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Art & Life with Maria Belokurova

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Belokurova.

Maria, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born and raised in USSR. As many kids from Russia, I became an engineer but I always had a passion for art. I moved to the United States at the age of twenty-one, and I rediscovered my desire to create something pretty. I’m recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago in May and received my second bachelors degree in Fashion design minoring in Fashion Business. I have lived in Chicago for the last four years and my work during this time has been related to fashion.

While taking my Advanced Garment Construction class, I was introduced to leather. It’s a beautiful natural material to work with. In my first experience working with leather, I created two single strap bracelets and a couple of simple rings with rivets. I believe at this moment my business side took over my creating and I decided to sell my work at the Student Consignment Shop, where my sales were strong and consistent.

In May 2018, I was a featured artist at Manifest Urban Fest where I met the CEO of Seton Leather Innovation center. He saw my work and offered to donate leather to me. It was the moment when I realized that a sustainable fashion and up-cycled jewelry line is a perfect niche for my growing business.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I usually find inspiration in possibilities. I see material and crazy ideas come to my mind of what to do with it. All of my jewelry is handmade pieces designed exclusively by me. Most of the items could be customized, but many of them are one of a kind products due to material limitation. I try to find unique metal pieces to make my leatherwork look different and interesting. Some of my metal parts are disassembled retail products that you could find in many stores.

By using donated leather, I want to show people that sometimes unwanted material pieces could be turned into beautiful things. Knowing the amount of waste that is produced yearly by the Fashion Industry, I wanted to make my contribution in minimalizing this numbers.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
I always give one piece of advice, and that is when people say work hard and you will get it – work harder and you will get it for sure. It’s very difficult to start and run business, and I have to learn something new every day. So, there are so many hats that I need to wear in order to deliver excellent service and unique products to my customers. As a small business owner, I am my own shipping department, manager and marketing agent. Therefore, when I receive compliments about my work, I feel all of my hard work paying back.

I think all the lessons, good or bad, were learned at a time when I needed it. I wouldn’t change anything to be honest, only because I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am now without them.

“Like wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.” – E.V.

What’s the best way for someone to check out yo ur work and provide support?
I believe if you dream then you should dream big. In the future, I would love to have my own store and my own clothing and accessory line. Now, people can see and purchase my work at pop-up shops, markets, and art fairs. I do have an Instagram (@Eva_Airam_Studio_Boutique) and Facebook page (@ Eva Airam Studio) where I post upcoming market updates as well as my newest jewelry. I sincerely believe in giving back to the community, and I have made it my mission to donate 10% of my sales to the local charities. By buying my handmade jewelry, customers will also support a great cause. I still sell my line at the Columbia College Chicago Student shop, and it’s a great consignment store to visit (619 S Wabash, Chicago, IL). Currently, I’m working on my website that will be live in the middle of October 2018.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
some of the photos made by me and some made by Vlada Sanickaya

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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