Maayan Zilberman’s Sweet Art
WORDS BY: SARA CRAVATTS | PHOTOS BY: JON PACKLES | SELECT PHOTOS COURTESY OF MAAYAN ZILBERMAN
Not all candies are jawbreakers and gummy bears. There is another kind of confectioner out there. She uses her long, cherry-red nails to craft treats in the shape of glittering crystals, sexy handcuffs, wads of translucent cash, slick lips, and mixtapes. Her name is Maayan Zilberman and her company is Sweet Saba—a line of trinkets that are as delicious as they are pretty.
Sweet Saba’s overlapping of the fashion, art, and food worlds are a product of Maayan’s colorful history. She once designed for lingerie giant, Frederick’s of Hollywood, and even co-founded her own lingerie brand, The Lake & The Stars. However, it was after work when she challenged conventional creative entrepreneurship to eventually found Sweet Saba—to fuse her education in sculpting and experience in fashion fused together with what she’d learned as a child from her Saba (Hebrew for grandfather) in the kitchen in her native Israel.
After posting a few sculptures on social media, people began responding. “I started getting messages about special orders, and in the course of a few months, grew it into a sustainable business with a retail location,” Maayan explains.
Read the rest of our chat with her about creativity, business, and of course, candy.
Was the switch from fashion to candy a difficult one?
When I started designing lingerie, I didn’t know anything. I had to learn from scratch, and pick apart the puzzle with every challenge possible ahead of me. Now, all these years later, learning how to work with candy. We have so many more resources at our fingertips. Youtube, Google, you name it. Anything I don’t know how to do, I just do some research or contact people online about learning a new skill, and then after that it’s up to me to practice and get good at it.
Would you ever consider transitioning into a more permanent sculptural medium?
I started out in art school in NYC, majoring in sculpture. I was always interested in materials that when transformed or combined with other elements would either erode or disappear. I got into fashion after I graduated, and it’s only now (almost two decades later) that I’m circling back to this exploration of materiality.
Where did the inspiration for Sweet Saba come from?
It’s named after my Saba, which is Hebrew for grandfather. We used to make food experiments in the kitchen together when I was little. He taught me how to make yogurt, and we’d put everything in the fridge into it, to see if it was still edible. Sweet Saba is about fantasy, humor, and sophistication.
What is your favorite part of the candy-making process?
Coming up with a new way to use the medium. The element of discovery is the best part of making art. I create original sculpted pieces by hand, then I make silicone, food-safe molds off those. I work with a flavorist to customize flavors for both my collections and made-to-order projects, it’s a wonderful process that’s integral to the final product.
What does a normal day at Sweet Saba look like for you?
Each day I spend the first few hours at the studio sketching and listening to my podcasts. I do production work and manage new projects for the majority of the day, mixed in with showroom appointments and photo shoots. The work I do is great on film, so we do a lot of pictures and video in here.
What do you see in the future for Sweet Saba? And for yourself as an artist?
We’re planning to open more retail locations in the coming year, and co-branded multimedia, including a kitchen supplies collaboration, makeup, and a salon concept. I’ve also recently opened up my Lingerie Archive, which is a collection of samples from each of my collections (The Lake & Stars, Fredericks of Hollywood, and others).