Katherine Barber has been making jewellery since the age of 12, at first for her friends and family members, selling her creations at school. After a degree in jewellery design, Katherine went on to create jewellery for other brands but was never satisfied by the mass produced quality. Katherine started her own jewellery brand to reinstate the love and passion she puts into her designs. She is also very passionate about ethically producing her jewellery, everything is made to order to ensure minimal wastage.
Tell us a little about your brand
Having accumulated over 14 years’ experience of designing for brands and suppliers I became disillusioned with mass production processes overseas. I felt detached from the pieces that I had so lovingly designed, which arrived in large volumes, sometimes broken and poorly made. I visited some of the factories used to make the product and that didn’t fill me with much confidence in the process either. For a while I thought about leaving the industry as I was so disheartened with the constant cycle of churning out sub-standard product. But I hadn’t lost that love of creating. So, I returned to my first love of using my hands to create things and in May 2018 I launched Katherine Barber Jewellery.
Slow Fashion is at the core of my business ethos. The jewellery is made in very small quantities or made to order so there is minimal waste. All Sterling Silver with Gold or Rose Gold Vermeil plating. Using quality materials was really important to me as the items are designed with longevity in mind. To be worn and loved for years to come. The pieces are all made by me in my Devon workshop. I take inspiration from around me. With a love of travel, the world has provided much inspiration. Architectural forms are a key source, the Enso collection developed from a window in Oslo!
Why have you chosen to partner with LDC?
It can be difficult for small brands, without huge marketing budgets, to not only be seen but for their message to be communicated to the buyer. I was drawn to LDC as they are huge supporters of small, creative businesses. Championing those who are trying to do good with their products and pushing the quality, handmade message to the buyer. I love LDC's slick branding and after attending the Anti Black Friday talk and concept store I knew they would be fantastic to work with. I feel really proud to be a part of their message.
What is your creative process for creating new pieces or collections?I have a sketch book full of snippets of things I've seen, random shapes from architecture, patterns, anything that sparks a thought. If I keep coming back to a shape I know there must be something about it .I take the shape then think about how it could become something wearable, whether it translates into a collection and multiple pieces. Then I use a design programme to give it finesse and work out proportions. Then it’s onto the bench to play around with the three dimensional object, see if the balance works, how long will it take me to make it. Sometimes things don't make it past this stage but it's the best part. Having the freedom to play around with the metal and make adjustments. Seeing a finished piece is a great feeling and knowing that the little shape in the sketch book was worth the work!
What is the ultimate goal for your brand?
To employ people. I really miss working as part of a team and the relationships you can build when you work alongside great people. I love the thought of providing a happy work environment where people feel valued and enjoy being there. Also, it wouldn't just be me making the tea either!
Was there a catalyst that sparked you to start your own label?
After working as a designer for brands and high street suppliers and seeing the mass production processes used to produce low value accessories I realised I was contributing to ecological and ethical problems that I was trying to avoid in my day to day life. It didn't sit well with me to be part of the cycle of pushing badly made product, produced in sub standard factories, by people who were not being paid fairly, into the world. Knowing that most of it was likely to end up in landfill. I still wanted to design and create but knew working in the fast fashion environment wasn't for me.
Come and check out Katherine's jewellery and get the chance to meet the designer. All at our Soho concept store from 13th - 26th February, 59 Greek Street, W1D 3DZ.