Selective Focus: Joya by Hand

Photo by Menique Koos (@meniquekoosphoto)

Mari Doffin is a polymer clay artist from Duluth who loves to play with shapes, colors and themes. She primarily creates earrings, which are sold online and at a number of local boutiques.

How did Joya by Hand come to be?

Joya by Hand started as a random idea to make clay jewelry for fun and it transformed into a business that I am proud of. I started Joya right before the pandemic, and it soon became my main source of income. It also became the outlet for my creativity during the darkest moments of 2020.

What is the meaning behind the name?

Joya (pronounced like hoy-a) by Hand was a name that I picked because I love Spanish. I wanted to be able to incorporate a Spanish word into my business name, but I didn’t realize that it could be confusing for anyone who isn’t familiar with Spanish pronunciation!

Photos by Menique Koos (@meniquekoosphoto)

Are you a full time maker, or what else do you do professionally?

Until recently, I had been doing Joya full time for the past 2 years. I am studying criminology and Spanish studies at UMD, and I am trying to find my place within the field of criminology. I’m currently exploring what it is like to be an advocate for victims of domestic violence as a shelter advocate at Safe Haven Shelter and Resource Center. But I’m interested in trying out other aspects of criminology too.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from many aspects of my life. I get ideas from my travels, emotions, and colors and patterns that I see in clothing or in nature. My favorite inspiration is flowers and greenery.

Photo by Olivia Zyzo (@takenbyolivia)

Photo by Mari Doffin

Why earrings as opposed to another form of art?

Earrings have been my preferred art form because I am at ease when I use polymer clay. I find it fun and almost natural for me to make designs with my hands. I am not very good at painting or drawing, so polymer clay was an easy choice.

Photo by Olivia Zyzo (@takenbyolivia)

What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your own business?

The most challenging aspect of starting my business was the fear of actually believing in myself. It is scary to put yourself out there for people to judge and comment on. The earrings I make are a part of myself, and I definitely felt vulnerable when I would post new styles. But when you’re running your own business, you need to be your own cheerleader!

Photo by Cece Boyle (@ccboylephotos)

What has been the best part?

The best part about this business has been connecting with people in Duluth who I would have never met without starting Joya. I sell at a few local shops that are run by the coolest women business owners. I have the privilege to work alongside a group of kind and welcoming artists and makers. I also get to meet the sweetest customers at outdoor markets and festivals. Running a business in Duluth is a dream because this community appreciates local art.

Photo by Menique Koos (@meniquekoosphoto)

Where can folks shop Joya?

Joya by Hand is in stock at the Duluth Studio Market, DLH clothing, Hucklebeary and in Minneapolis at the Coconut Whisk Cafe.

Where can people find you online?

You can shop for Joya earrings on my Instagram page @joya.byhand. Feel free to message me with any questions or requests. My custom orders are always open!

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