Passion for jewelry - Smyks
From a Bornholm jewelry store to a modern webshop and beading shop in the heart of Copenhagen, where the selection of jewelry materials, courses, and free DIY tutorials make the creative jewelry enthusiast's fingers tingle.
We caught up with Smyk's founder, Martin Pihl, who has seen the company's incredible transformation from the very beginning.
Once upon a time on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic sea
The story of Smyks began in northern Bornholm, where Martin grew up in the countryside. "My father, Bjarne, was a self-employed well driller throughout my childhood, but after a family trip to Egypt in 1991, where we visited an alabaster workshop, he was inspired to make vases, fountains and lamps from Bornholm beach stones and granite".
Bjarne's new business was christened 'Bornholms Natursten' and started in the carport of his home in Olsker, which included a deal with Danish design company Le Klint. "My father used only stone and granite from Bornholm and his products quickly became very successful as handicrafts and souvenirs for tourists in the 90s," says Martin, whose role in the business was still modest.
In 1999, things took a new turn when Martin's parents went on vacation to China and discovered a world of pearls. "My parents wanted to import freshwater pearls to Denmark and Bornholms Natursten changed its name to Svaneke Smykker, which was started in 2001", says Martin about the half-yearly shop that welcomed the many tourists visiting the holiday island of Bornholm every summer. "The shop made jewelry to order, and it often happened that a tourist would fall in love with a pearl necklace or a pair of earrings, which could then be customized according to the customer's measurements and wishes while he or she finished shopping in Svaneke town".
Until 2007, Martin's parents continued their shopping in Thailand and China during the winter months, while the shop remained open during the summer. The shop was sold in 2007, so Svaneke Smykker still exists, albeit with a slightly different concept and assortment.
Smyks is born
After a multimedia education at Design School Kolding, where Martin met Annemarie, the couple moved to Islands Brygge and started a graphic design agency. "I definitely had an entrepreneur in my stomach, and it probably didn't come from strangers," laughs Martin, who worked for a number of years developing computer games and CMS programs before a trip to China in 2006 inspired him to try something new. "My parents and I went to a large industrial area that they knew well to look at goods for the summer shop. It was very inspiring and within a year, Smyks was up and running".
In addition to the new goods from China, Martin took over the remaining stock of beads from Svaneke Smykker and borrowed money from his parents to rent a shop in a basement on Islands Brygge. "In the front room we had a bead shop and in the back room we did graphic design," says Martin, who in 2008 had to give up graphic design altogether to keep up with the growth of the shop.
In the following years, Martin and Annemarie made several store expansions in both Copenhagen and Odense while Smyk's success kept moving forward. In 2016, we turned our focus to the increasing online sales and therefore closed a few of the stores except the one on Islands Brygge, which is also home to the webshop today.
Today, Smyks employs 8 employees and the webshop is available in German, Danish and English, and since 2016, the success has gone extra fast. "Especially in the start-up years, we received invaluable support from both friends and family, which was crucial for us to get here today. For us, Smyks is not just a matter of selling the most beads; our concept has from the beginning emphasized inspiring, teaching and helping people start making their own jewellery", Martin explains.
On smyks.dk as well as in the store, you will not only find a huge range of materials to make your own jewelry - including a wide range of complete jewelry starter kits. You can also read the exciting "Jewelry blog and guide" section, where free and easy-to-read PDF guides and YouTube videos provide guidance on the many techniques and recipes of the jewelry world. Smyk's creative designer, Charlotte, is the creator of this section, and she also offers cozy evening jewelry classes on the latest jewelry techniques. You can find the current list of jewelry courses here.
In addition to focusing on jewelry making, Martin and Annemarie are very concerned with the fight for the environment and nature and it has resulted in several sponsorship agreements for, among others, WWF, Growing Trees Network, Global Climate Institute and especially the association Amager Fælleds Venner, which they have been an active part of since it was established as part of the fight against construction on Amager Fælled.
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Article first published in Noir Magazine July 2021
Smyks shop windows are adorned by Mejsig decoration
Here you can read the story behind Smyks.dk, from souvenir shop on Bornholm to nationwide pearl and jewelry universe.