What are your favourite things?
Drinking chai tea, op-shopping, gardening and my rabbit. Oh and cooking....I love cooking!
What inspires you?
Hmmm...people, places, things, nature....my mind never switches off with the constant churning of new ideas and thoughts. Anything and everything inspires me. From a pebble on the beach to a vintage piece of jewellery to watching fellow humans do amazing things and then thinking, if they can do that, then I can do this!
We were immediately drawn to your jewellery at NZFW. It has a New Zealand flavour while still looking classic. How do you know when a piece of jewellery 'works'?
I don't really, I have an image in my head of what I want to create. Maybe do a small sketch and away I go. Hoping that people will like my designs as much as I do. Also jade/greenstone is something that most New Zealanders can relate to so a lot of people are attracted to it, and seeing it 'modernised' in a way is refreshing for a lot of people.
Tell us a bit about when you went down to the South Island to immerse yourself in stone carving culture.
Well, it's definitely a whole 'nother world down there. I never knew there were so many different types of NZ jade to begin with!! I realised I knew very little about our taonga and where it comes from. It was an interesting journey that's for sure. I met a lot of lovely, different people whose whole lives are surrounded by jade. I spent endless days walking along the beach searching for the washed up, ocean tumbled pieces of jade. That was my favourite part. I met my wonderful partner there who was studying jade carving at the time so that was an interesting turn of events. As I had only planned to stay there for 3 weeks, and ended up staying for 2 years. Hah, that's what the coast does to you...time becomes worthless and days are spent slow in no rush at all. It's pretty nice.
We love how you are trying to make your business completely ethical and sustainable. How big of a challenge is this?
Yes this is proving to be a bigger and bigger challenge then I first imagined. There are so many small things that I want to change as well as the obvious big ones such as recycling silver and recycled materials where possible. It's definitely going to take me a few years to get to a point where I am somewhat happy with where I am at sustainably and ethically. Ethically, I should be ok...being all New Zealand stones and cutting and carving them in our studio at home ensures there is no forced or child labour and no bad working conditions, also with that goes no chemicals used to extract the stones so no contamination to water and wildlife. But metal is the harder one. It will take me a few years to work up to being 100% recycled silver and I'm not sure whether I could ever say properly that I use 100% recycled. Even down to my packaging and business cards, it all needs to be recyclable, reusable and environmentally friendly for me to be happy with it. It's going to be a slow, long process but it will be worth it. My ultimate goal is to have an open studio where customers can come in purchase and have a look around, with jewellery made from NZ stones and those not of New Zealand would be re-used from old vintage jewellery that I've found in op-shops and antique stores. There's so much out there. So many second hand diamonds, rubies, sapphires just waiting to be re-vamped into something new. That's my goal. Op-shopping for jewellery to melt down and make new pretties out of...oh yeah! I could go on and on on this topic!!
What makes you get up in the morning?
Hah! I'm not the best morning person so...a lot of procrastination and a cup of green tea...oh and the fact that I am the only one that is going to fill the orders I have and make my money. No-one else can do that for me.
Are you a feminist?
I personally find this word to be quite a strong and almost scary word these days, only because I've found a lot of people cringe at the word when it is said...not because they aren't feminists or don't agree with it, merely because there are or have been some very strong feminists or feminism movements out there who almost put men down and that isn't what feminism is about. I guess I am a feminist. I believe in gender equality and women's rights. We are lucky we live an a modern western society where we as women can stand up for what we believe in and men also do the same. Where would we be without Kate Sheppard?!
Don't forget to check out Marama Jewellery to see some exquisite handmade pieces.