Chowder Chatter with Lara Montenegro

Sailormade has a new crew member! Meet Lara Montenegro, a jewelry designer and wannabe mermaid. Read through our interview with Lara to learn more about her approach to jewelry design, her love of the ocean, and what she is most excited about living in Boston. 

Lara Montenegro

leather cargo belt and nautical womens cuff in rose gold

Hi, Lara! We are so excited to have you onboard here at Sailormade. Ok, so your accent gave you away, you're not a native Bostonian, can you tell us how you ended up in MA?

Hi! I am Lara Montenegro. I am from Brazil. I was born and grew up in Northeastern Brazil, and 10 years ago moved to Sao Paulo (Southeastern Brazil) to pursue a career in fashion design. I’ve been in Boston now for two and a half years and I really love this place. I am really happy here.

That’s great! I am so happy that our winters didn’t scare you away. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I consider myself a calm, creative and sensory person, I am always willing to explore new places and have different experiences. My relationship, interest and proximity to art and crafts have been present since my childhood. I have always been attracted to this universe. Seven years ago, after being fascinated by the jewelry world, I started my own jewelry studio in Sao Paulo, Brazil. And two and a half years ago my husband received a job offer at MIT, so we decided to move to the U.S. We thought it could be a big change but also a good experience for us, we were right! This city has been very kind with us.

lara montenegro jewelry design

lara montenegro jewelry design

So, what is your experience with jewelry? 

I have a degree in fashion design and a graduate degree in set and costume design. It took a while, but I discovered that my great passion indeed is jewelry design. My pleasure in working with my hands has accompanied me since I was a child, when my mother shared with me the lessons that she learned in courses she took in her free time. When I was in college I started to create jewelry for myself. I used to use different materials, like wood, linen, wool, among others. It was very different from the things that I create nowadays, simpler... more naive.  I remember the first time when someone saw the jewelry I was wearing and asked me where I bought it, and a few days later I started selling them to my friends and others. Years later, I decided to take metal smith classes, and then I found myself working with brass, silver and gold. I used to make some drawings, modeling using just paper, or brass. Sometimes I simply sit in the studio and see what happens next. Nowadays, I have started to work with 3D modeling. It is very good to see the final result, but I really like to put my hands on the materials, so I like to work with both. I always feel good after a long day at the studio.

lara montenegro jewelry design

Oh, I know that feeling! I’d love to learn more about your jewelry line, I love an origin story! Tell us about your first collection.

When I was finishing my graduate studies, I decided to create a jewelry collection inspired by a Brazilian set designer called José Dias. I remember that at that time I was enchanted by the geometric shapes that were always present in his projects. I looked for ways to capture in metal something so ephemeral like a scenario is. That's when I found an old passion, jewelry, with this inspiration and decided to take metalsmith classes. It wasn’t enough for me to just design the jewelry, I wanted to make it myself! I created a small collection of silver rings, necklaces, and earrings. Shortly after finishing my graduate studies, some friends were interested in buying my designs. Then, I started creating for friends, after that, for friends of friends, and then finally I decided to officially start a studio and sell my jewelry in physical and online stores. The best feeling for me is when I see someone using jewelry I made. It's so fulfilling!

What inspires you most when designing jewelry? 

I can say that everything around me can become inspiration. I try to work on my sensitivity and keep an open mind, be able to absorb shapes, colors, textures, to contribute to my creative process. The colors, the sinuous shapes, the diversity and the richness of nature inspire me daily. Walking makes me think clearer, when I go to museums I always return home full of ideas. A trip can make me feel more alive and willing to create, but what enchants and inspires me most is the sea. Since I was little I spent summer holidays at the beach. In addition to beautiful memories, I can say that I feel a strong energy from the sea. I feel lighter after seeing the sea, it's like stepping on the sand and swimming in the sea would take away all the bad energies and recharge my soul’s battery. This was, without a doubt, why I feel so identified with Sailormade’s designs. When I saw the jewelry created by Bridget I could smell the sea air and then I thought: I want to work with her! Here I am :)

lara montenegro jewelry design

From one beach bum to another, I love that answer! What are you most excited about working with Sailormade?

I can’t say how happy I am to work here! It feels so good working with handcrafted jewelry with high quality materials. I love the clean and sophisticated designs that Bridget creates. I admire the design that refers to the nautical, but without being obvious. I am very excited to create with Bridget!! 

Yes! We can't wait to debut all the new designs that we've been talking about. Now, for a couple of fun questions. Tell us about some of your hobbies. 

I adore spending my free time drawing, painting (using watercolor and acrylics), cooking, baking... In general, creating something.

What are your favorite spots in Boston?

I love to go for a walk at Esplanade, Riverbend Park, MIT, Harvard Yard, Boston Common, Fine Arts Museum, the Aquarium, Little Italy... I can write a long list about it (oops.. Boston and Cambridge).

Tell us your dream vacation.

I would like to visit Lyon in France. Since my husband visited it, he has showed me pictures from there and based on things that he said to me I think I will love that place.

I'd love to travel there too! If you were a marine animal, what would it be?

A mermaid?! Lol! If I were a marine animal, I would like to be a seahorse! They are so elegant! Also some species are able to change color according to the environment in which they are. And another interesting fact is that the male seahorse gets pregnant and gives birth. Wow!

Thats incredible! One final question, what Sailormade pieces are you crushing on right now?

So many! Right now, I would have choose the Slim Fid Cuff and the Cargo Belt.

nautical slim fid cuff for women brass rose gold and silver

cargo leather belt with snap hook brass buckle

Thanks so much for answering these questions, Lara! We are so excited to have you at Sailormade and can't wait to see what new things we're able to accomplish with your help:) 

Check out Lara's personal jewelry line HERE

Photographer: Joel Veiga / Model: Isabella Silveira

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