Mary-Jean Treloar, a South African jeweler putting her passion for Africa into precious metals

Mary-Jean Treloar is the founder of MΛRY JEΛN JEWELLERY in South Africa, a designer and manufacturer of fine handmade jewelry that is inspired by patterns and symbols found across the African continent. Mary-Jean unearthed a spark for jewelry design and manufactureing at a young age, but it remained a hobby she dabbled in while she completed a BSc degree in Interior Architecture at Pretoria University and worked in the Corporate Architecture industry.

Eventually, in 2014 Mary-Jean decided to follow her true passion, completing a short beginners’ course in jewelry design, before embarking on a self-taught journey of design and manufacture that affords her the opportunity to learn, design and create truly handcrafted jewelry every day.

I grew up in a creative family that has an incredible love of geology and semi-precious gemstones. So from a very young age I started going on many remote family holidays across Southern Africa where we would dig for and find our own gemstones. My father then taught me how to cut, shape and polish them. The lapidary workshop where I cut my stones was doing a silversmithing course where you could set some of your stones into silver and I decided I wanted to give it a try. I instantly fell in love with the art of SIlversmithing! Something in me just clicked and sparked!

After school I went on to study a Bsc in Interior Architecture and thereafter I worked for a year at a luxury safari lodge before returning to the Architectural industry. Throughout all this, silversmithing continued to be just my hobby, until 2014, when I just couldn’t ignore the fact that it was now my passion! And so I resigned from my job as an Interior Architect and started my first jewellery brand called ‘The lucky bean range’ that still currently supplies jewellery exclusively to the luxury safari industry. MΛRY JEΛN Jewellery came about last year April out of a desire to develop a personal brand where I could design truly unique, quality handcrafted and African inspired jewellery that could run alongside my other brand, as well as challenge me as a designer and manufacturer.

My first creative entrepreneurial memories are from as early as Grade 3 while at Fields primary school in Rustenburg, where I would (without fail) take part in every entrepreneur’s day market. I would sell the strangest handmade goods, from candles that I’d made in old painted tuna tins, to knitted pom poms, to homemade oatmeal biscuits. My friend’s dad even supported this streak by ordering biscuits from me for a guest house that he ran, and so by age 8 I was baking in the evenings, planning my packaging, working out my costs and without knowing it, I was grooming my inner entrepreneur!

Here’s her advice to every female entrepreneur;

“1. Doubt is your biggest enemy! Keep positive by surrounding yourself with positive and encouraging people that believe in you, you are going to need to lean on them a lot!

2. Just start! Small steps every day lead up to your bigger end goals. Remember: “The man on top of the mountain didn’t just fall there” – Vince Lombardi

3. Celebrate every little victory. There are going to be a lot of difficult and tough steps to climb along the way but when you do accomplish something, however small, be sure to celebrate it! This carries you through the tough times and brings joy into your entrepreneurial journey.”

Credits | Lionesses of Africa.