Oru, a japanese word meaning "to weave", is the name of the company created by two artists. Both Megan McKean and Agnieszka Zoltowski are the makers that weave together carefully curated and skillfully designed jewelry. We had a moment to hear the stories, inspirations and lessons that come from both co owners. Megan, one half of the brand, studied Graphic Design at Cal Poly San Luis. It's evident that a graphic designer is on this team with their perfected branding and product. We always want to know about the maker behind the product, how they began and how they are sustaining a life in the arts. Meet Megan McKean of Oru.
What is your background?
I grew up in Northern California about 60 miles outside of San Francisco. I was introduced to art by my grandma who started painting with me long before I can even remember. I took a variety of different art classes throughout junior high and high school and always knew that I wanted to peruse a degree in the arts. In 2012 I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BFA in graphic design. Less than a week after graduation, I packed up my things and moved to Portland, Oregon where I met Agnieszka and we started our business together!
How did you get into jewelry design? What was life like before jewelry design?
I had a tough time adjusting when I first moved away for college, so I bought some tools and starting making earrings in my dorm room in my spare time. I brought the earrings that I made home and I was surprised when people actually wanted to pay for my work! I continued making and selling jewelry as a way to earn extra money while I was in school, but it wasn't until I moved to portland that I actually saw jewelry making as a potential career.
Do you make anything other than jewelry?
Nothing and everything at the same time! I love doing things myself so i usually want to try and make anything that I think I need. Shelving, bowls, clothes… I've tried it all! Some things are just better left to the experts.
Did you always think you'd have your own business?
Yes and no. I think deep down I have always wanted to have my own business, but my practical side wanted the stability and benefits that come along with working for an established company. Where I grew up, there wasn't a huge maker community so I think that moving to Portland made the idea of self employment a lot more attainable.
What inspires you? Who is your biggest inspiration?
I am inspired by my family, other makers and by the city I live in. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing a community of people who support each other and are able to earn a living by doing what they love. I don't think I would be where I am today if I hadn't met so many amazing makers and entreprenuers. Agnieszka has definitely helped me step out of my comfort zone which has resulted in a great deal of personal and professional growth.
Tell me about the different pieces in your collection. Do you have a favorite?
My favorite piece right now is our Shushumna earrings. They have the most beadwork out of all the pieces so there is a lot of texture and color.
Can you describe a day at Oru? How large is the Oru team?
Depending on the day, it can be anything really! Sometimes we will have a full day of beading, others are spent designing pieces for the new collection. It changes day to day which definitely keeps things interesting. Right now it is just the two of us working full time, but we have had a lot of support from friends and family who have helped us get to where we are today.
What's your favorite music to listen to when you work?
When I'm alone, I don't tend to listen to any music when I work! I listen more to NPR but it usually just ends up just being background noise. In the studio we listen to KEXP or jazz depending on our mood.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running your business?
So many things! For me I think it is not getting too attached to any one idea and being open to change. Our first ideas are not always our best, so we have learned to have the idea, take some space, and then return to it with a fresh perspective and an open mind.
What's next for Oru?
We have a lot of new and fun things in the works! We just finished rebranding, and we’re also working on a new collection launching this summer. We’re excited to share it with you!