Everviolet Chats: Patti Pagliei-Simpson, Waxing Poetic
October 17, 2019
We love supporting survivors and women-owned businesses, especially ones that are more than just brands and also tell a story. Lucky for us, we had the joy of sitting down with Pattie Pagliei-Simpson, Founder, CEO and Creative Director of the beautiful jewelry line Waxing Poetic, whose designs share a message, provoke emotion and highlight sustainability and craftsmanship. When Patti created her first jewelry collection, she used her life challenges as fuel to establish something that connects us as women and humans, integrating soul and poetic accents into each design. To learn what goes into the making of each piece, the story behind one of our favorite collections “violet” as well as how she handled running a business and fighting breast cancer at the same time, read our latest #EvervioletChats below.
Did all signs lead you to the jewelry business? How did Waxing Poetic come about?
Waxing Poetic was born during a year when I was experiencing some major shifts in my life – a divorce, a dot-com layoff, and then 9/11 – very scary times that sent me looking inward, embracing who I was beyond the identity others gave me. It was then that I uncovered the gift of these little wax seal charms that celebrate the imperfect – leading the way to bigger expression, connection on a greater scale than I had imagined and a path for entrepreneurial adventure.
Where does the name come from?
These pieces needed a special name because they meant more than just what they look like. One day, my husband just blurted out with enthusiasm “these are Waxing Poetic.” It just came out, like a gift from beyond, and that was IT!
Waxing Poetic is a name that embodies both the process of how we make the jewelry – the “lost wax” method – and also the intention behind it, to become more of who we truly are. So the name captured the “poetic” and harder to describe quality behind these pieces that our customers are drawn to and that we seek to uncover.
Why are your designs more than just an accessory?
All of our designs have a “signature” of sorts – an iconic identifier, poetry, symbolism. There is a humble and potent energy in each handmade piece as the wearer brings meaning to it, combining these pieces in a way that holds their own beliefs and intentions. Just like the artifacts of ancient cultures, which were not just for adornment, but carried information, I guide my work in this magical space of connection and story, aiming to infuse each piece with something special as the spirit moves me.
Can you explain how your pieces are made?
We have a saying, “by hand, by heart, and always true.” This is our guiding product principle. We want everything to feel special, and that starts with intention and moves through the process of how it is made. Most everything is handcrafted and all designs are original.
My own process is simply connecting with what I, myself, want to explore, and if it inspires me, oftentimes it will also inspire our customers. We collaborate in the design process here in California, along with input from my sister, Lizanne, and our team. Our carver and smiths are located in Bali, Indonesia and we consider them as our extended family – we hold each other’s trust and connect through the process to ensure that we have something beautiful to behold and put out into the world.
As a believer in transparency and sustainability, can you describe the ethics of your team and makers?
Indonesia is one of the only regions today that makes a worthy living off of ancient crafts and traditions like silversmithing. The quality and care given to each piece is unmatched. We believe in caring for each other and the tradition of silversmithing, along with the environment, and we work hard to make decisions to protect these. Many of the employees are family members, and many have been with us over 10 years. Craftsmen and women are cross-trained to unify and help each other in illness or over religious holidays. And most of the employees are trained in bead work in case he/she chooses to take the overflow work home to make extra money, or if a mother would like to stay home with her children and make an income. The wages are fair and the integrity is high.
Recycled materials are used while other materials are reused as much as possible. And the decision to purchase new technology or machinery is weighed by how much it helps with efficiency and speed without compromising skill and the human touch. Human touch and craftsmanship will always be what we value most. Skill sets are prioritized and cultivated, and every stage is carried by human hands.
How do you define Beauty?
Beauty is a quality – whatever it means for whomever it means at whatever time - it is something that moves us to be more connected to truth.
What’s the story behind the LITTLE GOES FAR “violet” collection?
We’ve been in love with violets for a long time. Their shape, their associated symbolism (memory, devotion, faithfulness, innocence, emotional depth, empathy, and spiritual yearning), and the fact that they’re probably the most irrefutably feminine of flowers would be enough to inspire us, but when we read poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman’s book "A Natural History of the Senses" and learned that violets have an almost magical quality that distinguishes them from all other flowers, we knew we had to create this collection.
And did you know – nature gave violets a unique and memorable gift: there is a chemical property in violets that causes a delay in human scent perception. When you smell a violet, your brain can’t process it for a few seconds, and so every time you inhale their fragrance, you are actually inhaling a memory.
We chose the name LITTLE GOES FAR for this collection as a reminder of our power as women, our hidden complexities and our innate ability to leave lasting impressions. Violets may be small in scale, demure in design, but make no mistake, they have unexpected powers of enchantment. What better flower to embody and celebrate women, our femininity and limitless potential?
How did your experience with breast cancer affect your outlook on your company or the way you ran it?
I was always going, going, going, serving the needs of the company that had grown a bit out of control prior to diagnosis. I was driven and had forgotten myself, and it hit me hard when faced with breast cancer: I needed to slow down, reevaluate what really mattered and live and work from that place. Luckily, I had so much support from my sister and our team, who ran the company while I went through treatment.
When I came back, I had a new perspective, and a will to live fully. My naturopath helped me understand how to have a healthy relationship with my work, and that I needed to always keep my own creativity and magic fed, and steer away from influences to grow the company in a way that disregarded this. This meant that changes had to be made in order for me to be able to continue, and with my husband and our team, we did it: we did a healthy downsizing, and put our mission, and our hearts, back in the driver’s seat. Now, if something doesn’t make our lives more beautiful, more felt and more fulfilling at Waxing Poetic, we don’t do it.
How did breast cancer change you?
It made me braver, more alive and more appreciative. I got reacquainted with my life and myself. I felt the love of others in a way I had never known and I know that it's always available. I wish to give, I delight in doing love, listening with my heart instead of my head and being of service to others.
I don’t get worked up over much these days because I am constantly seeking the beauty in each moment. And my creativity is stronger than ever – every day brings me closer to a more complete expression of my purpose here because I truly feel blessed to be alive.
What would you say is your favorite mantra or quote that inspires you?
So many, but this one by Maya Angelou feels good right now “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Last, where can we shop your beautiful jewelry?
We’re online at www.waxingpoetic.com (and you can search for a local boutique there also!).