By Lexi Fontaine, Marketing Intern
This week, I visited Pam Older in her Newburyport studio to discuss her career as a jewelry designer and journey from New York to Newburyport. Below is the interview for the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce’s #portpeople campaign which is a weekly profile of members of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry!
Lexi: When did you begin making jewelry?
Pam: I began making jewelry when I was in college as a part time job, and ended up learning how to become a silversmith. I started in a more traditional silver-smithing world. Stone people would come into the shop, so I would also learn about stones. It was a small shop, so I also learned sales. That was my first foray into jewelry, and then I didn’t do it for years. I went into publishing for about 25 years, of which the last two were at Time Magazine and the New Yorker Magazine.
Lexi: What inspires you to create?
Pam: Gemstones inspire me, and I buy beautiful things, It’s not hard to get inspiration when you are surrounded by these lovely things. I also design with the customer in mind, because my first inspiration is “do I like it?” If I like it and if I’ll wear it, then most people will usually like it.
Lexi: What is the first step in your creative process?
Pam: The first step is the choosing of the gems themselves as well as style and fashion. Since I do not use chemicals or torch anymore, it doesn’t always jive with what I do. I’m limited because my work is all hand wrapped. I don’t consider myself an artist, but I do consider myself more of a craftsman or designer.
Lexi: So you’re a jack-of-all-trades?
Pam: All of the people you talk to running a small business will be jacks-of-all-trade, because you have to be. You have to do your own promotions, advertising, logos, and packaging. It’s all up to the small business owner to do that.
Lexi: What is your latest project?
Pam: I am making high-end custom jewelry, and I love it a lot. It challenges me because I have to think about it rather than just make what the customer wants. I have to make it special, in their budget, and in their time frame.
Lexi: When did you move to Newburyport?
Pam: September 2014.
Lexi: Is there anything specific about Newburyport that drew you here?
Pam: This building is what drew me here. I found raw space where I could do anything I wanted to do, which was always a dream of mine. I had looked for that in New York and could never find it. Here I can live, work, and intermingle my personal space with my business space. For example, during Invitation Night for Christmas shopping, we’ve had a big party upstairs for the past two years.
Lexi: Do you enjoy being a member of the Newburyport community?
Pam: I absolutely enjoy being a member of the Newburyport community. It’s a tight knit community where we help each other, give each other referrals, and work together on promotions. We also realize that none of us is going to exist if you don’t support local! It is important to the character and flavor of the town.
To learn more about Pam and Pam Older Designs, visit pamolderdesigns.com or visit the studio located at 54 Merrimac Street in Newburyport, MA.