Posted 11th July 2018
Barely two years old, WNDRLND, the brainchild of Gillian Murray now stocks a carefully curated collection of over forty talented jewellery designers. We caught up for a peek ‘through the looking glass’ at the brand and founder herself.
Tell us how WNDRLND came about and the inspiration behind the brand name
I guess WNDRLND initially came about from my love of jewellery and how each piece tells a story with the power to change how you feel. Growing up, I was spoiled with the pleasure of playing with my Gran’s ‘treasure chest’ (her jewellery drawer) which was filled to the brim with both unusual and statement pieces of costume and fine jewellery. Each piece was treated as an art form, and even used to decorate the house. While playing dress up there would be no rules of how a style should be worn, for example rings could be threaded on a necklace and worn as a tiara if I desired! I would be told stories of where the jewellery came from and what fabulous events they were worn to. I remember thinking how jewellery had the power to make someone feel special. From the formative years of playing “dressing up”, jewellery gradually evolved into a full-time way of life. My infatuation initially fueled a career as a jewellery and accessories buyer, giving me the opportunity to travel the world discovering unique, aspirational and talented designers. As a result, my eclectic personal collection of jewellery grew. Often strangers would approach me in the streets to comment on the statement piece I happened to be wearing at the time. Trying to explain where the jewellery was from, and that the designers were based in faraway locations such as New York, Hong Kong and India (although many of my favourites are home grown talent), I soon recognised the love for hidden gems was out there, everywhere. This became my inspiration to create a one-stop shop where all of these unique designers from all over the globe could be united, within an online community where a love and passion for jewellery could be shared.
The inspiration for the brand name came from my love of Alice in Wonderland. By stepping through the WNDRLND looking glass, you are taken to another world where the unexpected is a visual feast for the eyes. Wonderland (or WNDRLND) as described in the dictionary is ‘A land or place of wonderful things’ and this is exactly what you will have when you step inside the WNDRLND looking glass.
What have been the biggest challenges and the biggest successes of the past couple of years since you launched WNDRLND?
Every day is a challenge, sometimes an exciting challenge and sometimes not so! Coming from a creative background, one of the main curveballs was, and still is, realising I actually know very little about the minefield that is a website! For example, the snowball effect changing one piece of the website has on other parts of the site. So much so that on the day of launch, I deleted one piece of trivia or so I thought and I really shouldn’t have, causing the site to crash, yes, on the day of launch! WNDRLND was down for four hours while the developer magicians cleaned up my mess. A timely and costly mistake for just hitting the delete button once!
The biggest successes have to be meeting some of the most unique, wonderful and talented designers and having the honour of showcasing their mesmerising collections on WNDRLND. That and when we had our first international sale, although this was a slightly stressful experience in itself! The earrings purchased were bound for Germany for a birthday gift. A combination of being stuck in customs along with the German postal office shutting for a week’s national holiday meant a delay in the customer receiving the treasure. Many emails to various persons later, and one large sigh, panic over as the earrings arrived to the customer in the nick of time, a day before the birthday of the gift receiver!
Which WNDRLND character are you?
This question did make me laugh! I always ask it of designers who participate in the ‘Meet the Treasure Maker’ blog series and I always love the various answers. But when the tables are turned, I had to really think about it!
I think it would have to be Alice – she doesn’t fit a conventional stereotype, she looks like butter wouldn’t melt but has a curious side that gets her into and out of adventures. She’s intelligent with a vivid and playful imagination, brave and what draws me to her the most is her humour.
My favourite line by Alice has to be when the Mad Hatter asks “Have I gone mad?” and Alice replies, “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are” – so true!
Describe your brand in 3 words
Alluring, contemporary, treasure trove (ok the last one is two words, but you get the idea!)
Bracelets, necklaces, earrings or rings – which would you choose?
This is such a hard question. I love them all and it really depends on my mood as to what I would choose. Although one slight caveat, if this question is what would I choose to wear, I would have to rule out earrings. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE earrings, especially the asymmetric, mismatch hooped variety, however I am sad to say that even working in the jewellery industry, I have managed to reach this ripe old age without having my ears pierced! A long, long story behind that one that I’ll have to save for another time!
What is your current bestseller?
Earrings – I think this is due to a mix of being on trend, and the fact you don’t need to worry about fit, like you would rings, so also great for gifting. Interestingly though, the most viewed style is silver rings.
What is your personal jewellery style? How do you like to wear your favourite pieces?
One thing I can say my jewellery style is not, is minimal. I’d love to say I have a chic minimal look, however my jewellery style reflects my jewellery journey or story – it is eclectic and eye catching with no rules attached! I like to wear my favourite pieces anytime of the day or evening, layered or by themselves, organic, geomeric, mixing metals, textures and gemstones, fine jewellery with costume, vintage worn with contemporary, although currently I am drawn to chunky pieces with soul, à la Mr. T style. Saying all that, it all really depends on my mood, I feel jewellery is like dressing up or wearing a mask, you become a different character, and every time I wear a piece from my treasure box it has personality and a story attached. I love that jewellery has such flexibility and transcends trends and one thing’s for sure – I never fall out of love with the jewellery I am fortunate to have acquired.
If you could design a piece of jewellery for anyone, who would that be and what would you design?
Cleopatra, now she is the queen (excuse the pun) of statement jewellery. In my imagination, she would require a killer design like for a Met Ball invite. For such a powerful and captivating woman, I would have to design a kinetic head piece!
Describe yourself in 3 words
Creative, inquisitive, tenacious (if there was a fourth word it would have to be a chatterbox!)
How do you recharge your batteries?
I love to paint or fill my visual diary with memories. Some people write in theirs, I create sketch books filled with everything ranging from ticket stubs to old membership cards to badges – basically anything that evokes a memory of that event. Or just while I’m alone, I love to dance. I find these activities relax me and time just seems to disappear.
What are you addicted to buying?
JEWELLERY, honestly, it’s an addiction (oh and art supplies!)
What do you never travel without?
Apart from my phone and my eyelash curlers, I never leave without my mini jewellery case, which I bought in Italy when I was 15, filled with my chosen holiday jewellery pieces. It’s like a jewellery Tardis the amount that can fit in it! Unfortunately, some of my more avant-garde statement pieces don’t fit but I guess they’re not really for travelling anyway!
And finally…if you weren’t curating jewellery designers, what would you be doing?
I’d be a portrait painter. And a sculpture-maker on the side!