The jewelry designer with an international career speaks about the need and the magic of creativity, and the life realism of a woman that managed to build family and career at the same time, in five different continents. She explains the real value of jewelry, the concept of aesthetics and how elegance, which is not a trend but…, can be achieved…
Building a career in five continents
By Christina Katsantoni
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
In life one plus one equals two, except if you allow it to equal three. The only thing needed is a dose of magic and the career of the globally renowned jewellery designer, Ileana Makri, confirms that the famous phrase of Blanche DuBois has its touchstone. Life doesn’t only need realism, but also magic…
Ileana Makri was born a traveller that loves faraway destinations, small and big dreams and detailed items. Since she was a little girl she’s always liked creating things with her hands. A German female teacher passionate with jewellery was what pointed her towards that direction. She discovered that she was inspired by jewellery and her mind wondered. As she was growing up, this love didn’t fade away, but was just temporarily put aside.
Life in the US
She studied Business Administration following the trend of the time. After that, big changes came. She got married, became a mother and built a new life in New York where she had the chance to communicate with people like Andy Warhol and to be inspired by personalities like Indian philosopher Krishnamurti whom she followed to his speeches in New York and California. The end of her marriage signaled a new beginning to her career. What she really loved, was now back to her life and the desire to create returned with more intensity. Then, Ileana Makri decided to follow her passion and studied jewellery design in the Gemological Institute of Santa Monica.
In 1985 she returned to Greece along with her two daughters and after working in “Faces” magazine she opened the first “concept store” of Athens in 1987, using items that had no clear connection to each other except from their aesthetics. Initially “Magic” started to exist because customers didn’t actually understand what she was selling. Gradually, she got her own audience of customers who loved the aesthetics of her items.
Magic was back to her life for good as she had already started designing her own jewellery, not with the aim of launching a great career but mainly to fulfill her need to create. And one small and thin wedding ring was the reason for her to take the big step. Jewellery for Ileana Makri is microsculpture and this love of hers for miniatures pushed her towards creating a very thin wedding ring. In 1999 the sales manager of Barney’s saw her collection and since then, Barney’s has been ordering it constantly for 20 years.
The thin wedding ring was the start. But the international consolidation of a brand is not easy, especially for a mother who’s a creator and businesswoman at the same time. Ileana Makri found a way to balance everything out. She found more time in long-hour faraway flights and inspiration through meeting different cultures. So her brand travelled in all over the world and her creations were selected from famous ladies like Uma Thurman who was charmed by a series of leather and diamond flowers. The decision to end “Magic” was a tough one but going against the negative economic circumstances, she opened a new shop named after her, in Athens, in December 2014. In this shop she focuses not only in jewellery and accessories but in a lot of her personal creations and creations of talented designers from all over the world. Their shared code is aesthetics. Aesthetics beyond trends and currents, which for her, is a way of life, like elegance.
The real value
For Ileana Makri, jewelerry is a way to bring beauty in life. It covers the universal need to decorate, a need that she’s felt since she was a little child. It doesn’t need to be expensive to carry value.
Her philosophy is summarised with the phrase: “jewellery that make everyday life more beautiful”. She makes jewellery for people that want to enjoy them and keep them as company throughout their lives. She always believes that jewellery is not only about its material value and not just an investment. The real value of jewellery is to have enjoyed it and to have shared with it moments of magic in your daily life.