Interview with Sam Parlato


Samantha Parlato is the owner and designer of Salt Water Designs, handcrafted jewelry with an oceanic vibe.

What inspired you to start Salt Water Designs?

The beach has held a place in my heart for as long as I can remember. It’s not just the feeling of the sand, the sound of the waves crashing, or the way the air feels different there than it does anywhere else; it’s all of these things together, and the way the beach can put my mind and soul at ease. I’ve taken every beach trip as an opportunity to explore and see what kind of treasures I can find. I’ve always been fascinated by what the ocean brings up onto shore, especially seashells. Seashells connect us to the ocean, and to water energy. Water is the element that represents our emotions. By being in contact with seashells, we open and activate our intuition and sensitivity. This gives us the ability to express our imagination, and our creativity. When we are able to express and share our emotions and ideas, we begin to heal ourselves and have a greater impact on others and the healing of the planetary family. With this inspiration in mind, Salt Water Designs was born.

When you create, where do you envision your creations?

Although my inspiration and materials come from the beach, I don’t only envision my creations in a beach setting. I like to think that the jewelry I create can be worn anywhere, by all kinds of people, at any time of the year. A lot of the time, I am drawn to broken seashells or stones, so it may be a little less obvious as to what the material may be when someone wears one of my pieces—it doesn’t only have to be beach appropriate.

Can you tell us about your process? From inspiration to completion how does a piece come together?

Every day consists of looking for inspiration, whether it be on pinterest or intagram, in magazines, in stores, out in whatever my surroudings might be, etc. I’m always taking note of materials and color palettes that spark my imagination. When it comes to making a particular piece, sometimes it’s a custom commission for someone, but often I’m just going with the flow of where my mind takes my hands. I find it better to not so much plan it out, and just let my pieces come together. Each and every piece is one of a kind.

How do you decide which materials to use? How does that play a part into your creative process?

Sometimes when I go for a stroll on the beach, I get fixated on a particular shell or stone I may find. I prefer more odd pieces, like broken or eroded seashells. I find them to be more intriguing and unique. I start to envision the way I would wrap it with wire, or what other kinds of beads or stones may go with it. However, I find that no matter what goes on in my head during this process, I never really know until I start to physically put the materials together, and really see how they compliment one another.

Aside from the beach, I also go hunting at flea markets for materials to repurpose. I look for chains or jewelry I can break apart for beads. I like the idea of repurposing something that may be broken, or that somebody may not want anymore, rather than buying something new. It’s nice to reuse things and give something new life.

Do you have a mantra or ritual that helps your creative process?

Where I choose to create plays a crucial role in my process. I feel most inspired during the daytime, surrounded by natural light, in an open space. Often times I’ll take all of my supplies with me outside, or to the beach. If I’m not feeling inspired, then I don’t create.

What are some important lessons or learnings you would like to share with those reading this?

I had a thought the other day. I was in Newport, Rhode Island with a friend, walking down a path at Salve Regina University. It was right along the water, and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. My friend went down towards the water, and I was up a bit higher on the hill. I sat and watched the waves crashing for a while—the colors, how they moved, the sounds being made. For the first time I really thought how incredible it was how I could be absolutely terrified of something, yet be so in love with it at the same time. The ocean has always scared me, being in the water, getting tossed around by waves—the feeling of having no control, and not knowing which way is up—yet somehow, I am so drawn to the ocean and always have been. I think this feeling, on a deeper level, can translate very well for creative people in the sense that we should always be taking risks with our work. Try something new. I know it may be difficult sometimes to go from wanting to do it, to actually doing, but even though it may scare us, it may work out beautifully in the end.

Instagram: @saltwaterdesignsny
Salt Water Designs Board:


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