From collecting stones on the beach to creating her brand, Maria Langouvardou stands as a young supporter of handmade art pieces in the form of jewelry.
On the verge of opening her first store in Sitia, Greece, she reflects on her journey full of ups and downs. However, one thing is for sure: her love for art and creating helps her through any given obstacles.
We look at her beginnings, where her passion comes from, and what the future may hold for her.
Where did the idea for handcrafted jewelry come from?
Everything started because of stones, tiles, and marbles. Since I come from Crete island, I’ve always had a strong connection with the sea and its treasures. Every time I went to the beach, I observed the stones and started collecting the ones I believed were special.
I couldn’t believe that something I found so easily could be beautiful and unique. I was fascinated by the different colors, shapes, and textures they all had, and I felt thrilled and calm every time I collected them.
What or who inspires you when designing jewelry?
Sometimes, you wake up and have a specific design in mind without knowing how the idea was born. Other times, you start making something and leave the piece to lead you where it wants to. Honestly, this is my favorite process because it usually leads to unique pieces.
My biggest inspiration is the ocean in the summer because of the beautiful stones I find there and the villages in the winter because of the unique traditional elements I love to observe and implement into my collections. And last but not least, my dad’s work as a constructor has been a great inspiration for me to start making jewels from marbles and stones.
Having a creative soul: why did you choose jewelry and not another art form?
Today, you can find me expressing myself through jewelry, accessories (bags and shoes), textiles (knitting, crocheting, sewing, and weaving), ceramics, concrete, and resin art, among other techniques.
I have attended more than 100 seminars related to arts and crafts, and every form of art makes me feel equally fulfilled.
You create unique designs with vibrant colors. What’s the message behind them?
The message I want to convey through my art is happiness itself. I want the people who wear my designs to feel beautiful, use the pieces they have bought to show the world who they are, establish their identity, and look and feel positive.
That’s why I love to mix so many colors as well. As vibrant colors make me feel so happy, they can also make other people feel joyful.
How did you turn jewelry-making into a business?
One day, I found out that a technique called macramé could allow me to use all those stones I had collected over the years and transform them into beautiful jewels.
I got so excited that I immediately got enrolled in seminars. After that, I spent some time with my dad to notice the marbles and the tiles he used in his work, and I thought it would be an innovative idea to turn them into jewels.
That’s how my brand Marblestones was born! As soon as I learned the techniques, I bought my first supplies and created my first collections. Then I participated at a summer festival in Crete, selling everything I made.
When I saw how many people loved my designs, I knew that was for me. As the saying goes: “Turn your passion into a business, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
What has been the best piece of advice that you have received?
The best advice I’ve received has been from my grandma, who has always supported me in every step of my life.
She always told me that I should be independent and do whatever makes me happy. This helped me to become the person I am today and identify myself as Marblestones.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned on your business journey?
To value my work for what it is and not to undersell it. It is essential to get paid fairly for all the hard work you do, and there are many things that an artist should consider when they price their products.
Customers should also understand the complicated process behind every handmade piece. It starts from an idea and goes to buying the supplies, creating the artwork, finding the proper packaging, photo-shooting, marketing your work, and so much more until you reach the final product. All this should be considered when someone sells or buys handmade things.
The world is highly influenced by fast fashion. Do you think unique pieces are less appreciated?
Nowadays, more and more people care less about “fashion” in the traditional sense.
Everyone wants to feel and look unique by wearing clothes and accessories that reflect you. Those with self-confidence and positive characters love shopping for distinctive pieces and appreciate handmade work.
However, it is not easy to find people who value handmade things and understand the hard work behind the final product. Only those who know what means something to be handmade and unique will support a small handcrafted jewelry business. The challenge for us as artists is to find these people.
How has your artistic process evolved since your beginnings?
Every year I look at my creations, and they are always a step-up from the ones I had made the year before. As with anything in people’s lives, the more you practice, the better you become, and I think that’s beautiful.
Today, you can find pieces in my collections that combine many different techniques like weaving, crocheting, and macramé, which make my work special.
Finally, how do you see your craft influencing other creators?
If what you do makes other people feel proud, happy, and excited, then you should know that you are on the right path. Besides that, I do not only make and sell art: I also teach other people how to create art themselves.
Maria Langouvardou showcases her work in various marketplaces worldwide. Being accepted into the Greek program for women empowerment makes this, sometimes challenging journey, worth it.
Check out the Marble Stones Instagram profile or contact Maria for more info about her work and the online seminars she offers.
Written by Metka Novak
With degrees in English & Slovene and Communication & Media, Metka Novak is a Slovenian journalist and writer based in Vienna, Austria, who focuses on impactful stories, the environmental field, and bringing new topics to the readers.