Designer Bio

Hi there, and welcome to my little nook!

I'm Marina, the pair of hands behind Pliers & String Jewelry Atelier.  I'm a designer, a crafter, a doodler, an animal lover and a bit of a hoarder (just the right amount tho). 

Originally from Bulgaria, I am thankful to have grown up surrounded by makers. My grandmothers were fervent disciples of their craft, keen on teaching me crochet, knitting and needlepoint. As a small child, witnessing a delicate lacy shape emerge out of a tiny hook and spool of thread was nothing short of bewitching. I would watch my grandma's needle slide through canvas, guided by a seemingly incomprehensible pattern of characters outlining the complex color scheme which would culminate in a glorious composition made entirely of tiny stitches. And I can still feel the homemade wooly pants I wore in the snow (sometimes two at a time), their knobby texture perhaps a bit funny but incredibly warm and comfy. These women instilled in me, from early on, an ardent desire to create with my own hands.

My parents and I left Bulgaria when I was ten. We didn't take much because we weren't technically allowed to leave—communist bloc and all—but I had my lone Barbie doll, which my father had bought abroad while working in Syria in the 80's (I think she was a gift for my 6th birthday). My knitting and crochet skills atrophied while I pursued drawing and making clothes for Barbie. Commencing with silly things like cutting up a punctured beach ball to make a swimsuit, I started sewing by hand, graduated to one of those dinky handheld gizmos, and by the time I was a sophomore in high school I had a sturdy old Sears Kenmore table-top and was making my own clothes. One thing led to another, and in a few years I'd moved to Los Angeles to study fashion design. I worked as a jewelry designer's assistant (eventually designing an entire line), a kid's clothing designer, and eventually a denim designer for a global lifestyle brand.

A decade later, I was tired of corporate fashion. I inwardly resented my part in the whole process of spewing product made cheap at the expense of others, for no good reason except profits. When I was notified of my layoff, I breathed a sigh of relief. Don’t get me wrong—I worked with some amazing people, learned a helluvalot, and value my experience through and through. But I was ready to move on.

The newfound freedom raised and pointed my creative antennae in all sorts of directions and I wanted to do everything. I took up macramé, made new curtains, drafted dress patterns. I decided to open an Etsy shop, and after brainstorming on a name for days, it finally clicked. Pliers and string: a simple homage to the infinite possibilities brought forth by simple tools and the imagination. I wanted to convey a broader concept to leave room for creative exploration because I am a perpetual learner and love padding my skills belt.

So here we are! A journey that started out years ago as a dinky Etsy shop with erratic listings (lace appliquéd glass vase, anyone??) has since evolved into a jewelry line with faithful stockists and features in several publications. Now I wear all of the hats, and sure, that can be stressful. But I can’t really put into words how wonderful it is to do something on your own terms, with your own two hands, in pursuit of your own dreams.

Thanks for stopping by and being a part of my journey!