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Rising Stars: Meet Gillian Trask

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gillian Trask. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Gillian gets the question of how she became a jewelry maker and designer quite a bit. Sometimes, a big event causes a person to re-evaluate their life, and for Gillian, it was no different. For her it was not only the death of her father, but also the store she managed was robbed at gunpoint while she was on bereavement leave. Thankfully, no one was physically hurt, but Gillian instantly recognized the shift of what was important- the love for family and friends and the importance of following one’s passion. And so began the birth of Gillian Trask.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I recognized very quickly that I needed to come up with a plan. My Dad had always told me ‘Make a plan’. So, I started talking to other makers and jewelry designers and asking how they got started. I recognized that I needed more fundamental skills in making jewelry so I made an appointment to speak with Lanelle Keyes, Professor and Graduate Advisor in the SCAD jewelry department. It was meeting with Professor Keyes, that showed how important going back to school would be for me. It had been nearly 20 years since I had taken a jewelry class, but somehow, I knew that would be the easy part. The hard part was taking everything that I had learned in jewelry and retail management, finding my voice in my designs, and applying the two to create a functioning, successful business.

I was almost set to graduate when my husband Zack and I learned that we were going to have our daughter, Gabriella. I was so close to finishing school, but with the help of Zack, my Mom and family, I was able to graduate. I think my Mom said something to the effect of ‘The hell I’m going to let you drop out now!’. There’s no way I would have been able to do it without them.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I found my design voice shortly after the birth of my daughter. One day, I was finishing one of my pieces for a class that was scheduled in a few hours. I was exhausted, and rushing to complete my project, I accidentally melted my piece. It was like a switch that went off, and I started to tear apart, melt, build back up and push the boundaries of what that sterling silver could do. I felt exhilarated riding that fine line of melting the metal, and pushing sterling silver and gold to the point of destruction, and then turning it around to (hopefully) a beautiful success. It’s incredibly powerful and empowering.

I recognized that this is bigger than me. I want to share this empowering feeling with others, so each piece is born, melted and sculpted while molten and infused with the power of the flame. I work to achieve unconventional pieces that bring out inner power and celebrate one’s uniqueness.

Giving back is also a huge part of the Gillian Trask mission, and I want to empower others who are powerless, or whose power has been taken away from them. Gillian Trask supports CASA (Courts Appointed Special Advocates), here in Savannah, with the goal to one day provide workshops/coaching for foster children who are aging out of the system. Ideally, empowering them with tools and education to be able to empower themselves. I’m looking forward to participating in CASA’s Dancing With the Stars in May 2022.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
I live by my Dad’s advice: Make a plan. Write it down. Start with your dreams, noting every little spark of an idea. No dream is too big. Then, write down a list on actions to take to make those dreams happen, and suddenly they become goals. My Dad used to say that he didn’t think I had the chops for owning my own business. Man! Did he know how to get me started. Tell me I can’t do something, and watch me go!

I have found that, by setting healthy boundaries, you educate others on how you can keep them in your life. Having your own business can be an emotional roller-coaster. Everything needs to be tested and tried. If it fails, then you are one step closer to what works. And when it works, and people respond with enthusiasm, or when they can feel the energy you put into your work and connect with that- really vibe with that- then you reap the reward. There’s nothing like connecting with another human based solely on your creation. It’s truly a beautiful thing.

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Image Credits

Doug Ordway
Valentin Sivyakov

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