Company Name/Instagram Username
Hi! We are Mary & Michael, partners at Flow Studio Jewelry in Milwaukee, FlowMKE for short.
Accounts on IG: @flowmke (finished jewelry)
@flowmke2 (behind-the-scenes for makers – process, bench tips, info on tools & classes)
Occupation: (Can be your day job/and or your e-commerce)
We are studio jewelers, instructors, and makers of tools for jewelry makers
How did the idea for your company come about?
We’ve been jewelry makers for years; tool designers for just the past few years. Our ideas for our made-in-Milwaukee tools came from teaching classes. The first tools we designed were our SmoothSet steel punches for tube setting. Students needed an affordable set in useful sizes. Reviews of commercial sets weren’t very favorable and we thought we could do better. Now students and pros alike buy our tools: They are affordable and they work.
What should our supply subscribers know about your business (products or services offered)?
We’d want to tell them about other products we designed and offer, such as our Perfect Bench Pin: Bench pins have been made of wood for hundreds of years, without any improvements in features or benefits for the jeweler. We said, “How could we improve on this? What features would make it more useful?” (And we also had to ask, “Can we make it in Milwaukee? Answer: Yes).
What personal philosophy has served you well in business?The bezel pushers/burnishers you received [March Supply Drop] are two popular products in our SmoothSet group. Our SmoothSet punch set is designed for tube-setting gemstones with just one strike of a small hammer. It is high quality (perfectly smooth where the punch contacts the setting) yet affordable, with just the most-needed sizes. Like the bezel pushers, it is made in Milwaukee and gets 5-star reviews (easy to use, outstanding quality, “best on the market and I’ve tried them all,” etc.)
All the tools and supplies we sell are things we use ourselves: “By jewelry makers for jewelry makers” is how we put it. We understand the techniques you use and we can help. That’s why you’ll see a lot of process and bench tip posts in the @flowMKE2 feed.
Favorite product or tool tip (for your item included in our box)?
Don’t be afraid to modify the bezel pusher for your hand. You can soften the corners and edges with sandpaper until it feels just right. You don’t need to soften the curved end, but you can if you want.
Where do you find design inspiration for new pieces, stones, products, etc.?
Our best ideas (for products) have come out of the classroom. When we teach, we see how other makers are using tools or supplies, and sometimes we notice that a tool could be made better or to fill a need.
How do you get around creative blocks?
Simply getting to the bench in a disciplined way helps – each day, every day. (And that’s a goal, by the way, not always our reality.) Even to show up and create things in production mode is helpful – shaping earring wires or cutting jump rings, for example. It always leads to creating work that is more interesting, eventually, for the same reason that a long hot shower or driving the car works: the actions are repetitive and automatic, and your mind is freed up to focus on solving problems or creating new things. You’re in the flow.
From Mary: I always travel with a sketchbook and favorite black LePen marker. There are many designs in that book waiting to be realized – I just have to look back to get inspired. Sometime that’s all it takes to push me back into creative mode: I can tell myself I’m simply going to “execute” one of those designs instead of getting overwhelmed by “creating from scratch.”
Is there something we don't know about you but should?
Take your pick – here’s a couple of things.
- We just renamed the studio – Michael established the studio in his name in 2006 and I joined him as collaborating artist/business partner in 2013. My last name is Wohlgemuth – too much for a studio name! FlowMKE reflects some of our surroundings and passions – solder flows (exactly where you want it when the solder gods are with you, right?), we’re on the Great Lakes, I’m a lifelong swimmer/water fanatic/water aerobics instructor and scuba diver, we live near Lake Michigan and adore traveling to the ocean … and when creativity and fabrication skills align, you’re in the flow.
- Each year we teach for a week at the Bead&Button Show in Milwaukee – it’s a huge event that draws visitors from around the world. And we still have a few seats left for June!
- Both of us ride motorcycles and we are getting excited as the temps rise a little here in Wisconsin.
Thanks for this opportunity! We really appreciate your support of small U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs. Your support is what keeps our li’l studio going!
~Mary Wohlgemuth & Michael Thee