|Melissa wearing one of her chain link and leather necklaces and a whole array of pretty Frost Finery rings.|
The first time I met Mel was in a coffee shop in Lawrenceville. She was loaning me one of her beautiful powder-coated adjustable leaf rings, to feature in the fall issue of Table magazine. The ring never made it back to Mel. I purchased it as soon as the shoot was over and I’ve worn it almost every day since.
I’m a huge fan of Frost Finery, it has everything I like in a collection – bold, statement pieces sit harmoniously alongside delicate, feminine pieces. They mix and layer masterfully allowing you to adorn yourself with pieces that marry perfectly with your personal style, and (as Mel mentions in our interview below) they’re pieces you can (and will want to) wear every day. They’re staple pieces that encompass versatility and longevity. If you own a piece from Frost Finery, you can be sure you’ll be wearing it (and loving it) for years.
For our photo-shoot Mel invited me to her studio which is situated in her charming home in Lawrenceville which she shares with her husband, Brad (a web designer and artist) and their Bulldog, Ziggy. Their house was built in the 1890’s and has been both lovingly and respectfully restored and updated, and is home to a fantastic collection of artwork, most of which has been produced by Brad. It was the perfect location for our photo-shoot and a real treat to see to Melissa’s work-space!
In our interview Melissa talks about her journey from Williamsburg, VA to Pittsburgh, and the opportunities and inspiration she found here that ultimately led to her creating Frost Finery. We talk about style in Pittsburgh (of course!), and her favorite local spots to shop for accessories. This is a good’un folks, so grab a cuppa, pop your feet up, and scroll down to find out more about the GirlBoss behind Frost Finery!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, how long you’ve been in Pittsburgh and what inspired you to start creating jewelry
I’m from Williamsburg, Virginia and then moved to New York City, so I’ve always lived on the east coast until three and a half years ago. I’ve been working full-time since I was 15 and have had at least 15 jobs, running the gamut from caricature artist to pizza delivery girl to set dresser on films to mobile and visual designer. In short, I love making things and I’m never bored. I moved to Pittsburgh in July 2012 from NYC with my husband with the agreement that we would get a dog, (and got a handsome bulldog a month later.) That autumn I signed up for my first metalsmithing class at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and totally fell in love with the craft. As soon as I saw how metal can be melted, annealed and reformed I was fascinated and I haven’t been able to stop. I started drawing out ideas for simple jewelry that I wanted to make; it was a freeing experience to be able to design, make something, and wear it.
Pittsburgh is a city that really seems to support local designers and businesses, it’s one of the things I really like about this city! Tell us a little about your experiences setting up Frost Finery in Pittsburgh, and how you got to where you are today.
Pittsburgh is awesome! There is a great DIY spirit here and because it’s a smaller, cozier city, you’re usually only a couple degrees of separation from meeting other down-to-earth people that are interested in what you love and want to help.
I really kicked Frost Finery into gear when I was accepted into the Made Right Here Apprenticeship Program through TechShop. Having access to new equipment gave me the opportunity to look at my process and find different ways of creating. I got a crash course in manufacturing and having that perspective was tremendously helpful transitioning from the digital design world into the physical product world.
Also, in 2015 I joined the Propelle Mastermind, an all women business and entrepreneurs group where we connect to support each others business goals, hold each other accountable and inspire each other to move our passions forward. That has been unbelievably helpful with networking around Pittsburgh, sharing resources and helping me find focus.
Where do you get the inspiration from for your designs and who do you design for?
I started out making gifts for close family and friends and making something they’d want to wear daily. That really shaped my mission of creating staple pieces that can be worn every day. For me, staple pieces include simple shapes and designs that look great whether they’re worn solo or layered with other pieces. I really strive for them to feel timeless, so you’ll still love wearing them in two years, or 10 years or 40 years out. And when you wear it, hopefully it reminds you of a time or a place or an event you’re thankful for.
|Druzy Silver Stud and Dangle Earring Jacket // Hammered Chevron Necklace. Image courtesy Melissa Frost.|
|Simple Strand Quartz Necklace with Sterling Chain|
You’ve done a ton of local events this past year and you’ve started to tutor your own workshops too, can you tell us more about these and what you have in the pipelines for 2016!
In my first year of business, I applied for every event to see what I enjoyed and what works best for Frost Finery. I found that I really love working with boutiques, it gives customers a really comfortable environment to try things on and there’s usually shared appreciation for the craft and beauty of boutique shopping.
In 2016 I’m looking to launch a home accessories line that I tested out during the holiday.
On the teaching circuit, I’ve got a crafts and drafts workshop lined up at the Society for Contemporary Craft on Feb 5th. We’ll be making adjustable rings and enjoy a drink or two as well.
When you’re not wearing your own creations, are there any other local accessory designers you love to wear? And what are your favorite shops to head to when shopping for accessories?
Studebaker Metals and ModEvil make beautifully-crafted jewelry. I have a brass cuff from Studebaker metals that I love to layer with other pieces. There is a special place in my heart for Anya Weitzman of ModEvil. She’s a friend, sometimes studio mate and brilliant maker; I love wearing her silver open cube stud earrings and concrete stud earrings. The Shop in East Liberty is definitely a go-to place for accessories as well as the shop at the Society for Contemporary Craft.
My favorite question to ask is what people think about Pittsburgh’s style, I’m discovering so much about the city’s style scene, it’s brilliant…there is so much more to it than sportswear! So, what do you think about Pittsburgh’s style, and how would you describe it?
Street-wise and eclectic. Our city gets a lot of weather, but that doesn’t stop Pittsburghers. It’s great to see how much people are expressing themselves – especially with lots of cool kicks and accessories. Living in Lawrenceville is great for style spotting. I often see well-loved vintage finds, beautiful boho layered looks and lots and lots of black. My favorite people spotting is during the Three Rivers Arts Festival. I’m always thinking, where did all these people come from? Everyone is in their free summer spirit best and it’s wonderful. I do always joke around about the Pittsburgh sweatshirt. It could be raining, snowing or really f***ing cold and I’ll see people in *just* a sweatshirt!
How about your own style? Describe your personal style, what influences it and why it works for you?
I recently used the Konmari Method because I felt like I hoarded clothes. Since then, it’s been really great to see a style emerge by looking at my clean closet that sparks joy. I used to wear a lot of all black outfits, but lately I’ve been breaking out of that, mostly due to my all-white english bulldog that leaves his furry glitter all over me, but also because when I wear lighter things with fun patterns it helps me to break out of my introverted self. There’s quite a bit of physical work that can get dirty pretty easily on the job, so a lot of my style is based on layers to love. I’m definitely an accessories girl because of that. Overall, I keep my closet pretty neutral with fun scarves, shoes and cardigans.
Lastly, what’s your most treasured item in your closet?
A vintage medium grey wool pea coat with hand-embroidered bright, groovy multi-colored flowers. My mom wore it in the 70s’s, and now I break it out for special or dressier occasions.
If you’d like to check out the other stylish Pittsburghers I’ve
interviewed, and find out more about #stylishpittsburgh campaign then
head over here!
if you’re a local boutique or style-obsessed Pittsburgher and would
like to be featured, or maybe you know someone who you think deserves to
be featured?! Get in touch!!