Emily Maynard may not look like a designer at first glance. Her standard “uniform” – jeans, a T-shirt and flats – may need a little enlivening. But one look at her statement jewelry, and you might guess she has some serious creativity running through her veins. Her jewelry of choice: Elva Fields, the line of bold, vintage-inspired necklaces and earrings she designs. For her latest project, she has teamed up with C. Wonder to create Elva Fields for C. Wonder, a line of stylish, wearable jewelry for the modern woman.
While the jewelry market is overflowing with beautiful and chic designs, Maynard believes her jewelry stands out because it has a story, a history and a personality. Her necklace with a horse pendant, for example, is based on a 1930s leather box with brass fittings, a lucky vintage discovery.
“It wasn’t just, ‘let’s smack a horse pendant on here.’ It was an amazing little antique find … Each piece has a story to tell. Put together, it tells a more complete story about how a love of history, a love of vintage, a love of women who have gone before, but reinvented for the sort of modern, fun-loving women,” she said.
Her love of vintage shines through the collection, as well as her daily outfits. When she is not wearing something from Elva Fields, she gravitates toward vintage and antique jewelry. Inspired by her antique discoveries and personal style, the designer translates these antiquated looks into new and contemporary fun.
“It’s whimsical, bold, colorful jewelry for women who love life,” Maynard said. “(The pieces) are cheerful, they’re fun, but what I love most is they literally work on so many types of women. But the thing that links them all together is that all have this sort of joie de vivre. They all love life and live it to the fullest.”
She not only has an eye for antiques, she has the knowledge to go with it. She studied ancient, Renaissance and contemporary jewelry, and can understand the history behind what she picks up at markets.
Growing up with an artist mother, who was perpetually painting, designing and restoring, Maynard tripped over creativity at every turn.
“(Art) just had to permeate everything I do because I was literally surrounded by it,” she said. “My interest in design came about very honestly and naturally.”
An entrepreneur by nature, she followed in her grandfather’s and great grandfather’s footsteps and founded her own business. Starting her own line did not seem like a “death-defying leap” but rather an outgrowth of her love for jewelry and heart for business. She jumped right in.
“It was one of those things that I saw the opportunity and I took it,” Maynard said. “It just seemed like a natural progression of ‘okay, this is something I really love to do, how can I make a business out of this?’ Probably a little bit selfishly thinking why I would spend all day doing something I love to do.”
Running an art gallery at the time, she began to moonlight as a designer, squeezing in time nights and weekends until Elva Fields blossomed.
Maynard maintains that jewelry is personal. Each piece has its own story.
“For vintage, it’s a story of who’s worn it before, why it was made,” she declared. “But if it is a newer piece, it is where you wore it, who gave it to you, where were you when you first saw it … Not only does it have a history to itself, but each woman can create new history as she wears it.”
One of her favorites from the Elva Fields for C. Wonder collection is her bangles with gold fittings that “make (her) happy." Available in five colors, they are easy to wear, easy to stack and easy to notice. Paired with the matching earrings, they form a look that Maynard says is “easy and simple but so glamorous at the same time.”
The collaboration with C. Wonder arose unexpectedly, when a buyer approached Maynard asking if she was interested in “growing her business in a new way” by creating a new retail concept. Initially skeptical, Maynard decided nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was just a phone call. She made the call and was sold.
After spending a fantastic day meeting the team, she discovered it was the perfect fit.
“I immediately felt they understood what Elva Fields was about. I was very excited about their ideas,” she explained. “I felt they embraced Elva Fields’ vision.”
It was a collaboration in the true sense of the word. The C. Wonder team came to the studio, sat down at the design table with Maynard and jointly hammered out each piece. Maynard reports, “There were no limits.” The partnership came naturally, fueled by their passion, mutual respect and shared aesthetic.
“They loved bright metals and chains and colors and whimsy, and mixed it with Elva Fields’ love of bold, vintage, beaded, and it all just worked seamlessly together to create a fun collection,” she said.
The biggest challenge turned out to be restraint. After generating hundreds of ideas, the team knew it would be impossible to pursue all of their designs.
As the collection is intended to be a more affordable version of Elva Fields, price was paramount. While the main collection has necklaces for around $300 a pop, the Elva Fields for C. Wonder jewelry uses less expensive materials such as glass and plated metals and can therefore be priced much lower, at $150 to $200. Shoppers get original Elva Fields designs that are easier on the pocketbook. (Prices are $18 to $298.)
When she runs out of ideas, Maynard remedies the problem with a quick trip antiquing.
“I soak up pretty much everything around me, but if I am ever feeling drained or tapped out or like I need something to inspire me, going to an antique market or a flea market with vintage jewelry never fails to stoke my creative fires,” she said.
Maynard believes giving back is a “no brainer.” Elva Fields donates to Backpack Buddies, which provides free meals to school children who would otherwise go hungry. For the past two years, Elva Fields has committed $3 of each online order to the charity, enough to provide a child with food for the weekend.
“It just seemed like such a small amount … I know that I have an opportunity and that Elva Fields has an opportunity to make a real and beneficial and meaningful difference where we live and work,” she said.
The road ahead is uncertain, but Maynard hopes to stay open to new possibilities.
“I always have crazy ideas spinning round in my head, so you never know when one of those might materialize into something fun,” the designer said. “We just try to stay open to whatever exciting may present itself along the way, so hopefully great things are in store.”
Check out Elva Fields' website.