Malaprop Designs was formally created in 2012, but crafting jewelry has been a passion for owner Heather Rolland since her early teenage years. A lover of beautiful, hand-crafted jewelry, Rolland had always admired the work of silversmiths and other master crafters but would often think “I can make things like that … but I can make them more affordable.”
When Rolland lost her psychotherapy job in 2012, it gave her the opportunity to turn her passion for hand-crafted jewelry into a business venture. She founded Malaprop Designs, and for the past three years she has been using sterling silver, semi-precious stones, charms and found objects to craft a unique collection of necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
A Commitment to Local Inspiration and Materials
Malaprop Designs is based in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, where its owner resides. Rolland has always loved jewelry that “echoes the colors, themes or shapes from the natural world,” and the natural beauty of the Catskills provides inspiration for every piece of jewelry that Rolland creates. She takes daily hikes with her dogs through the Catskill forest in search of new images and ideas, finding muses in the form of “moss, lichen, fungus, cliffs and ledges, pawprints in mud and snow, ripples on the pond and footprints on the dirt road.”
In addition to relying on local inspiration, Malaprop Designs is also committed to using locally-sourced and hand-crafted items to create each item of jewelry.
When the company first began, Rolland was more open to the idea of creating costume jewelry pieces that relied on inexpensive manufactured and imported components. However, she quickly came to the decision that such items were “counter to what I felt was unique and important about Malaprop—the ethics of being truly local.”
Since that time, Rolland has committed herself to using U.S.-made items, found items and, whenever possible, truly local items in her designs and staying away from mass-produced items. “It’s a process and still evolving,” Rolland told MKFA, “but that commitment is unwavering.”
A One Women Show
Rolland is not simply the owner of Malaprop Designs: she is the entire operation. She not only makes the jewelry, but she also sources the materials, takes the photos, packs and ships each order and manages the business’ finances. Occasionally, as with any operation, there are errors that need to be corrected. “I recently received a custom order for a bracelet with name tags on it … and forgot to make the name tags!” Rolland confessed.
However, Rolland is quick to acknowledge any mistakes that might occur and to make them right with her customers. With such a small operation, customers do not have to wade through levels of employees and departments in order to find someone willing to accept that a mistake has been made and to fix it. It is easy for them to contact Rolland directly, and she is always happy to fix any problems that occur with an order.
At the same time, customers who fall in love with beautiful items from Malaprop Designs can take additional pleasure in knowing that the earrings, necklaces or bracelets that they purchase are not exactly like any other jewelry items in the world. Both custom and stock pieces are one of a kind and will never be duplicated in exactly the same way.
Every Malaprop Designs Piece Is One of a Kind
It is nearly impossible for Rolland to select a favorite among the jewelry she creates, because every single item is unique. Similarly, she doesn’t have a best-selling or highest-rated product line because each piece is a little different from any other that she has made. Instead, the measure of success for each item of jewelry that she makes comes from the feedback from individual customers.
“I love when my customers find an item that really speaks to them. I love it when I receive an email months or even years after a sale, reporting that the earrings are still a favorite,” Rolland told MKFA.
One response in particular stands out to her: “I made some earrings with inspirational words, and the customer who bought them told me that she wears them when she’s feeling low. She said, ‘Today I’m wearing dream journey earrings. I wanted to say thank you for making such wonderful jewelry. I don’t know what others feel when they wear it, but I think they are magical. And I want to says thanks.’ ”
Malaprop Creates Allergy-Inspired Jewelry Pieces
Rolland grew up with an awareness of food allergies owing to her mother’s allergy to strawberries. She also has two close friends with celiac disease, which has increased her awareness of food intake restrictions and managing symptoms with diet.
Although Malaprop Designs is not closely involved with the food allergy community on a regular basis, Rolland has created a collection of allergy-inspired jewelry pieces, which were included in the My Kid’s Food Allergies giveaway.
Malaprop Designs products can be purchased online through Etsy and through Facebook. In addition, customers who visit or reside in the Catskill Mountains can also find Malaprop jewelry locally at Morgan Outdoor in Livingstone Manor, NY and The Catskill Mountain Storehouse in Phoenicia, NY.
Malaprop Designs is currently offering 15 percent off any new customer purchase of stock items (non-custom items) that come through My Kid’s Food Allergies.