“I’m always thinking about what’s next; that’s just how I am,” Canadian entrepreneur and designer Meg deGraaf says when speaking about her latest pieces, both wearable and décor-centric. DeGraaf founded her jewellery line, MDG – which takes its inspiration from different aspects of architecture and furniture design – while living in London, U.K.; she now works out of a Toronto studio crafting each piece to order by hand, taking a minimalistic approach to creating each collection.
“I really like to have tight collections,” she notes. “I need to love every single piece and feel really good about releasing [them] because it’s such a personal thing for me. That’s what I’ve learned over the years – what my style is, what makes me feel good and what I feel proud to put out.”
MDG’s most recent jewellery pieces, comprising a collection called ‘Volute’, take their influence from “the scrolls that are found on the top of pillars in Renaissance architecture,” deGraaf says. “These scrolls were used a lot in silverware and ceramics. I started with that design idea in mind and added my take on it.” Modernistic coils and chain link motifs anchor the offering, with several pieces including the Mirror Coin Ring and Uneven Scroll Stone Earrings affording customers the opportunity to customize with birthstones and other gems.
DeGraaf, who is a self-taught maker, has channeled her interest in making unique goods into the line of ceramic interior objects she just released; they join other homey elements like pillows and glassware in the MDG décor line deGraaf introduced earlier this year.
“I love interior design, and I always wanted to do a home collection,” she says. “At the start of COVID when everything shut down, I was forced to slow down and take a step back.” DeGraaf says that the fact that her suppliers weren’t operating gave the chance to start working on her home décor pieces in a considered way.
‘Slow and steady’ as a design ethos suits deGraaf, allowing her to follow her own research and personal inclinations rather than what’s making a splash at a given moment. “I don’t put out pieces that are super trendy or just to make sales,” she says, noting that she spends much time tweaking and editing her pieces before dropping a new collection.
This measured approach is one she’s noticing from customers as well, adding that she’s pleased that this year has motivated consumers to become more conscientious about their purchases as well. DeGraaf has implemented one easy way for MDG fans to be thoughtful in spending their dollars by donating 15 per cent of sales from specific products to different charities and organizations every few months.
Right now, Water First, “an amazing organization fighting the water crisis in Indigenous communities across Canada” is feeling the benefits of deGraaf’s philanthropy. “I can just see how privilege and lucky I am,” deGraaf says when asked why she’s incorporated a give-back component into her usual business operations. “I’ve always donated to charities and organizations that I believe in, and felt that I needed to be doing something more. I’ve seen so much hardship in my own city and during my travels, but there are so many people doing amazing things who need all the support they can get.”
DeGraaf also has a message of support for fellow makers – and the world at large – as we exit such a tumultuous and fraught year. “You can’t be overcome by the negatives or stress or struggle,” she says, noting that she’s speaking from experience. “You just have to keep going…. Everyone has had a pretty trying time this year, but you just have to keep pushing through and know nothing will ever go as planned, and that’s ok.”
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