Who would've thought that we can actually wear real flowers as earrings? Political Science graduate Mimi Dumalaog creates resin earrings out of preserved flowers—and below, we talk to her about her online store, Kamila's 4am Bracelet.
What's the idea behind your shop’s name?
"I was trained by my parents to study in the morning before I go to school. I was so used to this routine that even after I graduated, I wake up at 4 a.m. even if I have nothing to do. Before, I usually watch movies, browse Facebook, and read to pass time. I felt bad for wasting time so I decided to pick up a hobby that could be done at four in the morning—arts and crafts.
"My business was named Kamilas4ambracelet because most of my pieces are made at 4 a.m. Kamila is a combination of mine, my mom’s, and my sister's name. It’s kamilas4ambracelet because I started with just making bracelets. Now, we have expanded to making other accessories, too, as well as phone cases."
How would you describe your design aesthetic and philosophy?
"Wearable art—this is what I subscribe to. I aim that every piece I make is a work of art. I want it to be more than just jewelry or accessories. This is the reason why I put time, effort, and passion into everything we create. More importantly, like any art, I aim [to] elicit emotions from our clients. Majority of our designs are customized requests. Either they were envisioned by the clients or they are designs especially made for them to preserve sentimental memorabilia, like flower petals. It gives us pleasure to know that we helped their vision come to life and that we helped them preserve a memory."
Client’s own flower preservation starts at P999.
Do you have a signature design or key element evident in your collections?
"We create a wide range of designs—from minimalist to statement pieces. The common denominator, though, is that we use resin and real flowers."
Where do you usually draw inspiration from?
"I’m a fan of Ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers. Ikebana can be translated to 'giving life to flowers' and this art is not much about symmetry but the beauty, the flow, and the mindfulness of the arrangement, which I think best describes how we design."
Can you walk us through your creative process?
"The creative process always starts when I am inside the art shop or flower shop. I get the things that I think I can work with and then I sit down, arrange them, and give them life. I make several designs and then I consult my mom. My mom is a great influence on my designs. I am more of a crafter; she has an eye to spot what will make it more beautiful."
How did you learn to make resin?
"I saw a photo of a resin bangle on the internet and I researched how to make it. I learned it by watching YouTube tutorials, reading books, and talking to people who have been making them for a long time. Of course, there’s a lot of trial and error in the process of learning."
Ear climbers start at P999
How did your brand take off and how has it evolved since you started?
"The journey of Kamila took a lot of work but I can say that the journey was also serendipitous. I met the right people and was presented with the right opportunities at the right time. My first jewelry pieces were made with commonly used materials—beads, leather, and strings. I just stumbled upon a Pinterest post about a resin bangle and was so in awe that I tried making one.
"When I got good at [manipulating] resin, I decided to stop making use of other materials and focus on using resin and real flowers to differentiate our brand from other jewelry crafters. Specializing in one form of art and having that signature helped the brand get recognition. Aside from that, I believe the brand took off when I started sharing the art I do by conducting workshops. As more people got interested in resin, the brand also got more exposure. Eventually, we got recognized to be one of the pioneering brands using resin and real flowers to make jewelry and phone cases here in the Philippines."
Sakura ear studs start at P699
What makes your pieces a cut above the rest?
"I believe there are two primary things that attract a customer to purchase a Kamila piece. First, we use unique materials—real flowers. Each piece will be unique on its own even if it follows a general design. Secondly, we’ve captured a niche as we combined art and making jewelry; there are not many crafters specializing in making jewelry and phone cases. The brand also offers customization to the clients. It really makes a difference because with a custom request, they get to envision with me. They are then more involved and invested in the process. Thus, the piece has more value to them."
Where can we buy your pieces?
What can we expect from your brand in the future?
"We want to incorporate more forms of art in the future. We would want to try [to incorporate] silversmithing and glass blowing in the art that we do. It’s also in our plan to offer fine jewelry and resin. Aside from improving our craftsmanship, we also want to continue sharing the kind of art we do by conducting more workshops in the future."