On their own, pieces of jewellery don’t always look like much. Mine Güngör believes that the person wearing the piece is what finalises the artwork.
“In a box, an earring isn’t ready and perfect yet,” she explains. “It’s only when it’s worn by someone that you can see the piece of jewellery become complete. To a designer, it’s fascinating to witness the work take its final form.”
Güngör is a visual artist by training. As a student, she was free to explore all kinds of materials and tools, and that’s when she created her first jewellery designs. When they started selling well, she had to make a choice: whether to maintain designing as a hobby and focus on painting or seriously take on the budding jewellery business.
As much as Güngör loves painting, there was one thing that helped her make up her mind.
“As a painter, I’m much rougher. When I design jewellery, it’s all about details and functionality, and I love creating items that are made to be used, not just admired. It’s great to have so many channels, ways and tools to express myself.”
The decision she made has borne fruit. In late 2016, three years after she had made and sold her first pieces, she was able to become a full-time jewellery entrepreneur, with eyes set on international markets.
Güngör’s earrings and necklaces are decorative and filled with details. She finds inspiration wherever and whenever; following her child’s adventures in the world, in particular, has taught her that not everything has to look like something.
“Even the strangest things can look good together,” she notes. “I’ve been able to let go of restrictions and just draw whatever it is that happens to come my way.”
The first Mine Güngör jewellery piece was a necklace designed to resemble the face of her cat, which is still one of the brand’s most popular items. A new collection comes out twice a year, and the pieces have thus far included unicorns, flowers and avocados, with many designs coming in two sizes: smaller, called casual, and larger, known as statement.
All the jewellery is made in Finland, using materials that are sourced from as near as possible. Many of the items are of Finnish birch, while some of the parts including holograms are ordered from the UK. The final products are assembled in Helsinki.
Say no to single-use
Currently, Mine Güngör has various resellers in Finland and a couple in the US and Estonia, and its online store sends items all across the world. Güngör tells that while orders have been coming in from as far as Hawaii, the regular non-Finnish clients hail mainly from Spain and England.
However, there are still plenty of regions to conquer. The next step for Güngör and her three-strong team of staff is to start visiting international fairs and expositions to spread the word. Social media is a good marketing platform for small brands, but Güngör believes that being able to see and touch the pieces is even better. She also thinks that the demand for products like Mine Güngör is on the rise, especially in Europe.
“People are fed up with low-quality, single-use items that lack spirit and personality,” she points out. “Instead, what they’re looking for is sustainability and brands that are committed to ethical production and practices.”
To manifest its values, Mine Güngör has been involved in collaborations with organisations like the Finnish Nature League and Savonlinna International Nature Film Festival. Güngör hopes there’ll be more opportunities for similar projects in the future.
“They are fun and mutually beneficial – and everyone’s left with a smile on their face!”