Filipino American artists and designers to look up to due to lack of exposure. The goal of my brand is to make large statement jewelry for all. It’s about the diversity of folx who wear my pieces, that’s the beauty. I received a BA in Art Practice at UC Berkeley with a focus on sculpture and installation, but I fell in love with clay sculpture in high school. I’ve been working with clay as a medium ever since. When making jewelry my goal is to create large statement pieces while being as light as possible. Polymer clay was the type of clay material that helped me achieve that. I wish to share my creaions with you in the hope that you find the perfect statement piece that will best represent you and your most confident self!”

Pauline Maccay

The designer begins by mixing together various types of polymer clay to create a sturdy base. Then she adds various pigments together to make a desired color before cutting them into shape. From there, she bakes the batch until it becomes sturdy yet bendable. Once cooled, the clay goes through a process of sanding, buffing, coating, and drilling before adding brass or pressed plant accents. There are also certain pairs of earrings I paint specific designs over and apply gold flakes and a resin finish. Since these are created by hand and at home it may include some beautiful imperfections, but we love imperfections!

Polymer clay is durable and bendy. However, sharp objects may scratch the surface so it is best to store it in its own jewelry compartment. To clean polymer clay jewelry, wipe it off with a piece of soft fabric. Rubbing alcohol can be applied to wipe away stains such as make up. To maintain the pressed plant accents it’s best to store the piece in a shaded area. Brass can tarnish overtime when exposed to humidity, but can be easily cleaned with a mixture lemon and baking soda.

A CONVERSATION WITH PAULINE MACCAY

Describe yourself as creative and how your label was born? 

Accessories to me are everything. It defines style and creates conversation. To me, it is the most important part of an outfit. In my process of creating I go back home, to my roots, back to the pieces that define me and I take that and transform it into the physical, into wearables. 

I began making earrings for myself for fun. I wanted large bold earrings, but most of them were too heavy for my ears. I couldn’t find the exact pair of earrings that represented me and what I was looking for. I’ve had several years of experience as a clay sculptor so I really wanted to use clay as a medium and after some research, I discovered polymer clay. Polymer Clay was a perfect medium for me to experiment with because it was lightweight and not too fragile, I am able to shape it into any form I want and convey exactly. I was finally able to make the earrings that represented me and my most confident self. While wearing the earrings out, people began asking me where I bought the earrings. At first I was giving them to friends as gifts, but more and more people became interested and I needed more funds to purchase materials so I began selling the earrings. Due to growing demand, I was able to transform my DIY project into a small business. 

How do you manage the creativity process exactly as it’s really challenging nowadays in fashion industry?

Because of how fast the fashion industry moves, it is easy to become consumed and influenced by its trends, especially when one is constantly trying to catch up with it. Although it is helpful to understand the trends, it can also reduce creativity. It is something I still struggle with, but what I often do to break it out is to go back to my roots. Though it is quite challenging, I take breaks from social media. It brings me peace and allows me to focus more. The more time I spend finding clarity about who I really am and owning my own identity, that’s when I feel like I reach my full creative potential.

What is the most challenging issue for an independent label? 

The most challenging issue for a small business is the lack of funds. The best way for my business to grow is to hire a team, and when there isn’t enough funds it’s difficult to maintain a team. I am a one person team doing all the work, this takes away time and energy I can use to create. 

What’s the main impact of social media in both ways, buying and brand marketing? 

Social media has helped increase the sales and exposure of my brand. More importantly, it has given me access to my customers giving me a chance to connect with them.

How do you manage to choose your models in order to spread better the diversity issue through your label?

The models I choose to represent my jewelry are my friends, the people who inspire me. We come from underrepresented communities, so I want to use the opportunity for us to take space and claim our identity. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge regarding your work?

The biggest challenge for me is having Impostor syndrome, which is a feeling of inadequacy or feeling like a fraud even though there is evident success. Imposter syndrome can downplay our accomplishments because we get caught up in chasing that next level of success. 

For me, I think it’s rooted in perfectionism and the fear of failing, but focusing on that stalls progress. Being one’s own worst critic is common for creatives and it can happen to anyone. Once I became aware of this pattern, I’ve been practicing different ways to overcome this challenge. 

How do you think your label can play an important role in your daily client’s life?

Most of the feedback I get from customers is how happy and confident they feel wearing the jewelry I make along with all the compliments they receive from others. The jewelry are simply agents that help guide the wearer to believe in oneself. My brand’s main goal is to celebrate the wearer and their most confident self. 

What do you think about the opportunity of selling your pieces online nowadays?

I think e-commerce is wonderful for small businesses like me especially in terms of being accessible to more people. Due to ecommerce, people who live out of the country can access  my shop. It has also given me the opportunity to do wholesale and connect with stores around the world: https://handmadebypmaccay.com .

Imagine that you must write a letter to your FUTURE SELF. What would you write?

I would simply say no matter what happens don’t forget to stay authentic and true to yourself. 

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