If you haven’t heard of this local jewelry designer yet, Morgan Chase is the founder and owner of Nornir Materiel. Morgan moved to Montclair at a young age. After graduating from Montclair High, she went to Rutgers to study evolutionary anthropology. Although she still works in science and research, Morgan grew up with artistic parents and always had a creative side to her. At first, jewelry came about as a creative outlet while she was home last year during quarantine and since then it has turned into not only a business but a new passion. Keep reading to learn more about Morgan Chase and her new chic jewelry line.
The Montclair Girl: How long have you lived Essex County?
Morgan Chase: I lived in Montclair essentially until I moved away for college. My family still lives by Brookdale Park in the house I grew up in so I visit all the time, and I have my jewelry workshop there now as well!
MG: Tell us about Nornir Materiel.
MC: I design thread earrings and charms that can be curated into works of art on your ear, but at the end of the day they are endlessly wearable. I knew that if we were putting something out into the world we couldn’t take anything away, so the mission of Nornir Materiel is to offset all emissions by planting trees, and to source materials from ethical origins only. My passion in life is a wildlife rescue, so a donation to a wildlife charity will come from every purchase as well.
MG: How did you come up with the idea for Nornir Materiel?
MC: The initial idea came from my need for completely comfortable and wearable jewelry. I have several piercings and I was tired of my ears being sore after wearing headphones or even sleeping. Various lightning bolts of inspiration later and Nornir Materiel came into being. The easiest part of developing this was creating the principles and ethics that I wanted to espouse.
MG: Tell us about how you biodegradable materials you use.
MC: The jewelry box and shipping bag are both biodegradable. I love the box that my dad helped me design, so I hope people keep it, but I definitely wanted it to be eco-friendly anyway.
MG: What is your design process like?
MC: Inspiration comes from anywhere for me. I follow a lot of metalsmiths and jewelry designers [online] and other visual artists. Sometimes I’ll see one little thing that will spark a whole set of ideas for me. I experiment as much as I can to come up with new styles, either on my ear or my sister’s ear.
MG: What would you say sets your earrings apart from others?
MC: The Nornir Materiel Curated Thread Stack is totally new. Thread earrings have been around for ages, but I have never seen anyone doing what we are doing which is why it excites me so much! Turning thread earrings into curated styles with charms and beads and creative threading means the styles can go from edgy to professional to whimsical. Definitely not one-size-fits-all so these earrings are for everyone.
MG: What are the most popular styles?
MC: The Diamond Spike and the Starbursts seem to get the most attention. The Bead Charms were more popular than I expected as soon as I put them on the website.
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MG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
MC: My husband tells me every day how much he believes in me. His support is so motivating and makes me feel like I can really go wild with this. And since my parents are so artistic, I always felt like I must have some creative talents just waiting to come out.
MG: What are your goals for this year?
MC: I want to grow this business. I have so many goals for the long term, like opening up an animal rescue or other big collaborations with charities, so I truly hope for growth in the business that can allow me to do all those things.
MG: What’s a typical day look like for you?
MC: First thing I’ll review any new metals or materials that I receive and see what I want to work on for the day. I try to invest a good amount of time on planning new designs, because as a small business you want to make sure you’re always creating new things that will reach new people. I try to set a good amount of time aside for doing the social media aspects since that is so crucial for a new business. I might do that part over lunch, so then after that, I can review the website and make sure everything is updated and newsletters have been sent out. I try to spend the best sunlight hours taking product photos either out in the garden or on a friend or family member who is willing to model for me. Evenings are usually back to engaging on social media, so unfortunately I’m tied to my phone a lot of the day.
MG: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?
MC: Starting my business was such a big moment for me. I couldn’t believe I had been able to bring this idea to life and have such support from friends and family. It was so rewarding and so exhausting at the same time.
MG: Anything else you want to share about Montclair or yourself?
MC: Growing up in Montclair I knew it was a special place, but I’ve been shocked going out into the world and seeing how many people know our little town. It’s world-famous, I swear.
MG: What is your favorite restaurant in Montclair?
MC: Small spots like Mr. Dino’s or Bonjour Montclair, or Sunrise where I’ve been getting bagels for what seems like forever. So many restaurants have opened since I was growing up I haven’t had a chance to try them all. Back in the day, the Soda Pop Shop was the best!
MG: What is your favorite boutique in Montclair?
MC: I love to follow Nouvelle, and Culture Couture is a classic Church Street boutique.
MG: What do you love most about Montclair?
MC: It is the quintessential hometown to me. Parks and shops within walking distance. Beautiful homes and tree-lined streets.
MG: What is your favorite thing to do in Essex County?
MC: Either Eagle Rock Reservation or Liberty Science Center which I haven’t been to in too long.
MG: Tell us about another business in the area you admire.
MC: Any of the little boutiques that are competing against the big shops moving into town. Culture Couture, Dem Two Hands, Dot Reeder. I really appreciate now how hard it can be to establish yourself.
MG: What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Essex County?
MC: I grew up around the corner from Brookdale Park, so that has to be my pick.
MG: What is your favorite place to work out in Essex County?
MC: When I take a break from work I’ll bike ride all around Brookdale or up to Valley Road sometimes. I’d love to check out the Gravity Vault soon too. I used to go to the other gym on Route 17 years ago. Rock climbing is fantastic.
MG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?
MC: Usually a park, but sometimes out to eat too. Lately, when I go around town I’m running around with my 7-year-old niece!
MG: What is something you think needs to come to Montclair?
MC: Montclair has it all these days. If you don’t visit a certain area of town for a while, there will be tons of new shops to see. It’s been a whole new town since I was growing up.