It started with insufficient grades for art school and continued with a bit of a fluke. Today, Nathalie Wåhlin’s feminist smith business is booming, with an employee helping her run the shop and a growing army of allies wearing her weapons of solidatory throughout Sweden and beyond.
Being diagnosed with asthma might not exactly sound like winning the jackpot, but if you are a goldsmith by trade and your job polishing jewellery turns out to be making you sick, it can actually be just the thing that makes magic happen. At least for Nathalie Wåhlin, now better known as Feministsmeden, or the feminist smith, it was. “The name had been obvious from the day a friend asked me if I could make her a Venus symbol earring in gold – I was a feminist and I was a smith,” says Wåhlin. “But when I got signed off sick, I was fired – and then I started researching it and realised all the feminist jewellery out there was quite tacky: it was big, mostly plastic, almost vulgar. Nothing in real metal. So I started making more delicate pieces in silver and gold, selling them on Etsy, and things immediately took off.”
Now based in a workshop boutique just a stone’s throw from Stockholm’s central station, Wåhlin has a sustainable approach to her craft, creating everything by hand from recycled silver and gold. “I get to hear the most amazing stories. It’s everything from a seven-year-old who’s saved up their pocket money to be able to buy the biggest Venus symbol, to retired women who know exactly what they want or perhaps are buying gifts for all their grandchildren,” she says. “I try to equip people with weapons – but kind weapons 3*. When someone opens a Christmas gift of a feminist piece of jewellery, it brings that conversation into the homes of people. And when we walk around wearing the Venus symbol, it shows how many allies we have – that together, we are strong.”
Written by Linnea Dunne for Scan Magazine