Meet the former IBM project manager who is innovating jewelry design in Wilmington - Technical.ly Delaware

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Feb. 17, 2020 4:35 pm

Meet the former IBM project manager who is innovating jewelry design in Wilmington

"I had to redefine what success looks like to me," said lolahSoul founder Kamysha Martin.
Kamysha Martin of lolahSoul.

Kamysha Martin of lolahSoul.

(Courtesy image)

Not many people can say they walked away from a good-paying job with IBM, but Kamysha Martin is one of them. The former project manager left the job in 2015 for something entirely different: to focus on her handmade “modern organic” jewelry line, lolahSoul.

It all started out as a way to express herself.

“I would buy jewelry that was supposedly ‘one of a kind,'” Martin told Technical.ly, “and I would see the same piece on three different people. I thought, if I really want something that’s one of a kind, I have to do it myself.”

One metalsmithing class with Traci Parman at the Delaware College of Art and Design was all it took. Before long, friends and acquaintances were asking her if she sold her jewelry.

“I came up with lolahSoul because it’s easier to remember than [Kamysha],” she said. She did a little Etsy, but found her best online platform was Instagram. She also started selling at craft shows in the region.

One day, she walked into the Delaware Contemporary and told them her pieces were a good fit for its store. She wound up being featured in an exhibition there.

“My hashtag is #beingfearless,” she said.

It was fearlessness that got her to make the move from the nonprofit sector, where she’d worked for 18 years, to a position at IBM that she had been recommended for years before she took it.

Focusing solely on lolahSoul fit her life in the mid-’10s, with her two sons grown, but she didn’t leave corporate life behind forever. In 2018, after learning she was going to be, as she says, a “glam-mom” with her first grandchild on the way, she took a job at JPMorgan Chase, where she currently works while continuing to grow lolahSoul. She wanted to be sure her now-3-year-old grandson has that financial stability.

“I had to redefine what success looks like to me,” she said.

One of Martin’s “fearless” ideas is a mobile jewelry studio, which she brings to customers for parties where guests can each make a piece of jewelry to keep.

“I bring the torch,” she said, “and they learn how to use it.”

The pieces people make via her mobile jewelry studio, at events called Metal with a Twist, are simple, customizable pieces such as a silver ring or initial pendant. Parties last about three and a half hours and, like popular “paint and sip” classes, includes wine — but only after guests are finished using the torch.

It’s sort of the next level beyond painting mugs or wood signs as a group.

“We’ve done it where it’s a bridal party and the piece is a gift that they all wear for the wedding,” she said.

As a largely self-taught metalsmith, Martin has innovated techniques for attaching metal and stone, which she’ll be teaching to aspiring jewelry makers at her first metalsmithing class at the Delaware Art Museum later this year.

“They had been asking me for a while,” she said.

While she’s pretty much stopped doing smaller craft shows, Martin knows her wedding niche and still shows up at the occasional bridal show, including the Delaware Bridal & Wedding Expo at the Chase Center on the Riverfront on Feb. 23.

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