BABE #45: MAGGIE ANTALEK,
Owner + Creator @ Ramblerose
When Maggie first reached out to us and I took a quick look at her website, it was love at first sight. She's a ridiculously talented jewelry and graphic designer and I'm a huge fan of the brand that she's built for herself from the ground-up. Her passion for her work really shows in this interview, and I loved gaining a new perspective on the hard work and TLC that goes into handcrafting and selling jewelry (like a boss.) Thanks for being here, Maggie!
Check out the BWH-exclusive discount on the entire Ramblerose collection at the end of this interview!
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Current location: Boston, MA
Alma mater: Northeastern University
Degree: BFA in Graphic Design
Job title(s)/Company: Owner + Creator @ Ramblerose
Babe you admire and why?
Brittany Lo. She’s my cousin, and a total girlboss! She’s running a successful beauty services company out of Manhattan, fearlessly volunteered to be on a dating show last year, is becoming a well-known blogger, and never stops believing in fairy tale love.
How do you spend your free time?
I really enjoy traveling. I’m very used to traveling multiple times a month for work, but what I really love is taking a weekend away with friends or my boyfriend to relax. This winter, it will be a lot of skiing in Vermont! Last year, I made it to Vietnam to visit a friend who was working in Ho Chi Minh. The goal this year is to make it to another new country!
Go-to adult beverage?
Moscow Mules ALL the way.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Don’t do this to me, it’s too hard. (But if I had to choose: warm chocolate chip cookies and cold milk.)
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Oh man… I can’t lie, I’m totally not a celebrity follower and I often joke that I live under a rock, but I LOVE Emma Watson and everything she stands for. Plus, I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd and a Hermione wannabe.
What’s one thing you wish you knew more about?
Business. I know that sounds crazy because I own one, but I went to school for design, and I definitely struggle in growth because I’m not trained in analyzing my numbers or forming a calculated plan.
Something most folks don’t know about you?
Most people probably don’t know that I run my business alone! I think people look at my site and assume I work with a team to produce my line, but I make, sell and promote everything myself.
Tell us about your hustle:
After quitting my full-time "comfortable" corporate graphic design job a year and a half out of college, I’ve been hustling for about 10 months at my own jewelry business, Ramblerose. I travel to trade shows, seek wholesale opportunities, and am constantly creating new pieces to keep my brand (and website) fresh and relevant. I'm currently partnered with Gilt City and carried in multiple boutiques in the northeast. I also work with various clients on freelance graphic design and content creation projects to ensure I’m living comfortably while my business is still in it’s smaller stages.
What does your typical workday look like?
Almost every day is different! That’s the honest truth. I usually wake up knowing one of the following: 1. I have to fill some orders - make them, pack them, ship them. 2. I have freelance work to finish up and follow-up on. 3. I have to make new products. 4. I have to update my site and order new supplies, 5. I have to do some outreach for new blog features, wholesale sites, and press. And of course, many of these days are a combination of all those things. During the fall and holiday season, I travel almost every weekend. Each month I spend about 1 work week in NYC with my main freelance clients. So basically, I’m all over the place!
When did you become interested in making jewelry, and what was the process of taking it full-time like?
In the spring of 2012, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy where I took my first fine arts jewelry making course. I learned how to solder metals, set stones, and make some basic pieces from scratch. I really fell in love with the art, but when I went home, I no longer had access to the big studio tools and equipment. So, I supplemented with craft jewelry by buying some supplies like leather, thread, and studs for about $100, and just started to play around! I made a few gifts for friends and next thing I knew, I was encouraged to make an Etsy shop. I took it slow while in school, but during my first year working-full time, it started to grow and I became more passionate about how I could make it my career. After leaving my job for a failed job opportunity, I decided to take leap and make it work. I picked up more freelance design projects, I paid more attention to my website, I made a wholesale catalog, I started traveling, and I even went through an entire business name-change and re-brand. I’m pinching pennies more than when I had a full time gig, but I sure as hell enjoy almost every moment of my job. I’ve worked really hard to make it happen, and working for myself has been an extremely rewarding experience.
Is there a story behind 'ramblerose'?
Yes! The word “ramble,” meaning to walk and to wander, reminds me of the way I love to travel and how it inspires my jewelry. Seeing the world is truly a passion of mine and I hope to wander through it all someday! “Rose” is my middle name, but also a beautiful flower, which I love to incorporate into my booth displays.
Do you think your skill in graphic design complements your skill in jewelry-making?
100%! My training in design and branding have helped tremendously in understanding how to create visually pleasing images, products, and an overall feel for my brand that also complements my personal style.
What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
I left my full time “comfortable” job last March to go work for a fine jeweler. Not my style of jewelry, but I thought it would be good experience to work in a very small setting and learn about diamonds and high end jewelry skills, improve some social media and photography, and do my best to improve the company in whatever way I could. It turned out that the owner and I did NOT vibe well, and I felt very trapped and anxious in an extremely unhealthy work environment. I was faced with a challenge: do I quit after only 2 weeks or do I stick it out and continue being uncomfortable, doing nothing at all useful or enjoyable? I had never quit anything so quickly before in my life - I felt like a failure. But I soon realized my health and happiness are MOST important and that I would figure it out. I left with no plan, and I overcame it by immediately calling my main freelance clients and telling them I could travel to NY to put in more hours for them. I overcame it by improving my own brand and putting myself out there. I overcame it by becoming my own boss.
What are some aspects of jewelry-making that outsiders might not know about?
The time-consuming nature and expense of materials. I think sometimes customers see the price on something like The New Orleans Cuff and are confused about why it costs $162. What they don’t understand is that the leather is genuine, the gemstone is a certified black onyx, and I used 48 strings to hand-embroider the design on top, taking a total of 6 hours to complete. I hope as time goes on, customers can understand the struggle of us makers and know we are creating products that are meant to last.
Who are some of your favorite creators?
This is hard. I have so many. One of my favorite local creators is my friend Sharrel of Mud and Yarn. She makes amazing pottery and has the kindest heart! I also love the mural artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn. I'm also a huge fan of my friend and collaborator, Christian Resiak of Howl and Hide Supply Co.!
Favorite part about your job? Least favorite?
Favorite: making, creating, photographing. Transporting those products into a branded image and seeing the response of fans. Least favorite: finances and accounting! I didn’t go to school for business, so trying to remind myself of how much money I should or should NOT be spending is tough. I just want to buy all the gemstones!
What would you say are your most popular pieces? Is there a style of jewelry that sells the most?
It’s always changing! The necklaces using Black onyx and Labradorite are always a hit, because they are very versatile for everyday wear. The most popular this past season was definitely The Santa Monica. My classic item that has stuck with me from the start, The Monterey Cuff, has also maintained consistent popularity.
Do you feel like you had the moral support you needed to pursue your art form?
I’ve loved art since I was 3. My parents always worked full time, and my babysitter (also named Maggie!) was a painter. We used to go to her studio or draw at home, and I really fell in love with it. I was always creative, but my parents are in the medical field so I wasn’t sure if I was going to pursue my talents in math & science or if I was going to follow my heart and study art. Midway through senior year, I discovered graphic design as a great option. Although it’s not my passion, it built the foundation and many useful skills I use in my business now. Once I discovered jewelry, my family and friends were always very supportive. They saw the talent in me that I never saw, and encouraged me to pursue those talents.
How has your jewelry-making style evolved and developed over time? How do you stay on-trend?
Oh man - it has developed in the craziest ways! I started in a metal smithing class, spending 20-40 hours per project. I switched over to “craft” jewelry, meaning I could buy pre-prepped supplies and do everything from home without much equipment. For almost 2 years, all I made were leather bracelets with embroidery, and they were so ugly compared to my leather bracelets now! Eventually I expanded to necklaces, gemstones etc. It all depended on how much money I had! I’ve grown my business in a true grassroots fashion: starting with $100 in supplies and only spent money once I made it. Trends, schmends! Although I love fashion and keep up with what’s happening, I design items that stay true to my style. When beauty strikes me, I’m inspired, and I design a new item.
What is your favorite project or collaboration you’ve been a part of?
My brand video with Luke Haag, for sure! He’s a Buffalo native and an extremely talented videographer. He agreed to help make this video with me and it turned out better than I could have ever planned.
What is your go-to jewelry brand to buy and wear outside of your own? :)
I’m a total brat and I only wear my own! Mostly because I know what I like, I make what I like, and I’m my own walking advertisement! If people ask what I do, I can always show them.
Do you have plans to expand the shop beyond the digital space?
I don’t have a real plan, but I’ve definitely had the dream to open a retail space! I would love to sell and work in a storefront, where my customers can see me at the jewelry bench.
What motivates and you?
I definitely draw inspiration from the natural world. I love exploring nature and being outside, but only when it’s warm! Seeing jewelry supplies like gemstones also inspires me. I see a stone and wonder how I can make it into a beautiful, wearable piece of jewelry. I also look at many fashion brands and imagery! It’s good to see what fashion trends are out there so I can know what type of jewelry will work best alongside current trends.
What does success look like to you?
For me, success has shown itself in the form of brand recognition. When you meet people in cities you don’t live in, and they immediately say “I know you! So glad I got to come see you in person,” it feels amazing. Knowing that the word is getting out there, that your online presence actually reaches an audience, and they know who you are, feels like a success to me.
How do you find a work-life balance?
It’s very hard! Working for myself means a lot of hustle. It means a lot of wasted “work” time on travel. It means late nights and being away on weekends. But I’m really lucky to have friends who will travel with me for shows, or who I work with when I travel to NY. When I’m home in Boston, I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend, who is very understanding and is willing to spend time with me watching movies while I make jewelry.
What helps you wind down + manage stress?
I find I operate better with tight deadlines and stress, which makes the usual days tough and stressful. I also find myself winding down too much during the slow periods. So I usually manage my stress by just working hard! Getting through the to-do list is the only way to solve the problem. When it really comes time to do something for myself, I like to go out with friends, cook/bake or go to the gym. And shop. Retail therapy is the real deal.
What do you do when you're lacking creativity?
I definitely struggle with this! It usually happens in the slow winter season, because I’m not forced to create for any upcoming shows. When that happens, I just grab some coffee, browse pinterest, and take out my supplies. Gotta start somewhere, and once I have an idea for something that might work, I give it a shot and see how it turns out. Sometimes it turns into an entirely different design than the original vision, and that’s when the magic happens.
What are your goals for the future?
Definitely to build a team. It’s hard to work on this alone! I want some pals on my side to boost every aspect of the business. I also would love a storefront. I also hope to get involved with some charitable donation system this year so x% can be donated per sale.
Career and/or life advice for other Babes?
Truly assess your work situation. Do you love the corporate world and want to climb the ladder? If so, power to ya! Work hard, go places, and make your mark. If you HATE it, leave it. Most people do, but don’t have the courage or the fall-back to do so, but there is ALWAYS something else out there where your skills can be utilized. I left my full-time corporate gig for a small business, thinking it would be a perfect fit where I could contribute my skills. Turns out I was WRONG and left after 2 weeks. But I had the courage to take the time to decide what was next. The corporate world stunted my growth and utilized about 5% of my skills. The small business had a negative attitude and no trust that my skills would be useful to them. Here I am, 10 months later, working for myself, using 90% of my skills and making a living.
BWH + RAMBLEROSE EXCLUSIVE:
There's something so special about supporting fellow creatives after hearing their stories, and with Valentines (or Galentines) Day around the corner, Maggie has graciously offered to hook us up with a Babes Who Hustle-exclusive offer. (Thanks, Maggie!)
Treat your bae (or yourself) using offer code 'BABESWHOHUSTLE' at checkout
for 20% off the entire collection! Valid through Midnight on 2/14.
Connect with Maggie:
This interview has been condensed and edited.
*This is an affiliate partnership. That means that you get handcrafted jewelry at a discounted price, the Babe you're supporting gets to pay her bills, and a tiny portion of your purchase comes back to us, so we can keep this site alive!