Posted January 2017
Can jewellery be a form of sculpture or can sculpture be a form of jewellery? This is the main idea that Zolia Jewellery flirts with. Wearable pieces of sculpture with an eccentric and quirky essence, are turned into unconventional pieces of jewellery. Fluid, futuristic curves in harmony with angles create the unique signature. They make the wearer feel special and appreciate them as handmade objects and as little pieces of art, small enough to be carried and underline her personality. Zolia Jewellery was founded in 2014, by Eleni Zolia. It is based in Birmingham Jewellery Quarter and all the pieces are made in the UK.
We managed to steal Eleni away from creating her jewellery creating wonderland which I must be such a magical fantasy filled place judging from the desirable works of body art that are produced there.
1. So tell us how did Zolia Jewellery all began?
That’s a rather long story. Since I was teenager I was creative. While I studied a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry (that’s another long story…!), I got vocational training in jewellery making and design. I learned to work with precious metals and traditional silversmithing techniques. During my Master’s in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products in Birmingham School of Jewellery I was encouraged to work with various materials and push the boundaries of conventional jewellery. I created pieces that functioned as pieces of sculpture out of light clay and fiberglass, that could, also, be worn on the body and I came to see jewellery as sculpture.
I graduated when the UK was still recovering from the recession and the jewellery sector was going through some rough patches. After doing a couple of irrelevant jobs for a while and gaining experience in sales and running a business from the admin point of view, I decided that creativity is the only way for me and it was time to return to my jewellery, despite the fact that the rough patches in the sector are not entirely over. I combined my deep love for precious metals with my view of jewellery as pieces of art and sculpture. And that was how Zolia Jewellery began!
“Don’t compromise. Make the jewellery exactly how you love them to be. If you compromise to what seems more commercial, it shows.” That’s the advice I was given by an old gentleman that ran a jewellery shop – he is retired now. I have to say it is a pretty hard advice to follow when you have practicalities thrown along the way. However, the key-words of the advice are: “what seems more commercial”. Everything can be a commercial success as long as it is promoted and pushed with persistence and you can only do that with the products/pieces that you love and you believe in.
3. What was the lowest point and highest point when launching?
The lowest point when launching has always to do with trying to find out which are the best and most cost-effective moves to make in order to promote the brand and reach the right audience. When you are new in the sector, you don’t know the ropes. You get advice here and there, you research and everything, but at the end of the day, it is up to the maker to make the decisions and for sure some of them are not going to be that good, that’s a fact. What matters, though, is to learn from the mistakes.
On the other hand, the highest point is the reception you get from the people, given that it is warm and enthusiastic. I have to say that I was one of the lucky ones and I did. I was even shortlisted as New Designer of the Year 2016 within the first six months of launching. My work is part of myself, I am more than happy, of course, when the world accepts and likes it.
4. What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from almost everything, natural elements, man-made objects and, of course, my own imagination. I reform them into fluid, sculptural jewellery pieces always bearing in mind the current trends. For every collection I design I, also, put a new goal, like to increase the ability of my pieces to be worn on a daily basis, add colours or combine different materials. Many new ideas derive from pushing myself to a specific direction.
5. Do you ever struggle to stay inspired?
Staying inspired is the only thing I never struggle. Even when I have to follow an exact theme that is not chosen by me, like the subject of a competition, I don’t find the process that difficult. The moment my pencil touches the paper, I come up with ideas.
6. How would you describe the Zolia Jewellery customer?
The woman that wears Zolia Jewellery appreciates the unique style, the arts and the great craftsmanship. She is confident, cultured and stylish. She seeks individuality and wants to wear high quality accessories and statement pieces of jewellery with a personality as strong as hers.
7. Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs?
Like someone famous? I can’t really state one person in particular. My pieces can be worn by all types of people from a rock or pop star to a business lady who doesn’t shy away from catching the attention. Some pieces may appeal more the first wearer and some other ones more to the latter but I think most of them can fit perfectly to both. Probably, the type of persons I would love more to see wearing my pieces are women that are involved with museums or design galleries. They work with masterpieces and they appreciate my work? I would be honoured!
8. What drew you to showcase your treasure on WNDRLND?
I ran a quite fresh business and WNDRLND is, also, a fresh platform for jewellery. I always believe that the biggest opportunities come from “the new kids on the block”, as they are the ones that push the limits and try innovative things and that’s why I showcase on WNDRLND. In addition to that, WNDRLND is indeed a community of designers and there is a great collaborative environment. Last but not least, I met the founder of WNDRLND during IJL 2016 and I can safely say that she is a focused, reliable professional that knows what she is doing, while at the same time she is kind-hearted and honest. For sure, she is the kind of person I want to collaborate with.
9. Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
I see Zolia Jewellery with a great variety of pieces from silver to gold stock listed in a great number of shops in the UK and Europe, while at the same time having developed solid retail client base. Also, a couple of months ago, I opened a shop in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. So the plan is to have it established as a certain place to visit for everyone looking for a unique piece of jewellery in Birmingham.
Last but not least, the biggest plan/dream is for Zolia Jewellery to cross the pond and enter the American market during the next 5 years. I have a good feeling that a move like this has the potential to be very fruitful, but, of course, US can be chaotic and good strategy and guidance is more than essential.
WNDRLND would like to thank Eleni for not only a small insight into her jewellery world but also the kind words said about WNDNLD – smiling like the cat that got the cream! ?. To see the full collection from Eleni click HERE