Chalea, the metal maven behind Mune Studios, has been making jewelry for over ten years. Her heirloom quality pieces are designed to be tough enough to be worn by moms and caregivers with young children. “I’m a mama on a mission to make creations that really speak to those who have sensitive skin as well, and it's important that they're able to wear that jewelry around their children,” says Chalea.
Her family lives on a small working farm in SW Washington. “I've been in the PNW all of my life and I can't imagine living anywhere else, it's the best place to raise my kiddos!”
A long-time artist, she’s been drawing for 18 years. Her passion for making art grew into jewelry design and making back in 2006. She began making pieces just for friends and family at first, but many urged her to turn her hobby into a profession. “I started creating jewelry from raw Argentium silver wire back in 2015 after seeing how endless my horizons could be when you’re capable of making all of your components on your own. My other job, the best in the world, is being called mama,” she says.
She was inspired to start her business because she didn’t see what she wanted in the world. “There simply had not been a line of fine jewelry out there prior that would survive being worn around my little ones,” she explained.
Due to the nickel content in most jewelry, Chalea wasn’t able to wear a lot of jewelry growing up and wished there were more options out there. That, along with her desire to create with her heart, spurred her passion to offer people options in their adornments. Chalea doesn’t think you should have to put away your fine jewelry once you become a mother!
Over time she released a line coined "Mama Metal.” Her use of thicker chains allows little hands to wander up to play with the charms while worn by an adult. Chalea’s unique process causes the metal to create a twinkling noise moms and kids come to know and love.
“The centerpieces have been fused with my torch, hammered by hand, and hardened right in my kitchen stove. There aren’t harsh chemicals involved. I make each piece by hand with attention to detail; with beads and components that are carefully selected from yesterday's trinkets, mom-n-pop shops, & small manufacturers who share my commitment on using safe materials. Seeing the smiles of mothers and children enjoying my necklaces reaffirms that I'm doing what my heart meant to do,” she explains.
Chalea says she has a whole village of inspirational people that have mentored and looked out for her along my path. “I want to say a special thank you to all of those mothers who I am fortunate enough to call friends; those souls that stay with me late at night and helped me equally work through brilliant ideas or helping to pick me back up after tumbles in life,” she says. She also credits her dad as one of her greatest mentors because he always believes in her. “That has made such an amazing impact in my life. I am so appreciative of the effort and energy that has been invested in me.”
Her biggest struggle in business is people not understanding the quality and durability of her jewelry. “People hear "mama metal" and have no concept of it and it can be hard to get them to look past their assumption that I'm just selling regular jewelry; when I am helping to provide them with such comfort and love goes into each piece that I make. They don't know that it's made for mamas to wear while snuggling, nursing, or wearing their children. It's a safe comfort space for their babies and children to reach up to make the centerpiece chime with those wonderfully soft jingles they find so reassuring, she says. Chalea also mentions that even moms wearing the jewelry will often find themselves reaching up to play with their necklaces. “It is soothing to their nerves as well, a measure of comfort in this loud and busy world.”
She advises new business owners to find mentors to help you along the way and build your local tribe of support as quickly as you can. “I believe when you go together you go farther! If you're out there alone trying to do your thing it can be so easy to throw up your hands and toss in the towel if you're struggling. Also, please know that we all struggle, and sometimes the success stories you hear about have struggled even harder to get where they are,” she says.
She also reminds business owners to know their work and charge accordingly. “I see businesses go under because they are not clearing enough to cover their overhead with a forward sustaining profit margin. Don't allow anyone to undervalue what you do or talk you down it you aren't wanting to charge them anything less. Trust me, you'll thank yourself for it later.”
“The other advice that I've found useful is to make sure your thoughts are in a good mindset and that you're taking care of yourself. Successful people have a successful mindset and often have to push past upsets and setbacks. They can be part of the process and they aren't the end of you or your business!”
Chalea loves working for herself because she understands her own needs better than anyone and she can advocate for herself and what she needs. She also loves being able to see the positive impact her work has in the community.
Chalea loves to work with mamas and parents who value the work that goes into an heirloom-quality piece that's made just for them. “They may not even know quite what they want yet and may be curious and want to explore their options and I can help them along that journey,” she says.
She also loves to work with women who are in related businesses where it makes sense to collaborate and help lift each other up. “Life coaches, inspirational gurus, and other mother business owners are often friends I haven't met yet, that I would love to get to know more. Many of my pieces carry affirmations and are a great aid for those seeking to remind themselves of how much they are loved,” she explains.
One of her biggest accomplishments was listening to her gut and allowing her unique personality to shine. “I was doing a disservice to myself by not acknowledging the real me as I felt I had to always put a strictly business persona forward,” she says. Although she was scared at first, she’s been working on changing her inner voice. “I am cultivating amazing friendships -- and I have people seeking out my work! It feels good to know that the work I create with my hands is wanted and is being cherished by others. I am changing my life by being true to myself and showing my daughters that you can be successful in living your dreams,” she explains.
Chalea says she loves being a MOB because of the community of friends, and friends she hasn’t met yet, who understand the juggle of being mom and trying to earn a living. “They have your back and they lift you up. That is so priceless! It gives us a common banner to know that we belong to something amazing and can give us common ground out in the community to say hi and form new relationships, where we may have been too shy to in the past,” she explains.
You can find Chalea online at: