I was fortunate enough to secure an interview with the inspiring Derek Amato and the very talented Brenda Neckvatal of BGK Designs. Two people who thrive on creativity and have such inspirational lives.
I shared a very informative video about Derek Amato on Wednesday, giving you an insight into how he came to be the man he is today. I find his journey and sheer positivity very humbling as well as motivational and inspiring. Brenda and Derek make a fantastic team, the collaboration between both creatives looks to be an exciting one. With Brenda’s own jewellery line – BGK Designs – a wealth of unique pieces of jewellery (available to buy online) and the collaboration with Derek Amato on “Know Hope, Know Love”.
What has been the biggest ‘pinch-yourself’ moment for your business’ to date?
B: I think the biggest pinch me moment really involved watching people respond when they see one of the jewellery pieces. It’s really interesting that you watch and consistently gravitate towards something. And then they put it down and come back to it again, and I walk up to them and say, “is it talking to you then?” and they reply with, “yeah, Yeah it is talking to me” so not only does it talk to me, but the jewellery also calls out and talks to the people who see it.
D: Gosh, you know, I suppose my accident was one of those pinch myself moments when I woke up and realised I could play instruments. But I have those kind of pinch me moments every day. I work with so many different people and I guess to me, they are kind of all of those moments because I get to meet and work with all of these gifted children or savants or children with autism and I get those experiences daily, or weekly. The primary moment that I had was obviously waking up from an accident and realising that I was musically gifted.
D: I suppose one of my favourite qualities of Brenda in reference to business – we could look at this business wise or personal wise – if I put those both together I would say, I had finally found a person who could actually keep up with me in terms of the creative side and continual thought process is never ending. Before I had met Brenda I had spoken to a handful of designers, I had interviewed a few people and I guess the fact that she was articulate with creative energy was extremely appealing to me and I felt like I had finally met someone who I could work with on an even playing field. As well her being an amazing human being.
B: When I first started working with Derek, I quickly realised that I didn’t know what I had in a business partner. One of the things I really appreciate about Derek, is the fact that he has mass energy but he’s not chaotic, – I’m very linear, but creative and if we sit down and say ‘we gotta get something done’ then we both come back to the table and it’s done. I don’t have to chase him; he doesn’t have to chase me so I have a strong appreciation for that fact. Also there’s that synergy that exists between the two of us and I get going and then that makes me feel good because it makes me feel like I’m contributing. The biggest thing is the fact that unexpectedly I learned so much in such a short period of time. I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am and I don’t tell him enough.
Can you give our readers a brief insight to your amazing story & how this has influenced your life?
D: After diving into a swimming pool on October 27, 2006, I was diagnosed with a rare condition referred to as “acquired musical savant syndrome”, or “sudden musical genius.” Sharing my testimony with the world became a vehicle that would allow me to share not only my musical work to a global audience, but to also share my compassion for the charity organizations that I personally support, not to mention the many different projects I’m currently working on with the homeless, youth at risk, cancer, and traumatic brain injury programs.
You have had a very unique and remarkable life so far, how did the jewellery range come about?
D: A few years back I was working on the streets with the needy, mentally I’ll, drug addicts, etc. I began capturing many of these moments on camera and video. We started the “I am not voiceless” project 18 months ago to enhance awareness to some of these issues I find to be so important. I reached out to designer Brenda Neckvatal, and we began discussion on the design framework for a jewellery line that would promote the “know hope – know love” slogan that was designed for the I am not voiceless project.
What is the influence and meaning behind your jewellery tag line?
D: I wanted to brand the jewellery product with a slogan that everyone could relate to. If you know hope, then you must know love, which ended up being coined “know hope – know love.” Sharing hope and love has been the primary focus of this project, and it seems to be working, as people are wearing the product, sharing the message, and to me, it’s solid proof that people will join in on such a needed voice. It’s been a dream of mine to give everyone a voice, as I believe every soul has something to share.
B: I started making jewellery because I needed a creative outlet. I was in a position in life where my work and my view of the world was very linear. I was feeling confined and symmetrical with various lines of thought where I couldn’t see past the boarders of that linear vision I mentioned. Jewellery was something that was bubbling just below the surface and I felt very compelled to design and produce what I was seeing in my mind.
Where does your inspiration come from?
B: My inspiration comes from nature and from the pieces themselves. I never have a preconceived notion in my mind of what I want. I start with a centre piece or a group of pieces (components) and I let them guide me. I never see an end result, I only experience the journey. Being that my influence is dominant with nature, I let nature and the world’s energy guide me to creating something new, or finding the pieces that I use. I may be drawn to do something with a natural stone or a shell, but I let the creativity come out organically.
B: I have done commissions in the past, it’s not a huge part of my business. But, when I do them it usually involves a great story or collaborating with a customer who has an attachment to their findings, stones, or ideas. That’s a pretty special honour to help bring together a piece for someone and it has a special place in their heart.
If so, what has been your favourite project?
B: I really haven’t had a specific project as in piece, per se, but I have enjoyed working on the Know Hope – Know Love project with Derek Amato. I’ve met some incredible people, we have more fun that I think legally allowed, and it has been a tremendous learning experience.
Where would you like to see your brand in the next three years?
B: I would like to see BGK Designs be a known brand in the Mid Atlantic area and overseas in Europe. The most common feedback I get is how people connect to it, and along the way, it’s just another avenue for me to meet wonderful new friends. It just keeps getting better with every show and every interaction.
D: We are hoping for a national situation with a retailer. Until that happens, we will continue marketing the product through word of mouth.
If you could be anyone or anything for a day, who or what would you be?
B: I have two people…the first is Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue. I absolutely am fascinated with his ability to be an architect for what he wants and I love that he stays true to himself. The other would be Sandra Bullock – Another woman who seems to really be a strong character. But honestly, I’d rather continue existing as Brenda :).
D: I’d be me, as everyday is something beautiful and different. Although, if I could just spend one moment on stage with Sade! That would probably be my one request.
You can buy both Brenda’s Jewellery Creations and Derek’s Know Hope Know Love Collection exclusively at BGK Designs.