A career in music seemed to be a natural progression for London College of Music graduate Maggie CS, who started playing the piano at the age of six. But she soon found herself bored with her job and craving change. It was then that she tried her hand at beading and wire art and not long after, began designing and making accessories as a business.
Describing some of the early obstacles she faced when she started the business seven years ago, she says, “I realised then that suddenly everyone was a critic. ‘You are a music teacher, what do you know about business?’ they would say.”
Today, Maggie is the creative mind behind —and proud owner of — artisanal jewellery label My Heavenly Atelier. “The learning curve was really steep and I changed my brand name a few times but this is the final name and there will be no more changes,” she says decidedly. Having moved away from her original design style, she launched her first minimalist collection in 2014, and has not looked back since.
She continues to create her signature simple, delicate pieces by removing what she views as unnecessary elements, making space for fine, artistic touches. Using soldering techniques, she works mostly with silver — and more recently, 14-carat gold filled (an alternative to solid gold) — to create earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings and tragus cuffs. She also uses Argentium silver, yellow gold filled and rose gold filled.
“My products are for those who love simplicity, balance and wearability,” says Maggie, who is especially inspired by geometry, lines and architecture.
Her typical design process begins at the drawing board where she sketches her ideas before attempting them with copper wire. Once she is satisfied with the overall design, hours of bending and shaping take place using the actual material to finalise the design.
An interesting characteristic of her earrings lies in its seamless design that clips to the tragus. For those who find themselves constantly losing earring backs, this is truly a plus point as these earrings do not need any.
At the moment, My Heavenly Atelier services a mainly international clientele through its online store and e-commerce platform, Etsy.
Maggie tries to introduce a few new pieces every quarter. The current bestseller is the circular earring from her last collection named Circle, which is dedicated to her late mother. “My mum was quite a simple person as well and so this is for her. A circle is the most basic shape but it also never ends and there is a beauty in that,” she says.
To Maggie, minimalism is not only a design philosophy, it is a way of life. “When my mother fell ill about a year ago, I found myself struggling to juggle my time between family and what I wanted to pursue for myself.” It was then that she was inspired to revamp her lifestyle by holding on to only the things that she truly needed. Maggie concedes that it was difficult to get rid of her possessions and began reading up about minimalism. Naturally, she came across Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering that further encouraged her on her journey to fully embrace minimalism.
“I feel so weightless [now]. I don’t have to be bothered with or keep up with so many things, such as my wardrobe or choosing my attire for instance. I want to keep things simple so I have time for my studio, to read and for family — the things that matter to me,” she says.
Her way of living is evident in her Tropicana Avenue studio, where our interview takes place. If the brand’s name is any indication at all, the space is her pride and joy. Referring to her studio as her playground, she says she comes here not only to work but to recharge. “I come here happy every day and start playing,” says Maggie who spends 8 to 10 hours a day here. There is a sense of satisfaction and enthusiasm about her when she speaks about her work and minimalist lifestyle, making one ponder that perhaps in this regard, less is indeed more.
This article first appeared on May 28, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.