Molly Conant has had a lifelong love affair with art; taking inspiration from both her family and from the styles exhibited on the runway by the titans of fashion. With the help of social media and her own tenacity, she has turned her popular blogspot into a launching pad for her growing brand by the name of Rackk and Ruin. While some may say social media has alienated us, she highlights a new type of community that communicates with the click of a finger. Molly’s vision is something she wishes to share with the world.
Why did you start your blog?
I started around 2009 and I had just discovered the idea of fashion blogs and street style blogs. I had no idea there was a whole world out there of blogging. It happened to coincide with me finding out how much I loved making jewelry, and I thought that if somebody was interested in my aesthetic and in my blog, then those people would become customers. It did help a lot in the beginning because it’s so hard to make a name for yourself.
When did you start to express yourself through art?
I'm from what people would call an artsy family, and it goes back generations with painters, photographers, boat builders... My mom is an art teacher and artist and my dad is a self-taught metalworker, so I was incredibly lucky to be raised in an environment where creativity was wholly encouraged. My sister Alden and I always had access to plenty of art supplies as kids, but our dress-up box was unquestionably my favorite tool of expression- it probably still is!
What inspires you?
I'm continuously influenced by the materials around me, whether it's the metal mesh of a 1920s flapper bag, dead stock decorative banding from a metal fabrication company down in Rhode Island, an antique trinket found at a flea market, or the living finish on an old sheet of copper. Had I gone to school for jewelry design or metalwork I may have been required to sketch a piece on paper before making it, but being autodidactic means that I often design as I fabricate and find additional inspiration through trial and error. Now that I'm working with fine metals, and wanting to create pieces that are more easily replicable, I've been putting added thought into my designs before jumping right in – but I still allow my creative process to be intuitive. Additionally, I find that steady visual stimulation through Pinterest, fashion editorials, street style and travels with my sister always aid my creativity.
Do you consider yourself a blogger?
I don’t know if I would consider myself necessarily a blogger. I do think there is an importance to putting yourself out there and having a social media presence. I think there is an importance of putting a little bit of you in everything you make. I try to do that through Instagram because I think people like to relate and feel more connected to the maker.
What have your experiences been with social media, in general?
I have had a great experience using social media. I started Instagram 2 or 3 years ago and I only knew two other people on the app. I loved it because it was a more visual media. I have a Twitter account, but I just love the visual aspect of Instagram, that's what attracted me. It’s a really supportive community. I’ve gotten many customers through it as well. I am inspired by other Instagram accounts that sell vintage such as @shoppainted_bird and @foxandfawn but I'm a big fan of Painted Bird.
If you were to give advice to newcomers, what would it be?
I just read a quote that really resonated with me - "Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle." If you try and do this you'll never be satisfied, you'll never feel successful or accomplished. Insecurities abound when you're starting out so try to focus on your own growth and celebrate the small successes along the way.
When did you decide to focus on jewelry?
My dad taught us how to soldier when we were pretty young. I can remember a joint effort between my sister and I that resulted in a silver ring for our mom when I was around 10, but I regretfully never took a metals class in high school or college. When I was a few years out of school, working on my boyfriend's vegetable farm and waitressing, I was inspired by a feather necklace I saw someone wearing on the street style blog The Facehunter. After making a few of my own as Christmas gifts (which also incorporated leather and zipper teeth), I wore one to work one night and was psyched to discover that co-workers and customers actually wanted to buy them! After that, jewelry quickly became not only a new, albeit small, income for me, but also an immediate form of therapy. It was the middle of a frigid Vermont winter, yet my yearly bout of seasonal depression seemed to all but disappear after discovering this new hobby. My designs changed as my skills developed, and I soon shifted from feathers to repurposed materials and working with fine metals.
What do you think makes you different from others in the DIY community?
I love seeing the projects, but I haven’t really tried other people's. I remember my own first DIY I did about a spike headband. I had seen it on the runway and I just thought it looked so bad-ass. It’s fun to find those kind of fashions and trends and then not necessarily buying them but going to the Salvation Army find the fabrics that you want. I just love changing things even further and no one else will have it. DIY has had a huge impact on my life and I know how happy it makes me, and I just know that other people find joy in this too.
What is the hardest and easiest part of being an artist?
Three months ago I left my long time waitressing job to become fully focus on Rackk and Ruin. When I was getting ready to make the leap, my dad gave me a copy of Austin Kleon's book Steal Like an Artist. With lines like "Don't wait until you know who you are to get started", it was just the kind of motivation I needed for the terrifying transition ahead of me. It's hard to put yourself out there; to have the confidence to create and sell your work. That said, if you keep waiting until you're ready than you'll never move forward. Self-employment also calls for organization/time management skills and bookkeeping knowledge, both of which do not come naturally to me. Luckily, I've learned that I can hire my weaknesses. The easiest part is how incredibly fun and liberating it is to get to be a maker full-time.
What are your future plans?
Motivated by the positive response I’ve received, I plan to continue to develop Rackk and Ruin jewelry and expand my current wholesale accounts - targeting shops that share my aesthetic and focus on selling USA made, well crafted products. I will also be taking some specialized jewelry classes at Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in Sand Francisco this year to learn skills I can’t easily gain from YouTube tutorials!
To fuel my love of vintage, I am venturing into the world of Instagram-as-marketplace (inspired by successful shops like @foxandfawn) with Rackk and Ruin Vintage. The new account, @rackkandruinvintage, will include vintage and repurposed clothing available for purchase.
Where can we find you on the web especially social media?
My main Instagram account is @rackkandruin and my Rackk and Ruin Vintage Instagram vintage account is @rackkandruinvintage. The vintage Instagram will be up and running very soon. My twitter is also @rackkandruin and my website.