Years ago we took a tour of the CHART metalworks studio in Portland, ME. These timeless nautical map accessories are still a must-have for your coastal celebration! From groomsmen cuff links to custom belt buckles and studs, these pieces are so unique because they allow you to wear your story. Take a trip down memory lane and check out our interview with the founders Charlotte Leavitt and John Guptil.

CHART metal works belt buckle<br><a href=http://www.emilieinc.com target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: Tell us a bit about you and your company including how and when you got started?

CHART: I started making jewelry in 2002 mostly as a hobby and doing a few home shows etc., to support what my friends described as my “bead addiction.” I was doing more of an antique or vintage look using oxidized sterling silver, pearls and other gems and beads. By 2006 I began thinking about developing a business around my creative outlet and I became concerned that my jewelry was not creative enough for the market. I closed up my studio and sought inspiration. A long time sailor, I was surrounded by nautical charts in my home and one day the idea of embedding nautical charts in resin surfaced. By 2008 I launched CHART metalworks full time and John soon joined to assist with growing the business. Today we have over 70 wholesale accounts nationally and handle about 30 custom orders a week through our website and calls.

L&L: Is the name CHART metalworks intentional or a fortunate coincidence that your first name is Charlotte and your product is charts?

CHART: I never really intended it to to stand for my name, a lot of people call me “Char” so I’m constantly asked if the name stands for “Char” and then the “art” aspect, CHAR making ART, etc… but I was just thinking CHART as in nautical charts. It’s really just a fortunate coincidence.

 

CHART metalworks<br><a href=

L&L: You and your partner John live and work in Portland, just a short walk from your home to your shop, and speak openly about being inspired by the busy wharf that surrounds you. Have you always lived in Maine? What do you love most about this area?

CHART: I have lived here most of my life. I moved to Hampden when I was four and was raised there. I’ve been in Portland now for over twenty years. John still teases me that doesn’t make me a true “Mainer.” He was born in Portland and raised in the Damariscotta area. His grandfather still lives on Guptill Lane after their last name in Owls Head in the home he converted from a chicken coup after World War II, that may make him a more extreme “Mainer,” but if you factor for age difference, I’ve actually been here longer.

We love the quality of life here in Portland, the booming creative economy and all the support the community provides to small business development and growth.

L&L: Where do you get your charts?

CHART: I used to get my charts from Chase Leavitt down on the wharf; they would let me take discontinued charts that could no longer be used for safety reasons. Now we find our charts all over. For our recycled chart collection we’ll buy from private sellers we find on Craigslist or eBay or acquire from friends, family and other resources who need help cleaning out storage or a basement. For our updated custom chart pieces we use the charting agencies NOAA for most of the United States, IMRAY for the Caribbean and NIMA for the Mediterranean to name a few.

CHART metalworks<br><a href=

L&L: What is your hottest seller? Do most of your sales come from wholesale or custom orders? Can you explain the difference?

CHART: Our hottest sellers would be the sterling silver necklaces on ball chain for the women, both the extra small (dime size) and small (quarter size) do really well. They would be closely followed by the sterling silver small drop earrings. For the men, the key ring and belt buckle, both in bronze, has been very popular and the cuff links are taking off this year. Our small bronze pendant on leather Greek cord has been doing really well too and is a great unisex piece.

It’s hard to say where the majority of our sales come from, last year we did more wholesale until of course the holidays. This year we’re a bit ahead with custom orders right now, but the bulk of our wholesale accounts are just getting started on their selling season.

Essentially for our wholesale accounts, retail stores, gift shops, galleries, etc., we develop a custom line featuring 3-5 points of interest or locations unique the retailer’s area. For example, for a Portland retailer we would feature Portland Head Light, The Portland Peninsula, Casco Bay, Peaks Island and Great Diamond in the line. We work with the retailer to establish the points of interest.

Custom orders are direct orders from customers either through our website or calls to the studio. With these orders our customers actually customize their own pieces, picking the location to be displayed and approving the artwork before we make the piece. We work with them zooming in and out and centering on specific points to get the exact location they want displayed on the chart. Given the customization aspect, the price point for a custom order is slightly higher than what one would pay for our pieces in store.

CHART metalworks process<br><a href=http://www.emilieinc.com target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: Your product is perfect for brides and grooms shopping for unique wedding gifts for each other or their bridal party that reflect quality local art and a personal touch. Can you share a few examples of your best selling wedding-related products?

CHART: Definitely the top selling item for groom and groomsmen right now are the cuff links available in sterling silver or bronze. We also sell tie tacks, lapel pins and soon our tux studs will be available to make for a really special set. The bride and bridesmaids will typically go with a necklace selection, but really the earrings and bracelets would look great, too.

Soon we’ll be launching some other home gifts items like wine charms and wine stoppers that we think will be great wedding gifts as well.

CHART metalworks studio<br><a href=http://www.emilieinc.com target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

CHART metalworks products<br><a href=http://www.emilieinc.com target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: Thank you for sharing a bit of insight with us about CHART metalworks. If folks want to get in touch with you to place an order or see your product, what is the easiest way for them to do so? How long does a typical order take?

CHART: We handle the bulk of our customer orders through the website, www.chartmetalworks.com. We have wonderful pictures online and an easy to follow ordering process: pick your piece, describe your location, approve your proof and then we’ll complete and it ships in about two weeks.

Today you can visit the studio at 1 Pleasant St., Ste. 2E, or call #(207) 221-6807.

 

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