Amy Molkentin trawls her family property at the edge of the picturesque Snowy Mountains region at Tumbarumba searching for unique pieces of wood to include in her Quercus range of jewellery.
Her passion for not only designing the jewellery range, but in the personal connection she has with the materials is certainly apparent as she delicately holds up a necklace pointing out the intricate details of the stringy bark wood that had been originally used in the construction of the property’s shearing shed, dating back more than 100 years.
“Fossicking through the piles of wood to find pieces with unusual knots and grains is such a great part of it all,” Amy, who now lives in Wagga with her young family, says, also adding that her very supportive and also creative husband, Molky, has constructed tables and jewellery stands for her from the same unique woods. “These quirky wooden designs really become works of art because it’s so time consuming from when the materials are sourced, creating the moulds, sanding the edges, and I often like to paint one side as well.
“I have really been trying to evolve my designs and after starting off making things that I could get supplies for online, coming from the country, I just thought that I really should create some different designs that are ethically made and sourced, and they really are beautiful.”
Whilst her love for wearing jewellery first began whilst in a managerial role for a large retailer in Canberra, Amy found her creative flair (which she admits may actually date back to her teenage years as she spent her lunchtimes creating masterpieces in the school art room) and her Love Buds journey began four years ago, after the birth of her son Kobi.
“I think for me having a baby I felt like I kind of lost part of myself and I needed to have a creative outlet and after making jewellery for myself at home, my friends started to become interested in my pieces and it all started from there. I remember sitting at home one day really wanting to make a pair of earrings and after buying $25 worth of supplies for just one pair of earrings, I showed them to friends and they were also interested in me creating pieces and it has all grown from there. Those same friends are still visiting my stalls at each market I attend, so it’s really lovely to have that support.”
Despite having grown her business significantly, with interest from local businesses to stock her creations and regular custom orders, Amy still relishes setting up her stall at local boutique markets across the Riverina region.
“I really want to keep that personal connection with people and it’s so rewarding after a hectic few weeks of devoting your time to making jewellery for one market, to see everyone coming in and seeing all the products and then buying something,” Amy says.
She believes that statement accessories can be the key to making any outfit, so she keeps up with current trends to really provide a unique edge in her designs.
“Mum and I would always say that with good shoes, good hair and good accessories, you can make even the plainest of outfits look amazing. At the moment I love necklaces, but I always love earrings too. The Scandi range of necklaces I am creating for summer are proving really popular with little splashes of neon colours… Whilst pastels are always popular, pops of colour are also trending.”
The widespread reach of the Love Buds by Amy name is certainly something that still amazes Amy, with more than 8500 Facebook followers and customers from as far as the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and New Zealand, but she says that there’s that assurance that the items are one-off handmade pieces.
“They may have small little imperfections sometimes, but that’s what makes them unique, and there’ll never be 10,000 of any one design produced.”
Amy was also working in a role with a local real estate agency, however, has recently decided to concentrate on her Love Buds by Amy creations, and her long term vision even includes a little dream to eventually expand into designing silverware.
“Whilst the Love Buds brand has the same foundations, I have really branched out so it’s more than just cute and country, and more than just a hobby to me now.”
After what proved a very hectic Christmas period with several designs selling out, the new Quercus range to relaunch in the coming weeks, a new website, three Wagga stockists to fulfil, and a boutique in Canberra also stocking her jewellery designs, Amy, now also a mum to two-year-old Londyn, certainly has a busy time ahead of her juggling motherhood and her budding business (especially as both Londyn and Kobi often try and share the same enthusiasm for jewellery design). But, as she smiles, still the ever bubbly creative entrepreneur that she is, she casually tells me she’s actually only managed a few hours’ sleep after spending most of the evening rolling beads ready for designs she’s preparing for three market stalls in the lead-up to Christmas.
But, she says she also wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I definitely think I’ve found my feet and I’m running with it now. I’ll just keep running with bulk loads of coffee,” she laughs.
Words: Rosie O’Keeffe Pictures: Rosie O’Keeffe & Amy Molkentin