Category

Interviews

Category

Introducing the vibrant force behind Kashmir Swimwear, the effervescent Hannah Redgrave! With a zest for life and a passion for fashion, Hannah’s journey from dreamer to founder is as colourful as the swimwear she designs. Born from her love affair with Australia’s beach culture, Hannah’s story is one of inspiration, determination and a sprinkle of wanderlust.

Imagine a sun-kissed coastline, where the rhythm of the waves meets the beat of a pulsating city. It was here, amidst the laid-back vibes of Sydney, that Hannah found herself captivated by the allure of swimwear design. After five years soaking in the Aussie lifestyle, Hannah returned home with a burning desire to create her own fashion empire, with swimwear as her canvas.

Driven by her insatiable wanderlust and an unwavering love for fashion, Hannah embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. Drawing inspiration from her travels, nature’s wonders and the eclectic energy of urban landscapes, she set out to redefine luxury swimwear. And thus, Kashmir Swimwear was born – a manifestation of Hannah’s vibrant spirit and commitment to empowering women of all shapes, sizes and ages.

But Hannah’s journey is more than just about crafting beautiful swimwear; it’s a tale of resilience, creativity, and the unwavering belief in oneself. From sketching designs on sandy shores to making her debut at photoshoots in Sydney, every step of Hannah’s journey reflects her boundless passion for her craft.

Get ready to be inspired, uplifted and transported to a world where confidence reigns supreme and every woman is celebrated for her unique beauty…

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting Kashmir Swimwear and the journey from concept to creation?

Living in Australia for five years, where beach culture is a way of life, ignited my passion for designing swimwear. I’ve always dreamed of owning a fashion brand, particularly in swimwear, as I have a deep love for it and travel. Each holiday, I found myself packing numerous bikinis, and the thrill of shopping for swimwear and wearing it became a profound source of inspiration. This led to the creation of Kashmir Swimwear. I’ve developed two custom prints, initially inspired by an episode of “Sex in the City” featuring Carrie in the iconic Dior newspaper dress by John Galliano. These prints reflect my vibrant, bold, and colourful personality, which I aim to convey through my swimwear designs.

The name “Kashmir Swimwear” was one of my initial choices. Kashmir, a region in India known as “paradise on earth” for its beauty, embodies the essence of the brand. Our slogan, “Kashmir Swimwear – Where luxury swimwear meets paradise on earth,” suggests that wearing Kashmir is akin to experiencing paradise.

Your brand emphasises empowering women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. How do you ensure inclusivity and diversity in your designs and marketing?

At Kashmir Swimwear, inclusivity and diversity are fundamental values. We believe that every woman, regardless of her body shape, size, or age, deserves to feel confident and empowered in her swimwear. Currently offering sizes from XS to XL, we plan to expand our size range as the brand grows, ensuring every woman finds her perfect fit and feels fabulous in our swimwear.

Our marketing showcases models of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds to highlight inclusivity and representation. Focusing on body positivity and self-love, we celebrate women as they are, using uplifting messages to inspire them to embrace and appreciate their bodies.

Sustainability is at the core of Kashmir Swimwear’s ethos. Could you elaborate on the ethical practices and eco-friendly initiatives incorporated into your production process?

As a startup, our journey toward sustainability is ongoing. We prioritise a slow production process that values quality over quantity. Our manufacturers meticulously craft each swimwear piece with precision and care, reducing our environmental impact and ensuring high standards of quality and luxury.

Minimising waste is a top priority. We carefully plan production to avoid excess inventory and repurpose or recycle leftover fabric for garment sampling or other creative uses, thereby reducing our environmental footprint. Additionally, our packaging is designed to be both luxurious and environmentally friendly, using 100% biodegradable and recyclable materials.

Kashmir Swimwear aims to create timeless pieces that transcend trends. How do you balance incorporating current fashion elements while maintaining a classic aesthetic?

Balancing current fashion elements with a classic aesthetic is central to our design philosophy. We start with classic shapes, such as sleek bikinis and sophisticated cover-ups, ensuring our swimwear stands the test of time. By using high-quality materials and craftsmanship, we create pieces that not only look beautiful but also endure. Our goal is for women to cherish our classic pieces for years to come, maintaining their elegance and style season after season.

Your swimwear is described as luxurious and sophisticated. How do you ensure both comfort and style in your designs?

We carefully blend luxury and sophistication with comfort and style by using high-quality materials, ergonomic designs, and meticulous attention to detail. Our goal is for our customers to feel both chic and comfortable in every piece, allowing them to exude confidence and elegance effortlessly.

Can you walk us through the process of creating a new swimwear collection, from initial idea generation to the final product?

The creative process begins with inspiration drawn from various sources, such as nature, art, travel, and fashion trends. We then brainstorm ideas and create mood boards to solidify our vision. Next, we develop digital mock-ups, paying close attention to factors like shape, fabric selection, and functionality. After creating samples and refining designs, we move to final production, ensuring each piece meets our standards of quality and luxury. It’s a rewarding journey seeing our collections come to life.

In what ways does Kashmir Swimwear go beyond being just a fashion brand to embody a lifestyle?

Kashmir Swimwear represents not only quality swimwear but also a distinct lifestyle characterised by luxury, elegance, and self-expression. It’s about celebrating individuality and empowerment, inspiring women to embrace life boldly and confidently. By embodying these core values, we aim to make a positive impact on women’s lives beyond just fashion.

Personal empowerment is a key focus for your brand. How do you envision your swimwear empowering women who wear it?

We envision our swimwear as more than just garments; they’re tools for self-expression, confidence, and empowerment. By celebrating diversity, prioritising comfort, and encouraging self-expression, we empower women to embrace their authentic selves and live life with passion and purpose.

Are there any particular success stories or moments that stand out to you since starting Kashmir Swimwear?

The first photoshoot in Sydney was incredibly rewarding, seeing models wearing my brand. Additionally, my first sale, the high-waisted set Ophelia in Pearl, was a memorable moment. Packing up that order and ensuring it was perfect highlighted the journey from concept to creation.

Collaborations can be powerful in the fashion industry. Are there any dream collaborations you have in mind for the future?

Collaborating with icons like Victoria Beckham to create an exclusive swimwear collection would be a dream come true. I admire her impeccable style and drive, and I envision a collection that captivates audiences and leaves a lasting impression. Additionally, showcasing Kashmir Swimwear at Miami Swimweek alongside other renowned brands is another dream of mine, bringing our brand to a wider audience.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own sustainable fashion brands?

Believe in yourself and your vision, and overcome any limiting beliefs or imposter syndrome. Work hard, stay determined, and save diligently to invest in your business. While challenges will arise, remember that there’s room for everyone in the industry, and your unique perspective can make a significant impact. Pursue sustainability from the outset, carefully selecting suppliers and materials aligned with your brand values.

How do you source materials for your swimwear, and what factors do you consider when selecting suppliers?

Selecting suitable suppliers is challenging but crucial. After evaluating numerous options and reviewing samples, we choose suppliers that meet our standards and align with our brand values. When sourcing materials, we prioritise luxurious yet durable fabrics that withstand exposure to sun, sand, and sea. The entire process involves thorough review and consideration to ensure every detail aligns with our expectations.

Body positivity is an important aspect of your brand. How do you promote body acceptance and confidence through your marketing and messaging?

We prioritise body positivity in our marketing and messaging by celebrating the beauty of diversity and authenticity. Our imagery features models of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, showcasing the scale of female beauty across our channels. During photoshoots, we create a supportive environment where models embrace their unique beauty and imperfections, celebrating them as natural and beautiful features. Through our messaging, we aim to inspire women to love and embrace their bodies exactly as they are.

What do you envision for the future of Kashmir Swimwear, both in terms of growth and impact?

I envision expanding into resort wear and launching more styles and collections that embody our values of luxury and sophistication. Prioritising inclusivity, we aim to expand our size range and diversity of models, ensuring every woman feels fabulous in Kashmir Swimwear. We’ll continue learning and improving our operational methods to reduce our environmental footprint. Overall, I see the brand growing and making a positive impact by staying true to our values of empowerment, sustainability, and luxury.

Our readers love to travel. What destination is at the top of your bucket list?

The Amalfi Coast is at the top of my bucket list. The breathtaking views, rich culture, and amazing beaches make it an ideal destination, not to mention the delicious Italian cuisine.

What’s your go-to quote when lacking motivation?

“I am where I need to be on the journey right now” and “risking is better than regretting” are two quotes that inspire me to keep moving forward, especially during challenging times.

Lastly, what message would you like to convey to the readers of House of Coco Magazine about Kashmir Swimwear and its mission?

Kashmir Swimwear is more than just swimwear; it’s a lifestyle. We encourage women to celebrate their uniqueness and create cherished memories in our swimwear. Join us in redefining beauty, fostering confidence, and making a positive impact on women’s lives and the world.

Where can people follow you and find out more?

You can follow us on Instagram @kashmirswimwear, Facebook at Kashmir Swimwear, or visit our website www.kashmir-swimwear.com.

As we bid adieu to the captivating journey of Hannah and Kashmir Swimwear, we invite you to continue exploring the world of fashion, empowerment, and inspiration within the pages of House of Coco Magazine. Dive deeper into the stories of visionaries, trailblazers and dreamers who dare to defy convention and shape the world around them.

Step into the mesmerising world of Mano, a Hungarian painter whose artistic journey intertwines with a deep love for nature and a fascination with the human experience. Through the strokes of her brush, Mano captures the essence of our Earth’s breathtaking landscapes and the diverse tapestry of humanity that inhabits it.

Born from a passion for exploration and inspired by encounters with fascinating people and places around the globe, Mano’s artwork is a testament to the beauty and wonder of our world. From the tranquil shores of Lake Balaton to the bustling streets of Vienna and Rome, her paintings transport viewers to captivating scenes filled with light, colour and emotion.

Mano’s art speaks to the soul, inviting us to see the world through her eyes and discover the magic that lies within…

Your journey as an artist has taken you across the globe, from Hungary to Sweden, Israel, Italy, and beyond. How have these diverse cultural experiences influenced your artistic style and subject matter?

Art has always played a significant role in my life. Even in my childhood, I loved to draw, and later to paint. In my adult life, both my work and my husband’s have brought us to different countries, leading us to travel extensively with our family. Discovering new landscapes, meeting foreign people, and experiencing different cultures have been incredibly exciting for me. For an artist, this is more than just a challenge; it’s a rich tapestry of inspiration. 

These significant life experiences and cultural encounters have profoundly influenced me. I’ve endeavoured to capture the beauty of these varied experiences in my artworks. One memorable incident occurred when the Mayor of Sydney visited one of my solo exhibitions in Budapest. After viewing a painting depicting a Scandinavian port with its typical red houses, he exclaimed, “Oh, now I can almost smell the fresh Swedish air!” It was then that I resolved to evoke such sensory experiences in my audience through my paintings.

Your artworks are featured in prestigious international art books and have been exhibited in various countries. Could you share with us how these opportunities came about and what they mean to you as an artist?

My artistic journey began with my first solo exhibition during the prestigious Budapest Spring Festival in 1987. The event attracted notable public figures, including the second American astronaut to walk on the Moon. Following this success, I received an invitation from the Royal Academy of Arts in London to participate in a group exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

This recognition was a significant milestone in my artistic career. Subsequently, I have been fortunate to exhibit in renowned art capitals such as New York, Miami, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Tokyo, as well as numerous cities in Italy and Hungary. Additionally, my artworks have been featured in esteemed art books published internationally. These opportunities not only bring me immense joy and pride but also inspire me to continue creating. They serve as validation of my artistic endeavours and provide me with the motivation to explore new horizons.

Nature seems to play a significant role in your artwork, from capturing the lights dancing on water surfaces to admiring the beauty of landscapes. What draws you to portray nature in your paintings, and how do you hope to convey its essence to your audience?

The natural world is a source of endless wonder for me. Each season brings its own unique beauty, from the freshness of spring to the scorching heat of summer and the vibrant hues of autumn. I am captivated by the kaleidoscope of colors and the myriad scents that accompany these seasons. Through my paintings, I seek to preserve and share this beauty with future generations. 

Whether it’s the gentle ripples of water or the majestic vistas of landscapes, I aim to capture the essence of nature in its purest form.

As a painter who focuses on capturing the beauty of nature and interesting people, how do you approach the challenge of translating these experiences onto canvas? Could you walk us through your creative process?

I approach each painting with a sense of openness and receptivity to the world around me. When a particular moment or scene captivates my attention, I feel a deep urge to translate it onto canvas. I immerse myself in the image, allowing it to take shape within me before I begin to paint. While some artists may prefer to pre-draw their compositions, I find that my creativity flows most freely when I paint spontaneously, allowing the brush to move intuitively across the canvas. 

By channeling my emotions and impressions onto the canvas, I strive to create artworks that resonate with both myself and my audience.

Your paintings often depict special moments in history or contemporary life. What inspires you to explore these themes, and how do you infuse them with your unique artistic perspective?

From a young age, I have been deeply influenced by the works of historical painters such as Gyula Benczur. The monumental paintings depicting significant events from history left a lasting impression on me. In my own artistic journey, I am drawn to themes that reflect the rich tapestry of human experience. 

Whether it’s a historical event or a contemporary scene, I feel compelled to capture the essence of the moment. These scenes are often inspired by everyday life, reflecting the diversity and complexity of human existence. By infusing these themes with my unique artistic perspective, I hope to offer viewers a fresh interpretation of familiar subjects, prompting them to see the world through new eyes.

With numerous solo and group exhibitions under your belt, including shows in major art capitals like New York, Rome, and Vienna, what have been some of the highlights of your exhibition journey so far?

Exhibiting my artworks in prestigious locations around the world has been a deeply fulfilling experience. It has allowed me to share my art with a diverse audience and connect with fellow art enthusiasts from different cultures and backgrounds. One of the highlights of my exhibition journey has been the opportunity to engage with local communities and immerse myself in the vibrant art scenes of cities like New York, Rome, and Vienna. The exposure gained from these exhibitions has opened doors of recognition within the art world and provided me with invaluable opportunities for growth and collaboration.

You’ve received numerous prestigious international awards throughout your career. How do these accolades impact your artistic journey, and do they influence the direction of your work in any way?

Receiving prestigious international awards has been a tremendous honour and validation of my artistic endeavours. These accolades serve as a source of motivation, inspiring me to continually push the boundaries of my creativity. Moreover, they enhance my visibility within the art community, attracting the attention of galleries, collectors, and curators from around the world. While awards do not dictate the direction of my work, they reaffirm my commitment to artistic excellence and encourage me to explore new avenues of expression.

Your artworks have been featured in publications like Vanity Fair Magazine, exposing your work to a wider audience. How do you navigate the intersection between traditional gallery exhibitions and exposure through mainstream media?

I view traditional gallery exhibitions and exposure through mainstream media as complementary avenues for sharing my artwork with the world. Gallery exhibitions provide a curated environment for viewers to engage with my art on a personal level, while mainstream media platforms offer a broader reach and accessibility. By leveraging both channels, I am able to connect with diverse audiences and spark meaningful conversations about art and culture. Whether it’s through a gallery exhibition or a feature in a magazine like Vanity Fair, my goal remains the same: to inspire and engage viewers with my artistic vision.

Collaboration seems to be a recurring theme in your artistic career, from participating in group shows to working with galleries and publishers. Can you tell us about some memorable collaborations that have shaped your journey as an artist?

Collaboration has been instrumental in shaping my artistic journey, enriching my experience as an artist and expanding the reach of my work. One particularly memorable collaboration was my partnership with the Italian Foundation Effetto Arte, which provided me with invaluable opportunities to exhibit my art internationally. I have also had the privilege of collaborating with esteemed curators, galleries, and publishers from around the world, each contributing to my growth and development as an artist. These collaborations have not only expanded my artistic horizons but also deepened my connections within the global art community.

Your paintings often capture the essence of “interesting people.” Could you share some stories behind the individuals you’ve portrayed in your artwork and what draws you to depict them?

In my paintings, I strive to capture the essence of human experience, celebrating the diversity and complexity of individuals from all walks of life. One of my favourite artists, Salvador Dali, inspired me to explore the theme of human equality in my artwork “We are equal.” In this painting, I incorporated Dali’s portrait among various characters to convey the message that our true worth lies not in our outward appearance but in our inner values. I am also drawn to the expressive power of the human eye, which serves as a mirror of the soul. Whether it’s a striking gaze or a subtle expression, I seek to capture the unique qualities that make each individual captivating.

Your artworks span a wide range of themes and subjects, from historical figures to contemporary scenes. How do you maintain a cohesive artistic voice while exploring such diverse subject matter?

Drawing inspiration from the works of historical painters has provided me with a rich artistic tradition to connect with while exploring diverse subject matter. By infusing my paintings with my unique perspective and creative vision, I strive to maintain a cohesive artistic voice that resonates across different themes and subjects. Whether I’m depicting a historical event or a contemporary scene, my goal is to create artworks that reflect my personal interpretation of the world around me. In this way, I aim to bridge the gap between past and present, offering viewers a glimpse into both history and contemporary life through my art.

Travel seems to be a constant source of inspiration for you. How do you balance the excitement of exploring new places with the discipline required to focus on your artistic practice?

Traveling has always been a source of inspiration and enrichment for me, allowing me to discover new landscapes, cultures, and artistic influences. While the excitement of exploration can be exhilarating, I also recognise the importance of maintaining discipline in my artistic practice. By finding a balance between travel and focused studio time, I am able to channel the energy and inspiration gained from my experiences into my artwork. Whether I’m sketching on location or reflecting on my travels in the studio, each new adventure contributes to my growth as an artist.

Your paintings often evoke a sense of emotion and connection with the viewer. How do you approach the challenge of creating artworks that resonate with people on a deeper level?

I approach each painting with the intention of capturing the essence of a moment or emotion that resonates with me personally. By channeling my own experiences and emotions onto the canvas, I strive to create artworks that speak to universal themes and evoke a sense of connection with the viewer. Whether it’s a tranquil landscape or a poignant portrait, my goal is to elicit an emotional response that transcends language and cultural barriers. Through color, composition, and expression, I aim to create artworks that invite viewers to reflect, empathise, and find meaning in their own lives.

As an artist who has exhibited internationally, how do you perceive the global art scene evolving, and what role do you see yourself playing in its development?

The global art scene is constantly evolving, driven by shifting cultural trends, technological advancements, and social dynamics. As an artist who has exhibited internationally, I see myself playing a role in shaping this evolution through my creative vision and artistic expression. By engaging with diverse audiences and participating in global conversations about art and culture, I hope to contribute to a more inclusive and dynamic art world. Whether through exhibitions, collaborations, or community outreach, I aim to foster connections and inspire positive change through my artwork.

Your paintings have been described as capturing “the best moments” of nature and human experience. Could you share with us some of the most memorable moments that you’ve depicted in your artwork?

There have been many memorable moments that I’ve captured in my artwork, each reflecting the beauty and complexity of the natural world and human experience. One such moment occurred during an evening jog with my husband, where the play of light on the surrounding trees and lamp posts inspired me to paint the scene. 

Another memorable experience was witnessing the breathtaking beauty of Lake Balaton, its shimmering waters reflecting the towers of Tihany Abbey. I’ve also been deeply moved by encounters with people from different cultures, such as a young Ayamara girl and her sister boating on Lake Titicaca in Peru. These moments of connection and wonder continue to inspire me in my artistic journey.

Art has the power to evoke change and provoke thought. How do you hope your paintings contribute to conversations surrounding environmental preservation and the human experience?

Art has the power to transcend language and cultural barriers, making it a potent tool for raising awareness and inspiring positive change. Through my paintings, I hope to highlight the beauty and fragility of the natural world, prompting viewers to reflect on the importance of environmental preservation. Whether it’s a majestic landscape or a poignant portrayal of human connection, my goal is to evoke empathy and provoke thought about our relationship with the planet and each other. 

By sparking conversations and fostering a deeper appreciation for the world around us, I believe art can play a vital role in promoting environmental stewardship and social consciousness.

Your artist name, Mano, carries significance in your artistic identity. What inspired this choice, and how does it reflect your personal connection to your artwork?

The choice of my artist name, Mano, was inspired by my daughter’s suggestion when she was a young teenager. Drawing parallels to renowned artists like Monet and Manet, she proposed the name as a way to make my artwork more familiar and intimate. Since then, I have signed my paintings with this name, which has become an integral part of my artistic identity. It reflects my personal connection to my artwork and serves as a reminder of the support and encouragement of my loved ones in my artistic journey.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of your artistic career, and what legacy do you hope to leave behind through your paintings?

In the future, I aspire to continue creating art that celebrates the beauty of the natural world and the richness of human experience. My goal is to inspire empathy, reflection, and positive change through my paintings, leaving behind a legacy of love and appreciation for nature and humanity. Whether my artwork is displayed in prestigious museums or cherished in private collections, I hope it will continue to resonate with viewers on a deep emotional level, prompting them to see the world with greater clarity and compassion.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

As someone who has had the privilege of traveling to many beautiful destinations, I still have a few places on my bucket list that I hope to visit someday. One destination that holds particular allure for me is Bora Bora, with its pristine beaches and turquoise waters. I am also drawn to the rugged beauty of Greenland, with its majestic glaciers and breathtaking landscapes. Exploring these remote and awe-inspiring destinations would be a dream come true for me.

What’s your go-to quote when you are lacking motivation?

When I am lacking motivation, I often turn to literature, film, or theatre for inspiration. Stories have a unique power to ignite the imagination and spark creativity. Whether it’s the world of Griet and Vermeer in “Girl with a Pearl Earring” or the tragic tale of Anna Karenina, I find that immersing myself in the rich tapestry of human experience can rekindle my passion for art and storytelling.

Where can people follow you and find out more?

You can learn more about my artwork and stay updated on my latest exhibitions and projects by visiting my website at artnow0.webnode.com. I invite you to explore my portfolio and discover the stories behind my paintings. 

Step into the world of Jessica Steele, where jewellery isn’t just an accessory; it’s a conduit for storytelling, emotion and sustainability. As the visionary founder of The Jewellery Consultant, Jessica has redefined luxury by infusing it with purpose and authenticity.

With over 16 years of experience in the jewellery industry, Jessica’s journey is a testament to resilience, creativity and unwavering passion. From her humble beginnings to establishing her own brand, she has remained steadfast in her commitment to creating pieces that stand the test of time, both in craftsmanship and sentiment.

In an exclusive interview with House of Coco magazine, Jessica shares her insights, inspirations and the driving force behind her Metamorphosis collection, a stunning fusion of artistry and profound storytelling.

Join us as we delve into the world of Jessica, a trailblazer whose creations not only adorn the body but also resonate deeply with the soul…

Your brand, The Jewellery Consultant, is described as “sustainable, meaningful luxury.” Can you delve deeper into what sustainability means to you and how it influences your design process?

Looking after the planet is a really important part of my ethos. When I first entered the jewellery industry over 16 years ago, I never understood the impact that the beautiful materials I worked with could have on the environment and people living within it. Thankfully, I, and the industry, have come a long way since then. I am a big advocate of designing pieces that stand the test of time, not only from a point of view of wear but also by not jumping onto trends but leading my own way with pieces I feel will be passed down and enjoyed throughout generations.

The Metamorphosis collection is both visually stunning and emotionally profound. How do you navigate the balance between creating aesthetically pleasing pieces and infusing them with personal and societal significance?

I think my pieces are naturally infused with personal and societal significance because jewellery is my way of storytelling. There is no surprise that the significance that Metamorphosis holds within my own life also applies to others worldwide. We all experience loss and transformation in some way during our lifetime, and that, in itself, is beautiful! But creating something visually appealing that also shows that deep meaning can sometimes be tricky, but I am still so proud of how this collection continues to grow!

Nature seems to be a significant source of inspiration for you, especially evident in the Metamorphosis collection. Can you share more about your connection to nature and how it informs your creative process?

I spent a lot of time in nature as a child, and I was thankful enough to understand the importance of things much smaller than myself. I fear that the younger generations are so distracted that they don’t always have the opportunity to immerse themselves in it the way I did as a child. Any opportunity for me to share my love of this in my work is something I cannot pass up!

Collaborations can often bring new dimensions to a brand’s identity. Are there any dream collaborations you envision for The Jewellery Consultant in the future?

In terms of other brands, I have always dreamed of creating an exclusive Metamorphosis Collection for Liberty London because I think their prints would look incredible on the wings of my butterflies.

In your journey as a jewellery designer and business owner, what has been the most unexpected lesson you’ve learned about yourself or your craft?

I think resilience is one thing I learned about myself while running a business. My empathy allows me to connect with people on a deeper level, which I think is what ultimately led me to jewellery. But for years, I was told that I was too sensitive to run a business, which is clearly not the case. I have faced many difficult hurdles in my 4 years, but I am more resilient because of it, and I continue to learn and grow every step of the way, despite setbacks.

Many aspiring designers look up to you as a role model in the industry. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the world of jewellery design and entrepreneurship?

To understand that the foundation of your business is you, but also whom you surround yourself with. Running a business is not for the faint of heart. You will have to be your biggest cheerleader, and it will be tricky, but so worth it if you are able to keep going. I think social media creates the idea of overnight success, but often you don’t see the decades of work and failures which went in beforehand, so don’t be put off by those – it will make you better in the long term.

Your commitment to exceptional customer-focused experiences is evident. How do you ensure that each client feels valued and understood throughout their journey with The Jewellery Consultant?

Communication is key. It was purposeful that each client would have 1:1 time with me in person at each step of their journey. Too often, people experience distraction in today’s world, and when someone is purchasing a piece of jewellery, often with huge sentimental value, they should be made to feel special. I hear horror stories of clients who have visited jewellers only to be totally ignored or pushed to purchasing something they didn’t want. I want every client to leave my office knowing that they received something far beyond their expectations.

The concept of creating future heirlooms is both romantic and enduring. Can you share a story of a particularly memorable piece that holds special significance for you or your clients?

Remodels are one of my favourite things to do, but one of my favourite remodels was a piece that we created for a client who had lost his mum. We combined gold and diamonds he had inherited from his late mum to create a custom signet ring, including lots of hidden meaning and important dates engraved. To anyone else, the ring may be beautiful, but the hidden symbols were a super important part of the design and something which is so personal for my client.

Your journey from college to establishing your own brand is inspiring. What were some pivotal moments or decisions that shaped your path to where you are today?

From the age of sixteen, I always knew what I wanted. The vision of my first studio was something I had dreamt of from that age. I offered to volunteer for so many local jewellers just to gain experience in my teenage years but was always turned down, so I decided to teach myself. Years later I entered the jewellery industry and gained another level of expertise which far surpassed what I had learnt myself at the bench. Ultimately, I always had a burning desire to fulfil this dream, and to this day that continues. Passion for jewellery drives me to learn as much as I can about this fascinating industry.

The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to businesses worldwide. How did you navigate the uncertainties and adapt your business model to thrive during such difficult times?

There was a hell of a lot of pivoting! It was a roller coaster really; the market was changing constantly so learning a new way of working was crucial in making it through. I remember I had a client who was looking for a specific colour of sapphire for his engagement ring, one which is only available in Montana in the US but suppliers in the UK had not been overseas on their usual buying trips so sourcing this colour was virtually impossible. I managed to find an artisan husband & wife team in Montana who mine & cut their own stones; they sourced a sapphire in the rough for my client & cut it to requirements. This all happened during the height of the pandemic, with multiple lock downs & the ring was delivered to my customer on Christmas eve of 2020.

Your brand ethos seems deeply rooted in authenticity and personal connection. How do you maintain these values as your business continues to grow?

For sure & sometimes I wonder as the business grows how I maintain that. I think it is possible but it’s all about ensuring the right people are on board. That being said, I believe what you put out you attract, so my optimistic outlook is that when we look to recruit in the future we’ll be able to find the right people to expand the team.

Innovation often drives progress in the world of design. Are there any new techniques or materials you’re excited to explore in future collections?

It would be wrong to ignore how AI is changing the landscape for jewellery. It can be fascinating to see how brands are offering a different customer experience by utilising AI for designing & manufacture. I have personally witnessed AI programmes set up for allowing customers to design their own pieces. While it was interesting to see, it felt soulless & did not compare to the human experience that my clients love.

Your dedication to creating meaningful jewellery extends beyond aesthetics. How do you ensure that each piece tells a unique story and resonates with its wearer on a personal level?

Jewellery for me is storytelling, so it’s all about understanding the person or people I’m creating for. In a consultation, I make a conscious effort to get to know my clients on a deeper level. Oftentimes we take our own lives stories for granted in that they are not interesting to us, but those are the ones which I want to hear from my clients so I can translate them into a beautiful design that honours them in the pieces I create.

Balancing work and personal life can be challenging, especially as an entrepreneur. How do you maintain harmony between your professional endeavours and family life?

I think that was one aspect of my business which I always found difficult. When I fell pregnant with my son in 2020, I knew I would have to take a step back from my business, but it was not easy for me. Since then, I have made sure I am strict with my working hours, and I switch off notifications for downtime. Most recently I have changed my working weekend to be off with my family. My son is still young, and he is ultimately my priority, so maintaining 1:1 time with him is incredibly important.

As your brand expands internationally, how do you ensure that The Jewellery Consultant remains true to its roots while embracing diverse cultural influences?

I think universally there are a lot of things in humanity which bring us together, even vastly different cultures have the same or similar core beliefs, so I think embracing who I am and what my brand represents at its core is a key value of remaining true. I’m really lucky to have a member of my team who has spent her life travelling and working abroad; she is also multilingual, so it helps to have her on board while we explore together the international market.

The journey of grief and transformation is reflected beautifully in the Metamorphosis collection. How do you approach translating such profound emotions into tangible works of art?

Usually, I start with a gemstone or at least a vague concept, with Metamorphosis, my work was driven by my grief, and creating pieces has always been a cathartic process for me. It allowed me to make sense of something which is unique to me but also something every person has to go through in life. I think there is a lot to be said for creating something beautiful from a very sad story.

Community engagement seems integral to your brand identity. How do you foster connections with your audience both online and offline?

Absolutely, and as I mention all the time, I absolutely love people! So speaking to my audience and understanding them is, of course, a part of running my business, but I actually really enjoy it. Human connection has changed vastly over the years, but I have a global audience and people whom I’ve shared true connection and championship with all the way from Florida to Milan. I made these connections by engaging with people through various social media platforms; it fascinates me!

Continuous learning is essential for growth in any field. What are some resources or practices you rely on to stay inspired and informed in the ever-evolving world of jewellery design?

My love for this industry never waivers, so being a part of it has always remained even while running my independent business. I regularly attend trade shows to keep in the loop, and I stay connected to the likes of Fair Luxury who are constantly driving for better ethical practices in the industry and the conversations surrounding that.

Your commitment to sustainability sets a commendable standard in the industry. Can you share some initiatives or practices implemented within The Jewellery Consultant to minimise environmental impact?

I am constantly looking for new ways to make my business better in this regard, and I don’t think that ever stops. Providing transparency has always been at the top of my list for my customers. I also provide various options for my customers like Fair Trade Gold, Single Mine Origin Gold, and most recently connecting with a gemstone supplier which provides end-to-end traceability with mines in.

Looking back on your journey so far, what legacy do you hope to leave behind through your brand and your creations?

I really hope that people remember my brand as being authentic luxury but with sustainable practices that make a difference. I would love to have my brand grow in a way where I can make a larger positive impact on the world. One of the reasons I was drawn to jewellery making so much is having pieces that are hallmarked with my mark, in centuries to come, perhaps someone will pick up one of my items & admire it.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I’d love to visit Japan, for the cuisine and the country’s beautiful landscape, but I also adore the rich history they have. Alongside jewellery, I have always admired the work of ancient armoury & the decorative aspect of swords, so it is my dream to see a traditional katana being made.

What’s your go-to quote when you are lacking motivation?

“No one is going to save you but yourself.” Sounds harsh but it’s true. When I’m in a bit of a funk, I have to remind myself that I can only be accountable for myself and I am the driving force in my life and business.

Where can people follow you and find out more?

You can follow me on Instagram @jessicasteelejewellery, and my website is www.thejewelleryconsultant.co.uk.

If you’re hungry for more tales of resilience, creativity, and unwavering determination, dive into our treasure trove of inspiring stories. Let’s embark on a journey together, exploring the boundless possibilities of the human spirit.

Visit House of Coco today and ignite your own spark of inspiration.

Embark on a journey with us in our next Worldwide Wonders feature as we delve into the captivating story behind JO&LYD, a brand born from a passion for handcrafted elegance and a commitment to supporting independent designers.

From the inception of JO&LYD to its remarkable evolution over time, founder Pantelis Chatzigeorgiou shares insights into the brand’s ethos and vision…

What inspired you to start JO&LYD, and how has that initial inspiration evolved over time?

I have always enjoyed observing the creations of independent designers. These handcrafted designs were the result of the artist’s expression; they had something authentic, beyond the limits set by famous brands. There are many artisans out there who create handmade jewellery that is superior in quality compared to many well-known brands. The initial inspiration behind JO&LYD stemmed from a deep love for beautiful, handcrafted jewelry and a desire to support and promote independent creators with the rest of the world.

Can you share a memorable moment or milestone in JO&LYD journey that made you particularly proud?

The most memorable moment was the day I received an email with a collaboration proposal from a well-known film studio in L.A. A well-known costume designer working on a TV-series production asked me to supply her with freshwater pearl necklaces. Admittedly, I didn’t expect it; I was fully surprised. It was one of those moments that remain indelibly etched in my memory. We still continue our partnership, and some of our jewellery is worn by actors in the series. We get the satisfaction and pride of seeing our handmade jewellery worn by those famous actors on TV.

How do you go about discovering new independent designers to feature on JO&LYD?

Recently we have been looking for new fashion designers. Last year, I tried to visit as many as I could, in addition to my obligations, various fashion exhibitions mainly in the Scandinavian countries, where several designers exhibit their creations. There I had the pleasure of meeting several talented fashion designers, and it has inspired me to expand my business to include apparel. We are always looking for new independent designers. That never stops.

For me, the key as a CEO is to find common goals and interests with my partners. Hallmarks of good business relations include trust, loyalty, and communication. So, soon we will surprise our friends with new collections.

What role do you believe JO&LYD plays in supporting and promoting independent fashion designers?

Supporting independent fashion designers is crucial for encouraging creativity, diversity, and sustainability in the fashion industry and for talented people to express themselves through their art. This is the most important for JO&LYD. To support people who want to work from home and get paid for their own creations. This also has a climate-friendly footprint since no one needs to take their car or transport to get to work. Local, small-scale production is the future in my opinion.

How do you balance staying true to your brand values while adapting to evolving fashion trends?

Our company’s line is specific and focuses on the manufacture of handmade accessories. Jewelry made of gold, silver, gemstones, and pearls will symbolise timeless luxury and elegance, and that is not going to change.

Can you tell us about a challenge you faced while building JO&LYD and how you overcame it?

From a business perspective, the challenges are many, especially here in Sweden, where the market is mostly dominated by multinational companies that source their products from Asia. Customers are so used to cheaper products, so it is difficult to compete with the prices when you cooperate with independent designers. We want to focus more on quality, not on quantity. This is where you need belief in your vision, patience, time, and the right partners. After all, success is a matter of time.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to break into the fashion industry?

Know your market. You must thoroughly research your target market before launching your business. Build your network and connections within the industry. But most importantly, be confident, stay true to your unique style, and never give up. With dedication and unwavering passion, you can make it in the fashion world.

What is your favourite piece of jewellery or accessory currently offered on JO&LYD, and why?

Each piece of jewellery has its own story and character. But I would say that my favourite pieces of jewellery are rings. The combination of 925 silver with freshwater pearls and gemstones makes these rings truly unique.

What do you think sets JO&LYD apart from other online jewellery and accessory retailers?

Our clear focus on timeless pearl jewellery. We will stay true to our style and not try to offer a little bit of everything. We focus on quality and personal expression and always provide personal service.

What’s your go-to quote when you are lacking motivation?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

Japan is a place my son and I dream about going to together. Otherwise, the Greek islands are always my go-to destinations. I can highly recommend Symi, located 50 minutes away by boat from Rhodes.

Lastly, what message would you like to share with the readers of House of Coco magazine about the JO&LYD journey and the future of fashion?

I have invested a lot of time, energy, and care into the business. That is why the name is a dedication to my children, Jonathan and Lydia. The fashion industry is predicted to go through a major transformation in the coming years, due to technological developments and a stronger focus on sustainability. We are in the forefront of this development, with our focus on sustainable production, inclusivity and original expression.

Whether you’re seeking the next must-have accessory or yearning for a glimpse into the future of fashion, let House of Coco be your guide.

Step into the world of Bénédicte de Boysson, where timeless elegance intertwines seamlessly with modern glamour, and each piece of jewellery tells a story of creativity and sophistication.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the creative mind behind the brand, exploring the inspirations, values, and craftsmanship that define Bénédicte de Boysson Jewellery.

Bénédicte de Boysson’s journey is one marked by a deep appreciation for heritage, a multicultural upbringing, and a commitment to infusing each creation with meaning and beauty. From paying homage to classic pieces to celebrating the mystical allure of stones, her designs resonate with individuals who seek to express their inner essence through exquisite adornments.

Join us as we uncover the philosophy guiding Bénédicte’s design process, the influence of her diverse experiences on her creative vision, and her dedication to upholding exceptional French craftsmanship….

Bénédicte, your brand embodies a captivating blend of timeless elegance and modern glamour. How do you ensure this balance resonates in every piece you create?

In my opinion, creativity is always a balance of intuition and awareness of what already exists. So, I remember what great artists and fashion moguls have done in the past and try to add my personal touch. For me, there is nothing better than classics.

As we usually say in France, “simplicity is elegance.” Personally, I would add that simplicity is also modernity; it is the perfect equilibrium between timeless and elegance. I have always designed something that speaks to my heart and that I would personally wear on an everyday basis and in the long run.

But with Bénédicte de Boysson Jewelry, I really chose to pay homage to a classic piece: the “Long Sautoir Necklace.” Coco Chanel popularised it at the beginning of the 20th Century, and it was worn for any occasion. My purpose is to bring the focus back to this amazing timeless piece and revisit it with my own creativity.

All of our Sautoir Necklaces are produced in limited editions – 16 pieces per model and colour to always ensure new models and designs. Then, around this piece, I create an entire collection of matching pieces to complete the look.

Your jewellery is described as “head-turner” pieces that are uniquely striking yet effortlessly refined. How do you approach the design process to achieve this distinctive aesthetic?

Designing comes from the heart and only the heart. It is hard for me to answer this question as it is an inspiration, a deeper knowing intertwined with joy and happiness. So, it is difficult to put words onto something that is so “intangible” but yet magical. When you experience passion, happiness in you, it is effortless. I think the key here is just to listen to your inner self and who you truly are.

We are all unique but one at the same time. So if what I create comes from my heart, it will speak to yours. With experience and time, I have noticed that people usually say that my designs are unique, different, amazingly beautiful and easily noticed when worn.

As someone who has traveled the world extensively, how has your multicultural upbringing influenced your designs and creative vision?

Traveling was one thing, but living in different countries allowed me to really delve into the different cultures and experiences of the world’s diversity. Of course, it influences your creativity and brings ideas, but I would say it brings deeper values like openness, compassion, and a deep personal expansion of your soul. All those ingredients are needed when you decide to create your dream and put it into form.

Could you share a specific moment or experience from your travels that directly inspired one of your jewellery collections?

When I started my brand, I went to Thailand, this beautiful, colourful country. All those colors really inspired me. They also have those multiple/bazaar shops where you can buy anything, and from time to time, there are those stone jewellery shops. I was already a big fan of coloured stones, and I thought they were not really given the right homage in the luxury world. So I decided to focus on them and bring my personal touch with my experience from the luxury jewellery world.

Your brand emphasises the intertwining of French elegance with the mysticism of stones. How do you infuse this concept into your designs?

As I previously said, I have always been a big fan of stones and all the mystical aspects behind them. I believe they speak to your soul and vice versa. What I really love about those stones is that you can be amazingly creative with them. Each stone can be cut according to a design while respecting the way they naturally grow. If you look at the beginning of the 20th century in the Art-Deco jewellery style, especially in France, they used to really put them forward rather than diamonds at the time.

Bénédicte de Boysson Jewelry is known for accentuating understated elegance. How do you ensure each piece reflects this understated sophistication?

Very humbly, I try to put a little bit of my soul into each of my creations. I was brought up with a mother who was always very elegant, into details, and who knew how to style everything: From herself, the house, the Garden “à la française” to flower arrangements. I guess she did influence me in the best way.

You’ve mentioned that you see yourself as a “stage director” whose goal is to illuminate the stones in the best possible way. Can you elaborate on how this philosophy guides your creative process?

I like to say that I am just the one who “adds on” to the stone. The stones already speak for themselves with the colour, the texture, the story, and significance they have on their own. I am just here to add the small touch of embellishment they deserve with my creativity and design.

Your commitment to exceptional French craftsmanship is evident in every piece. How do you maintain such high standards of quality and artistry?

I make sure that the best artisans in France surround me, those who really respect the traditional know-how of jewellery making. Unfortunately or fortunately, today so many big actors are producing in quantities as the demand is always growing, but it also means standardising production to gain time and margin.

I am going the opposite way; I am making sure that each of my pieces is made from A to Z by one jeweller as I believe that you can really live the process fully and bring to life the finished piece from your heart and passion. For sure, sometimes, we are facing some delivery time gaps. But what else than to have the excitement of waiting and expecting something that really speaks to your heart and is made with passion and love?

Each stone in your jewellery is handpicked and imbued with meaning. Can you share a story behind one of your favourite stones and its significance to you?

I do not really have one favourite stone. I love them all, as one would speak louder during a period of my life and then it would be another one. I believe that we are in constant evolution and expansion if we allow our soul to be so. For example, these days I am really drawn to grey moonstone.

If you look at the signification, it means inner peace and calm. It is a stone of new beginnings and is believed to help with decision-making. It is also a stone for reinforcing the divine feminine power. If I am honest, it is exactly what my soul needs these days to ground those beautiful energies and expand deeper.

Your upbringing in a lineage of nobles dedicated to serving the world is fascinating. How does this heritage influence your brand’s ethos and values?

I would say it is both a burden and a blessing. I am very grateful that I was raised with these beautiful, upright values as it gives a sense of respect, honour, honesty, and integrity. You really need those to embrace who you are truly. But on the other hand, it can be a lot of pressure from the lineage. However, it is a good lesson to learn how to detach from those and keep only the right things that speak to your own self without forgetting where you are coming from.

Your brand celebrates freedom and creativity. How do you encourage these values within your team and throughout your creative process?

You can only embrace true freedom from within with peace and happiness. When you are truly free, then you can expand and be creative from your heart. Those values are to be lived and shared with others. You cannot be free and happy alone in the long run. We are all one, and it is the beauty of it. With my team, I try to allow them to find their own balance between their own happiness and freedom.

If I apply those values to myself, I should be applying them to everybody around me. It brings me joy and happiness to see my team being happy every day. I also make sure that individuals do what they like to do as I believe it is the best way to move forward and together.

What inspired you to create jewellery specifically for women who want to express their feminine and glamorous sides?

Sometimes in the world we live in, it is hard to really come back to our true essence as a woman. With everything around us, it can be challenging to be feminine and glamorous without falling into vulgarity and provocation. The Feminine, like the masculine, has been twisted and it can be hard to find your way back to those pure energies. We carry both of them, but I believe there should be a balance between them. In my opinion, those are just energies rather than physical or material things.

My purpose with my jewellery is to really speak to the soul. I like to imagine that my jewellery would act like talismans and help you integrate slowly a balance within you. The combination of the stones chosen by you with the design will help you feel beautiful, elegant, and feminine.

Your pieces are worn by those who command attention and elegance. How do you envision your jewellery empowering the individuals who wear it?

When I started, little did I know it would happen? I never truly decided any of this. With time and experience, I have just seen, noticed, and been told that when my clients wear my creations, they feel amazing, glamorous, and empowered by themselves. I am just “an added tool” to help them shine their own inner beauty.

In a world of fast fashion, your brand emphasises timeless pieces. How do you ensure your designs remain relevant and coveted for years to come?

I do not know how everything will grow and evolve, but I like to put the greatest intention into it. I am not a big fan of fast fashion myself as I am more into taking the time to buy and really feel what I would like for myself. I am more into consuming with awareness and feeling what I would love to wear in the long run. At first, I thought I was going the opposite way as the world is today, but surprisingly I discovered that quiet luxury and investment pieces are an absolute trend, which is really what Bénédicte de Boysson is all about.

Collaboration and community are essential elements of growth. How do you foster these connections within your brand’s ecosystem?

As I said, we are all unique but one at the same time. I believe collaboration and community are key elements for personal growth but also for anything you would create. I allow anything or anyone that the universe will bring to me, listen to my intuition and inner heart, and see if it is in alignment with who I am, what my brand is, and if the rest of my team agrees to it. I am a true believer of “you attract who you are.” I would also add that you grow with the ones around you. I believe it is a conscious decision to keep the right people around you to maintain a perfect balance for yourself and your surroundings.

Looking ahead, what exciting projects or collections can we expect from Bénédicte de Boysson Jewellery?

We have so many exciting things in the pipeline, so it is difficult to really focus on one. We are now slowly but surely expanding our presence on the web and with selected retailers around the world. We also have so many exciting partnerships with the media, but it is still confidential for now. Personally, I’d rather talk about creativity as it is what I love to do and the essence of Bénédicte de Boysson. I truly hope to continue the expansion of some of our existing collections.

As you know, our specialty is Long Sautoir necklaces, but I would also like to develop “smaller products” around some of our existing collections in the future and why not release a new Long Sautoir Necklace with pearls. I am also developing personalised pieces for my clients. It takes time but It is a growing demand for personalised and unique design.

What legacy do you hope to leave through your brand’s impact on the world of fashion and jewellery?

Only “God/The Universe” knows. I’d rather live in the moment, keep creating, expand and let everything unfold the way it should be. But If there was one wish in “my legacy,” it would be to bring back luxury jewellery wearing to luxury jewellery with meanings as the Egyptians did when wearing jewellery as talismans.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I am so curious and love to travel, so everywhere is on my bucket list. I’ll let you know and see what new inspirations will come out from it.

What’s your go-to quote when you are lacking motivation?

Listen to your heart, Be present, Trust, and Let go.

Where can people follow you and find out more?

www.benedictedeboysson.com / Instagram: benedictedeboyxson

As we conclude our conversation with Bénédicte de Boysson, we are left inspired by her passion, creativity, and commitment to timeless elegance. But the journey of discovery doesn’t end here.

For more inspiring stories and exclusive interviews with visionaries from diverse fields, visit House of Coco.

Meet Sharon A. Keyser, the visionary founder of SKCreations, LLC, a beacon of creativity and innovation in the world of textiles and vibrant design. With an unwavering passion for bold colors and originality, Sharon’s journey from a young girl sewing aprons to a distinguished entrepreneur at the forefront of the fashion industry is nothing short of inspiring. Her upbringing, steeped in the elegance of her family’s style and the invaluable lessons passed down by her great-grandmother, laid the foundation for her artistic endeavours.

Driven by a desire to create pieces that resonate with individuality, Sharon embarked on a path that seamlessly intertwines her love for textiles with her innate sense of style. From humble beginnings to debuting collections at New York Fashion Week, Sharon’s dedication to her craft shines through in every stitch.

As a Woman-Owned Certified Minority Business Enterprise, Sharon has navigated the challenges of the industry with resilience and grace, turning setbacks into opportunities for growth. Her commitment to sustainability and ethical practices underscores her belief in using art as a force for positive change.

Join us as we delve into the vibrant world of Sharon A. Keyser, where creativity knows no bounds and each design tells a story of empowerment and inspiration.

What initially drew you to the world of textiles and vibrant colours, and how did your upbringing influence your passion for creating?

My favourite colour is red, which I see as powerful and energetic. Bold and vibrant colors feel full of life to me and speak to my tactile nature, igniting my excitement when incorporated into textiles. My personal style has always leaned towards originality, drawn to unique pieces rather than mass-produced trends. This inclination was shaped by my upbringing, particularly by the stylish women in my family, notably my grandmother, who effortlessly elevated even simple clothing. Additionally, learning to sew from my great-grandmother at a young age allowed me to create outfits that reflected my individuality.

Can you share a memorable experience from your childhood that solidified your love for sewing and fabric design?

As a young girl, spending summers with my great-grandmother, she taught me how to sew. Using her vintage Singer sewing machine, I embarked on my first project, crafting an apron. Impressed with my work, she entrusted me with making throw pillows from red velvet fabric for Christmas, which further fuelled my passion. My mother then gifted me my own sewing machine, and from there, my love for fabrics and design grew. I frequented fabric stores, often sewing outfits after school and wearing them proudly the next day. This love evolved into a desire to create original designs, laying the foundation for my current work.

What inspired you to transition from creating for personal enjoyment to founding SKCreations, LLC?

Initially, I didn’t intend to sell my creations; I was immersed in the joy of my newfound hobby. However, as others admired my work and expressed interest in purchasing, I saw an opportunity. Amidst the demands of school and work, my passion for design persisted, eventually leading me back to sewing. Encouraged by the positive response to my creations, I established SKCreations, LLC.

As the founder of a Woman-Owned Certified Minority Business Enterprise, what challenges have you faced in the industry, and how have you overcome them?

As an artist finding my footing, I encountered numerous rejections before successes. Despite setbacks, I remained steadfast in my belief in myself and my craft. Initially striving to fit into perceived norms, I eventually realised the importance of authenticity and staying true to my vision. These experiences taught me resilience and ultimately contributed to my breakthroughs in the industry.

Can you walk us through a typical day at SKCreations, LLC? What does your creative process look like?

No two days are alike in my business. Some days, I spend hours designing on my computer, experimenting with colors and patterns. Other days involve virtual meetings with international showrooms, coordinating photo shoots, or fulfilling orders. Despite the varied tasks, organisation is key to maintaining balance between creativity and business operations.

How do you stay inspired and keep your creativity flowing amidst the demands of running your own businesses?

Creativity serves as a therapeutic outlet amidst the demands of running a business. I prioritise carving out time for creative pursuits, recognising its vital role in maintaining balance. Even during busy periods, I jot down ideas for future projects, ensuring a steady flow of inspiration. Additionally, listening to my body and allowing myself breaks when needed rejuvenates my creative energy.

What role do you believe creativity plays in everyday life, and how do you encourage others to embrace their own creative passions?

Creativity fosters a positive outlook, allowing individuals to envision possibilities beyond current circumstances. I encourage others to nurture their creative spark, as it can lead to newfound passions and opportunities for growth.

Could you share a particularly rewarding moment or project that stands out to you in your journey as an entrepreneur and artist?

A standout moment in my journey was debuting a collection at my first New York Fashion Week show. Despite the challenges of a freezing outdoor runway, the experience was unforgettable, marking a significant milestone in my career.

In what ways do you strive to incorporate sustainability and ethical practices into your businesses?

I prioritise collaborating with contractors who operate sustainably, preserving environmental and social resources. Ethical business practices are fundamental to my brand, ensuring honesty and fairness in all engagements.

How do you balance the artistic side of your work with the practical aspects of running a business?

While creativity drives my work, my background in accounting and finance equips me to manage the practical aspects of running a business. Balancing both sides requires careful attention, but my experience allows me to navigate this intersection effectively.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to pursue their passion in the creative industry?

Embrace the journey, recognising that success takes time and perseverance. Learn from setbacks and trust your intuition, staying true to your vision.

Can you tell us about a setback or failure you encountered along the way, and how you turned it into a learning experience?

Opening kiosks at shopping malls was a challenging endeavour, marked by long hours and fluctuating sales. Despite eventual closure, the experience taught valuable lessons in resilience and preparedness for future ventures.

How do you approach collaboration and partnerships in your business endeavours?

While I primarily operate solo, collaborations offer exciting opportunities to expand my brand’s reach. Working with artists during fashion shows has been particularly rewarding, introducing my designs to new audiences.

What do you hope people feel or experience when they interact with your designs or products?

My designs aim to evoke positivity and inspiration, uplifting those who interact with them.

As someone deeply connected to the creative process, how do you navigate the intersection of art and commerce?

While creativity drives my passion, commerce validates my work and sustains my business. I appreciate the symbiotic relationship between the two, allowing me to pursue my craft while sharing it with the world.

What future goals or aspirations do you have for SKCreations, LLC, and Cultured Wags Swag?

I envision SKCreations, LLC thriving with timeless designs and expanding into gender-neutral products. As for Cultured Wags Swag, I plan to reignite my focus on providing products for pets and their humans.

Can you share any exciting upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re particularly excited about?

I’m thrilled to collaborate on a project focused on a global sustainable future, curated by Fashion Crossover London.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

Ghana is currently at the top of my bucket list, drawn to its vibrant textiles and expressive art.

Lastly, if you could offer one piece of advice to your younger self when you were just starting out on this journey, what would it be?

Persist in following your dreams, embracing setbacks as opportunities for growth.

Where can people follow you and find out more?

For more information, visit my website at www.skcreations.com and follow me on Instagram at @skcreationsllc.

Meet Sarah, a trailblazer in the world of permanent makeup. With seven years of experience as a cosmetic tattooist, Sarah has not only honed her craft but has also revolutionised the industry with her innovative approach.

Specialising in ombré brows, Sarah saw a gap in the market for a more natural and subtle enhancement, and she seized the opportunity to create her own signature style. Her journey from aspiring entrepreneur to successful business owner is a testament to her passion, perseverance, and dedication to her craft.

Today, Sarah’s studio, Brows By Sarah, stands as a beacon of excellence, known for its unparalleled technique, personalised customer care, and commitment to delivering stunning, long-lasting results.

Join us as we delve into Sarah’s inspiring story and discover the driving force behind her relentless pursuit of beauty and empowerment…

Brows by Sarah

What inspired you to become a pioneer in the field of permanent makeup, particularly specialising in ombré brows where you went on to launch Brows by Sarah?

When I first trained as a cosmetic tattooist 7 years ago, I saw a gap in the market for a super natural brow. Other artists at the time were either microblading (which can cause scar tissue) or creating quite dark/unrealistic results. This is when I decided I was going to design my own style of ombré brows: simply, your brows, but better.

How do you ensure that each client receives a personalised experience tailored to their unique preferences and features?

During the consultation, just before the pre-draw, we take many things into consideration. We always ask our clients what they would like to achieve from our appointment. Then, we take into consideration the natural hair growth pattern, hair colour, age, skin type, and, of course, the client’s personal preference. With all of these factors combined, we hope to create the perfect bespoke brow.

Can you share with us the journey of establishing Brows By Sarah and how it has evolved over time?

When I was younger, I was a model. I loved it but knew it wasn’t sustainable. Then I met my husband. I was also super creative and wanted to find a career that expressed that. I fell pregnant with our daughter, so I decided I needed to do something that would earn decent money to give us a bit more financial freedom. I knew the only way to go was to become my own boss, so I trained in semi-permanent makeup, and it just took off in a way I only thought imaginable. It’s honestly changed my life in so many ways, and I’m so lucky to have such a supportive family, team, and, of course, the support from my clients.

What sets Brows By Sarah apart from other permanent makeup studios in terms of technique, customer care, and overall experience?

Over the past 7 years, I have carefully selected my team and mentored each artist from the very beginning. Here at BBS, we are like a family and want nothing but the best and highest standards for our clients.

How do you maintain the balance between innovation and maintaining the timeless appeal of natural-looking brows?

I actually think innovation and learning new techniques go hand in hand with timeless brows. With our technique, we have now mastered the art of tattooing brows and achieving the most natural results.

Could you tell us about the most memorable transformation you’ve witnessed through your work at Brows By Sarah?

There have been so many; it’s really hard to pinpoint. I recently treated a client who had unfortunately been attacked by a dog and had a very large scar through the eyebrow/forehead that had caused one side to drop dramatically. After a few sessions, I have created more symmetrical brows that have framed her face beautifully!

What challenges have you faced in your career, and how have you overcome them to achieve the level of success you have today?

I’m a big believer that life throws things in your direction for a reason. Not everything works out, but I never look at it as failure but see it as how I can improve and take advantage of those experiences to turn them into successful ones. Every lesson is a valuable one.

As a leader in your industry, what advice would you give to aspiring cosmetic tattooists or entrepreneurs looking to establish their own brand?

I’d say be patient and be kind to yourself. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you need to put in the work, but it is something you will never regret doing.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and techniques in permanent makeup, and how do you incorporate them into your practice?

I also own my training academy, Alpha Academy, which I run every 6 weeks, alongside master classes for other artists who want to widen their skills and knowledge.

What role does continuous education play in maintaining the high standards of excellence at Brows By Sarah?

As semi-permanent makeup is one of the highest-earning, lucrative treatments in the industry, the earning potential is huge! So I feel it is imperative to keep learning and advancing my skill set.

Can you share some insights into your creative process when designing and perfecting each client’s dream brow shape?

During our consultation, we always take into consideration the client’s preferred shape, the natural hair growth, and also the color of their brows. We also factor in age, skin type, and face shape. When all this comes together, it will be bespoke to each individual client.

How do you ensure that the results of your treatments are both stunning and long-lasting while prioritising the health and safety of your clients?

With our technique, we gently airbrush tiny dots of pigment on the skin to create the most natural ombré brow. Our technique is the longest-lasting yet least invasive type of semi-permanent makeup, and all our artists have been fully trained by myself and are insured.

What do you find most rewarding about your work as a permanent makeup artist and educator?

I feel the passion I have for my craft shows through my work and also reflects on my team. We are like a family here at BBS. I absolutely love being able to watch them grow into independent businesswomen themselves, and I am genuinely blessed to do something I love and be able to call it work.

Could you share some tips for maintaining and caring for semi-permanent ombré brows to prolong their longevity?

The most important tips for maintaining your brows are to protect them from sun exposure. That’s why we highly recommend a factor 50 lip balm when going on holiday or facing general sun exposure. If a client desires a certain brow shape, then we recommend keeping up with regular brow maintenance appointments. Following the aftercare we give to our clients plays a massive part in not only caring for their new brows but also maintaining them between appointments.

How do you foster a collaborative and supportive environment within your team at Brows By Sarah?

To me, it’s more of a sisterhood than a workplace. Everyone who works here is fully trained and mentored by myself. We continue with education and hold regular masterclasses to keep up to date with current trends and techniques.

What motivates you to continuously push the boundaries of your craft and offer top-notch services to your clients?

Honestly, it’s not work for me; it’s a passion. The fact I get to do this for work is a dream for me. I have worked and still work hard to get where my business is today, and we continue to grow.

Can you tell us about any exciting projects or collaborations that Brows By Sarah is currently involved in?

My products are now available to purchase from Amazon. The clinic is the busiest it’s ever been, which is amazing, and we are currently looking for a clinic in London. The location is yet to be confirmed, but we do have some potentially very exciting opportunities on the horizon.

How do you handle client feedback and ensure that every experience at Brows By Sarah exceeds expectations?

During the consultation, our number one priority is our client’s personal preference, and we never go ahead unless they are 100% happy. The treatment is split into two appointments as we like to keep it super natural in the first treatment. Then we can add or tweak anything at the next appointment, which is usually 6-8 weeks after their initial appointment.

What do you envision for the future of Brows By Sarah and the beauty industry as a whole?

Continued growth and education not only for Brows by Sarah and my brand but also the beauty industry as a whole. My plan is to take my business to the next level with various projects that are in the pipeline, not only nationwide but internationally.

Our readers love to travel; what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

Santorini, can’t believe I’ve never been. Always wanted to go, so will definitely be going soon.

Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do differently?

As it was a brand new business, and I had never done anything like this before, yes, of course, I would have probably done certain things a bit differently. Saying that, life is a learning curve, and I strongly believe that trial and error is the best way to achieve perfection.

What does self-love mean to you?

Self-love is so important to me. It encourages me to take care of myself not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. I prioritise what my body and mind need in that moment while setting boundaries and being kind to myself.

What’s your go-to quote when lacking motivation?

“Nothing great ever comes from comfort zones. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Lastly, what words of wisdom or encouragement would you offer to individuals considering permanent makeup treatments for the first time?

Permanent makeup isn’t just about vanity. It’s also about how it makes people feel. We help so many men and women feel and look their best, giving them the confidence they may not have had before having this treatment.

As we conclude Sarah’s remarkable journey in the world of permanent makeup, we invite you to explore more inspiring stories in the Worldwide Wonders series on House of Coco. Each tale showcases individuals like Sarah who are breaking boundaries, pushing limits, and leaving their mark on the global stage.

Whether it’s entrepreneurship, artistry, or innovation, these stories are sure to ignite your imagination and fuel your own aspirations.

Welcome to an exclusive glimpse into the world of Jenny Kiehn, an artist whose boundless creativity knows no bounds. 

Join us as we delve into her sky-bound odyssey, where every stroke of her brush unveils infinite horizons and captures the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world. 

In this interview with House of Coco Magazine, Jenny shares her journey from photographer to sculptor to acclaimed painter of skies, offering insights into her artistic process, her profound connection to nature, and her mission to spread peace and inspiration through her art. 

Get ready to be transported to a world of wonder and possibility as we embark on a captivating exploration of Jenny Kiehn’s visionary artwork and the limitless potential of the human spirit.

What inspired you to focus your artistic talents on painting skies, and how has this journey impacted your creative process?

My journey into painting skies was quite unexpected. After spending two decades exploring various artistic mediums, from photography to sculpture, I found myself drawn back to observational drawing. It wasn’t until my husband asked for a sky mural for his model airplanes that I rediscovered my passion for painting. Despite not having painted significantly in 20 years, I took on the challenge, and that mural marked the beginning of my sky painting journey.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson: sometimes our best work comes when we least expect it, urging us to remain open to new opportunities and embrace them with enthusiasm.

You mentioned the sky as a source of abundance and spirituality. Could you share a specific moment or experience where the sky deeply resonated with you and influenced your artwork?

My artistic journey has always been intertwined with personal growth. Prior to painting skies, I was creating realistic drawings of hibernating animals, symbolising the importance of self-care and healing, particularly as a mother of four young children. However, it was when I painted my first sky mural that everything changed.

The vastness of the sky opened my eyes to the boundless opportunities and peace it offered. It sparked a desire within me to explore endless horizons and embrace a sense of infinite potential. Since then, painting skies has become my primary focus, allowing me to channel tranquility and freedom onto canvas.

Your sky paintings often evoke a sense of calm and tranquility. How do you translate such complex emotions onto canvas, and what techniques do you employ to convey these feelings?

Painting skies offers a unique opportunity to tap into the collective positive associations people have with the sky. My main technique involves creating hyper-realistic scenes that invite viewers to immerse themselves in the artwork, as if stepping into the vast expanse above.

Moreover, I strive to maintain a balance between realism and fluidity in my paintings, ensuring they capture the essence of relaxation and flow. This delicate equilibrium breathes life into the artwork, fostering a sense of peace and serenity.

Exploring the intersection of creativity and science sounds fascinating. Can you share an example of how scientific principles have inspired or influenced your artistic endeavours?

One fascinating aspect of the atmosphere is the condensation point where clouds form—a phenomenon reminiscent of meditation. Just as clouds emerge from the condensation of water vapour, meditation allows the mind to gradually empty until reaching a state of peaceful bliss.

Furthermore, the towering cumulus clouds serve as a metaphor for personal momentum and growth. Much like reaching new heights in one’s endeavours, these clouds ascend with momentum and vitality, symbolising the beauty of progress and achievement.

From photography to sculpture to painting, you’ve explored various mediums throughout your artistic career. What draws you specifically to painting as a means of expression?

Painting offers a tactile and immersive experience that resonates deeply with the ethereal qualities of skies and water. It allows me to play with colour and lightness, capturing the essence of these elements in a tangible form.

Moreover, painting aligns seamlessly with my lifestyle, providing flexibility and autonomy in my creative process. Unlike photography, which is often dictated by external factors like weather and location, painting empowers me to create within the comforts of my home studio, at my own pace.

Your mission is to spread beauty and a sense of limitless potential through your art. How do you hope your paintings impact individuals on a personal level?

My ultimate goal is to instil a sense of peace and empowerment in viewers, encouraging them to embrace their own potential and create a life filled with joy and fulfilment. Through my paintings, I aim to evoke feelings of tranquility and freedom, inspiring individuals to cultivate inner peace and make positive choices in their lives.

Can you walk us through your creative process when starting a new sky painting? How do you approach the blank canvas and decide on the mood and atmosphere you want to capture?

My creative process begins with intuition and emotion. I often have a collection of potential images in mind, and one will inevitably resonate with me more deeply than the others. From there, I allow the painting to unfold organically, gradually revealing its meaning and mood as I work.

This intuitive approach enables me to infuse each painting with authenticity and depth, as the emotions I experience during the process become intertwined with the artwork itself.

What role does meditation play in your artistic practice, and how does it influence the energy you infuse into your paintings?

Meditation serves as the cornerstone of my creative practice, facilitating a state of flow and receptivity that enhances my artistic expression. It allows me to connect with a sense of peace and presence, which in turn infuses my paintings with a profound energy and vitality.

Moreover, meditation serves as a source of inspiration and clarity, guiding me in channeling my emotions and intentions onto canvas with authenticity and purpose.

You’ve mentioned experimenting with different painting techniques, such as rapid painting and underpainting with glazes. Which technique do you find most fulfilling, and why?

Each technique offers its own unique rewards, contributing to the multidimensional quality of my artwork. Rapid painting allows me to capture the immediacy and spontaneity of the moment, while underpainting with glazes adds depth and richness to the final composition.

However, I find the combination of these techniques most fulfilling, as it enables me to explore the full spectrum of possibilities and nuances in my paintings. This dynamic approach fosters a sense of creative freedom and experimentation, enriching the artistic process.

How do you balance the need for structure and planning in your artwork with the desire for spontaneity and creative freedom?

I strike a delicate balance between structure and spontaneity by drawing upon both planning and intuition in my creative process. While I often use photographs for initial planning and composition, I remain open to improvisation and exploration as the painting evolves.

This fluid approach allows me to incorporate elements of surprise and serendipity into my artwork, infusing each piece with a sense of vitality and authenticity. By embracing the interplay between structure and spontaneity, I cultivate a dynamic and evolving artistic practice.

Jenny Kiehn Art

Your sky murals have adorned various spaces, including your own home. How does the environment in which your art is displayed influence its impact on viewers?

The environment plays a crucial role in shaping the viewer’s experience of my art. By bringing the expansiveness of the sky into indoor spaces, I aim to create a sense of tranquility and serenity that resonates with viewers on a personal level.

Many of my collectors choose to display my paintings in their bedrooms, transforming these intimate spaces into peaceful oases of calm and reflection. Moreover, the ever-changing quality of natural light adds an additional dimension to the artwork, creating a dynamic and immersive viewing experience.

Could you share a memorable reaction or feedback you’ve received from someone who has connected deeply with one of your sky paintings?

One of the most touching reactions I’ve received was from individuals who shared how my paintings reminded them of cherished childhood memories spent gazing at the sky with loved ones. Others have expressed how my artwork provided solace and comfort during times of grief, evoking a sense of peace and serenity that touched them deeply.

These heartfelt responses serve as a testament to the power of art to evoke profound emotions and forge connections with others on a deeply personal level.

As an artist and mother, how do you navigate the challenges of balancing family life with your creative pursuits?

Parenthood has brought clarity to my priorities and fuelled my determination to pursue my artistic passions while nurturing my family. Establishing daily self-care routines and delegating household tasks to my children have been essential in maintaining balance and preserving my creative energy.

Moreover, I’ve learned to prioritise my own needs and fill my cup first, recognising that self-care is essential for both personal well-being and creative fulfilment. By cultivating a supportive and nurturing environment at home, I’m able to pursue my artistic endeavours with joy and enthusiasm, enriching both my family life and creative practice.

You’ve spoken at public forums about the intersection of creativity and science. What’s one key takeaway you hope audiences glean from your presentations?

I hope to inspire audiences to recognise the inherent creativity within themselves and embrace it as a powerful tool for innovation and exploration. By fostering a deeper appreciation for the creative process and its intersections with science, I aim to empower individuals to tap into their creative potential and unlock new possibilities for personal and professional growth.

How do you see the relationship between art, science, spirituality, and nature evolving in the future, and how does your work contribute to this evolution?

I believe that art, science, spirituality, and nature are interconnected aspects of the human experience, each offering unique insights into the mysteries of existence. As our understanding of the universe deepens, I envision a future where these disciplines converge to illuminate new pathways of exploration and discovery.

Through my artwork and message of peace, I seek to contribute to this evolution by fostering a deeper connection to the natural world and a greater appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life. By inviting viewers to contemplate the beauty and wonder of the sky, I hope to inspire a sense of awe and reverence for the vastness of the cosmos and our place within it.

Your sky paintings often depict vast expanses and horizons that seem to stretch endlessly. What symbolism do these horizons hold for you personally, and how do you convey this symbolism to your audience?

For me, the horizon represents boundless potential and endless possibility, serving as a metaphor for the infinite expanses of the human imagination. By capturing the beauty and majesty of the horizon in my paintings, I aim to convey a sense of wonder and awe that transcends the limitations of everyday existence.

Moreover, I seek to inspire viewers to embrace their own potential and pursue their dreams with courage and conviction, knowing that the horizon is not a barrier but a gateway to new adventures and experiences. In this way, my paintings serve as a reminder of the limitless potential that resides within each of us, waiting to be discovered and explored.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are struggling to find their unique voice and artistic style?

My advice to aspiring artists is simple: trust in your intuition and embrace the journey of self-discovery. Allow yourself the freedom to explore different mediums and techniques, knowing that your unique voice will emerge over time through experimentation and practice.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or deviate from conventional norms—embrace the process of exploration and discovery, knowing that each experience brings you one step closer to finding your true artistic identity.

Above all, believe in yourself and the power of your creativity to transform lives and inspire others. Your journey as an artist is a deeply personal and transformative one, and it’s important to honour and celebrate your unique vision and perspective.

Can you share a glimpse into your creative workspace and how it fosters your artistic inspiration and productivity?

My studio is a sanctuary of creativity and inspiration, nestled within the comforts of my home. Equipped with controlled lighting and a cosy atmosphere, it provides the perfect environment for me to unleash my imagination and bring my artistic visions to life.

Surrounded by the beauty of nature and the soothing sounds of the outdoors, I find myself immersed in a world of limitless possibility and creative expression. Whether I’m painting at the crack of dawn or late into the night, my studio serves as a sacred space where I can connect with my innermost thoughts and emotions, channeling them onto canvas with passion and purpose.

How do you stay connected with your audience and maintain a sense of community through your mailing list and other platforms?

I stay connected with my audience through regular updates and engagement across various platforms, including social media and email newsletters. By sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses of my creative process, upcoming projects, and personal insights, I strive to foster a sense of community and connection with my followers.

Moreover, I actively encourage feedback and interaction, inviting viewers to share their thoughts, experiences, and artwork with me. This open dialogue not only strengthens the bond between artist and audience but also creates a supportive and inclusive space where creativity can flourish and thrive.

Looking ahead, what artistic goals or projects are you most excited about pursuing in the near future?

I’m excited to explore new avenues of creativity and innovation, particularly through live online workshops and interactive experiences. By sharing my painting techniques and insights with aspiring artists and enthusiasts, I hope to inspire others to embark on their own creative journeys and unlock their full artistic potential.

Additionally, I’m passionate about expanding my reach and sharing my message of peace and empowerment with a wider audience. Whether through new collaborations, exhibitions, or community initiatives, I look forward to continuing my mission of spreading beauty and inspiration to the world.

If you didn’t become an artist, what other career would you have pursued?

Regardless of the career path I might have chosen, I know that art would have always been an integral part of my life. Whether as a hobbyist or a professional, I would have found ways to express my creativity and share my passion for beauty and inspiration with others.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

One destination that has always captured my imagination is the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. During the rainy season, when the shallow water creates a mirror of the sky, it becomes a breathtaking spectacle of natural beauty and wonder—a perfect reflection of the infinite expanses I seek to capture in my artwork.

What’s your go-to quote when you are lacking motivation?

My go-to quote when I’m lacking motivation is simply “Allow.” By reminding myself to let go of resistance and embrace the flow of creativity and inspiration, I’m able to cultivate a sense of ease and receptivity that ignites my passion and reignites my motivation.

Whether through meditation, reflection, or simply taking a moment to connect with my innermost desires, I find that allowing myself the space to be present and open to the possibilities that lie ahead is often the most powerful catalyst for creative renewal and inspiration.

Where can people follow you and find out more?

You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram @jennykiehnart, or visit my website at jennykiehn.com to explore my portfolio, upcoming events, and more. I look forward to connecting with you and sharing the beauty and inspiration of the skies!

If Jenny Kiehn’s skybound odyssey has inspired you to explore the wonders of the world and unleash your own creative potential, we invite you to continue your journey with us.

Head over to our site for more inspiring stories in our Worldwide Wonders series, where you’ll discover captivating tales of adventure, innovation, and inspiration from around the globe.

Step into the world of Holly Kennedy, where colours dance like sunlight on water, and nature’s beauty is immortalised on canvas. With each stroke of her brush, Holly weaves a tapestry of emotions, drawing inspiration from the vibrant hues and intricate textures of the botanical world.

As the sun pours through her window, illuminating her workspace, Holly gathers her tools of creation—paints, inks, carving tools, and oil pastels—each one a gateway to her artistic vision. Memories of Kew Gardens, with its magnolias in bloom and cherry blossoms floating on the breeze, infuse her work with the essence of springtime.

Starting with a blank canvas of Fabriano paper, Holly lets her intuition guide her, selecting colors that speak to her soul. She draws upon the patterns and textures of flowers and foliage, carving them into lino blocks to be printed and repeated with ease.

Layer by layer, Holly builds her masterpiece, exploring the interplay of ink and oil pastel, creating depth and dimension with each stroke. The viscosity of the inks, the softness of the oil pastels—it’s a symphony of textures, a dance of light and shadow.

But Holly’s art doesn’t end with the canvas. Each painting is transformed into a digital file, ready to adorn silk scarves, leather accessories, and even fedora hats. It’s a fusion of art and fashion, a celebration of individuality and expression.

For Holly, painting is more than just a creative outlet—it’s a journey of self-discovery, a path to tranquility and contentment. And as her ink-stained hands bring her visions to life, she can’t help but smile, knowing that she’s captured a moment of beauty that will last a lifetime.

Join us as we delve into the world of Ink & Silk, where every brushstroke tells a story, and nature’s palette is brought to life in vibrant technicolor…

Holly Kennedy

Can you walk us through the journey of how Ink & Silk came to be? What inspired you to start designing and printing your own fabrics?

As a milliner, I was looking for a unique fabric to trim and line my hats, something distinctive. Being a painter by nature, I decided to delve deeper into abstract botanical painting. Ink & Silk was born when I began printing my paintings onto silk twill and designing other silk products I could create with my prints.

You mentioned being inspired by flowers and foliage. Can you tell us more about how nature influences your creative process and the designs you create?

Living near Kew Gardens in Chiswick, just over the river, I became a member at Kew and found myself visiting sometimes twice a week. Each visit was different due to the varying seasons and the vastness of the gardens. My father, a landscape gardener, often taught me the names of flowers, and I frequently found myself drawing them.

What do you hope people feel or experience when they interact with your artworks and designs?

Well, I think that is the beauty of art; people can feel whatever they want, and everybody’s reaction or response is different. One thing I have realised is the impact colour can have on mood. I want to bring a splash of colour into people’s lives.

How do you approach the process of capturing the vibrant hues and textures of nature in your paintings and fabrics?

I often spend time visiting botanical gardens, capturing shapes and forms by sketching as a starting point. Before I start working on large Fabriano paper with acrylic inks, paints, handmade stencils, handmade lino cuts, oil pastels, and ballpoint pens, I choose my palette and mix paints. I focus on colour, mark-making, and abstract interpretations of the botanical world around me.

How do your background in illustration and interactive media inform your work as a painter and milliner?

With a background in illustration and interactive media, I feel I have a rich and diverse skill set that enhances my work as a painter and milliner. Aspects such as storytelling, colour theory, and various digital skills all help navigate the complexities of running a small creative business.

Can you describe your experience apprenticing and studying millinery with Noel Stewart and working for Piers Atkinson? How did this influence your artistic journey?

I was first trained by Noel Stewart while studying on his Millinery course at Kensington and Chelsea College. He was such a skilled and creative milliner to learn from. Then, spending the next months apprenticing with him, I met Piers Atkinson, whom I then went to work for as a Milliner.

Piers Atkinson was truly inspirational for his unwavering commitment to his own artistic vision, and I believe it’s through working with him that I’ve developed the courage to follow my own artistic path.

How has being a mother influenced your creative process and the direction of your career?

Becoming a mother has made me more focused with the time that I get to spend creating. It has also made me less concerned with what people think, so it has been quite liberating.

What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood with your artistic pursuits, and how have you overcome them?

Finding time to create is often scarce when you have young children, so it has forced me to become more focused and productive when I do find those free moments. I have found that gardens are great places to take the children, and while they play, I simply sketch, which is the start of the creative process for me.

How do you stay inspired and motivated in your creative practice, especially during challenging times?

Painting for me is my stillness and soul expression, a space filled with tranquility and contentment, and therefore a sanctuary in challenging times. The same is true of hat-making; I find it a meditative practice where many hours can pass unnoticed.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists and designers who are just starting their journey?

Starting on a path as an artist or designer takes time, dedication, and perseverance. Consistently practice your craft and hone your skills, and most of all, believe in yourself and your art.

Can you discuss the significance of colour in your art and how it contributes to your overall aesthetic?

Colour has always been my emotional expression. Sumptuous hues soothe my soul and excite my eyes, like a magical dusting of happiness. The desire to create my own designs for fabric comes from this feeling.

What impact do you hope to have with your art and designs on individuals and the broader community?

I design my pieces for the confident and stylish individual who values quality and uniqueness. All my products are made in England because quality and sustainability are important to me.

What role does experimentation play in your creative process, and how do you approach trying new techniques or mediums?

I am always exploring different ways of creating marks and textures, from finding dried seed heads and plant stems to paint and print with, to exploring how oil interacts with acrylic ink and the textures that ensue. I love the viscosity of ink to work with, how it flows and saturates the paper, interacting with other marks and paint that come across its path as it spills forth a flood of feelings.

Our readers love to travel; what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I would love to travel to Japan in springtime to experience the cherry and wisteria blossoms coming into bloom. I imagine it to be an extraordinary sensory experience.

What’s your go-to quote when you are lacking motivation?

“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while working.” – Henri Matisse

Finally, what brings you the greatest joy and fulfilment as both an artist and a parent?

I love seeing someone wearing one of my hats or silks and witnessing the pleasure when a customer finds a piece that is a perfect match for their personality or a perfect gift. As a parent, I feel such happiness when my children are being their natural creative selves, seeing them create whether it’s on paper or in imaginary play, showing me how unhindered they are in their creativity, to which I can only aspire.

As we bid farewell to this captivating journey through the world of Ink & Silk with Holly Kennedy, we invite you to continue exploring her vibrant creations and delve deeper into her artistic vision.

Follow Holly on her creative odyssey by visiting her website, where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of her handcrafted silk scarves, leather accessories, and more.

But the adventure doesn’t end here.

Join us on House of Coco, where we celebrate the extraordinary stories of artists, designers, and visionaries from around the globe. Discover more inspiring tales and uncover hidden gems that ignite your imagination and fuel your passion for creativity.

Welcome to a journey through the lens of passion and perseverance, where every frame tells a story of love, authenticity, and artistic vision. Today, we embark on an exclusive interview with none other than Mija Mera, the visionary force behind Mija Mera Photography.

Join us as we delve into the essence of Mija’s artistry, exploring the influences that shape her unique style and the experiences that fuel her creative fire. Through laughter, love and the occasional mishap, Mija Mera reminds us that true artistry lies not only in technical skill but in the courage to stay true to oneself.

So, grab a cup of your favourite brew, settle into the cosy embrace of inspiration and let the magic of Mija Mera Photography ignite your imagination. This is more than an interview; it’s a celebration of the human spirit and the boundless possibilities that await those who dare to chase their dreams…

Mija, your passion for capturing timeless wedding memories is evident. Can you share with us a particularly memorable moment you’ve experienced while shooting a wedding?

Dear Laura, thank you so much for your invitation; it’s a pleasure to meet you. I think the most memorable moment for all photographers is probably their very first wedding. Back then, during the kiss, there was absolute silence, and I stepped on a stone, which made a loud noise on the floor.

Luckily, everyone took it with humour, and I was able to put my biggest fear of embarrassing myself as a wedding photographer aside right away. Since then, I’ve been able to shrug off little mishaps with a laugh, and funnily enough, they happen to me all the time.

Your editorial style is captivating. How do you ensure each wedding you shoot tells a unique and compelling story?

Thank you very much. Due to my background as an editor, the editorial perspective is always the starting point for my work. Couples book me because of my artistic “signature,” so it’s important that my images have the desired recognition value.

Nevertheless, every wedding couple is unique, every bride and groom is individual, and there are all those little unplanned moments that need to be captured. They are what make every wedding a unique story. That’s why I place a strong focus on details and authentic storytelling in my photography, packaged in a fashion magazine-like aesthetic.

Where do you find your inspiration as a photographer?

I have always been fascinated by fashion magazines, which was probably the reason why I decided to study media and economics. Fashion photography is, therefore, my biggest source of inspiration to this day, which gives my pictures their obvious editorial look. But I also find a lot of inspiration in architecture, art, nature, and the great emotions of life. There are also a few role models whom I admire for their photographic work and who also inspire me a lot.

Overall, however, I try not to be influenced too much by other photographers but simply to stay true to myself. I recently read a great poem about this: ‘Your art is not about how many people like your work, your art is about if your heart likes your work, if your soul likes your work. It’s about how honest you are with yourself, and you must never trade honesty for relatability’ (Rupi Kaur).

How would you summarise your photographic style in a few words?

Finding your own style is a never-ending process and certainly one of the most difficult tasks at the beginning of a career as a photographer. My style is still evolving, which is important because only with evolution comes improvement. Overall, however, my visual language is often described as elegant, minimalist, and iconic. It also has a strong artistic flavour, which gives my photos their unique look and has been described by VOGUE as ‘soul-stirring,’ which I think sums it up well.

You mentioned the importance of creating a relaxed atmosphere for your clients. How do you achieve this amidst the hustle and bustle of a wedding day?

As a wedding photographer, you need to understand that people don’t just book photos; they book the experience. Put simply, people book people. That’s why good chemistry with the bride and groom is particularly important to me; then a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere is naturally created – and this is also reflected in my pictures.

Your own wedding taught you valuable lessons. Could you elaborate on how those experiences have influenced your approach to photography?

Of course, but I’ll be brief so as not to go too far. My own wedding taught me that not everything goes according to plan and that you have to remain flexible. I’ve also learned how important it is to have a good relationship with the vendors and to be able to rely on their professionalism.

That’s why I’m available to my wedding couples throughout the planning process to answer any questions and take over on the day of the wedding if we need to improvise. You should simply be able to enjoy your big day so that the beautiful moments and great memories outweigh the negative ones, even if something doesn’t go as planned.

We’d love to hear more about your furry friends! How do your dogs inspire or influence your work, if at all?

Well, my dogs are certainly my most photographed subject. Above all, they are my retreat to relax after a stressful wedding and get back to everyday life. From a photographic point of view, they have taught me that perfection is not always the most important thing in pictures, but that it is above all individual characteristics or everyday moments that need to be captured.

Unfortunately, our four-legged friends won’t be by our side forever, and I already know that these pictures will be invaluable to me one day.

Being an extrovert who also cherishes alone time must offer unique perspectives. How does this balance reflect in your photography?

I love meeting new people or immersing myself in crowds. But I also enjoy the peace and quiet and time for myself, as mental hygiene, so to speak. I also utilise this balance at a wedding: sometimes you’ll find me in the middle of the action, for example, on the dance floor, to capture the atmosphere up close. Sometimes, however, I deliberately take on the role of an observer and capture the events from an outside perspective: all the unnoticed moments, the small details, and the authentic encounters. Because I find that the candid pictures are often the most beautiful in the end – and they also capture the moments that the wedding couple themselves may have overlooked.

The story of how you met your husband sounds like it’s straight out of a romantic comedy! Can you tell us more about that serendipitous encounter?

Yes, that’s right. Our love story is a classic matchmaking story. One day, mutual friends came up with the idea that we might be a good match and told us about their plan. Neither of us was keen on the idea at first. I mean: What are the odds?! Nevertheless, we agreed to meet up with our friends for a night out. We initially arranged to meet at my house for a few drinks, which meant that my now-husband just turned up on my doorstep that evening.

The rest is history.

Growing up in the USA and traveling the world must have been incredible experiences. How do those multicultural influences shape your photography style?

That’s right; my childhood was certainly not normal. I still love looking at the pictures from those trips today, and they have made me a big fan of film photography. Even back then, we always had a camera with us to capture our adventures – and as I was still a child, I would have forgotten many of my memories without these photos.

So traveling has taught me how valuable pictures can be. I also believe that traveling has given me a different perspective on life. I want to make the most of every moment; I like to experience new things, and when a wedding is in a great location or in a different culture, I just can’t say no.

Family seems to be a cornerstone of your life. How do you incorporate the essence of familial bonds into your wedding photography?

Definitely, I am an absolute family person. I have a very close bond with my parents and sisters, and it’s always fascinating to experience this cohesion in other families at a wedding. Because every family is unique, with its own traditions, emotions, and constellations. I love observing them and capturing them authentically. When I photograph a wedding, I, therefore, always keep an eye on the family members to capture their emotional reactions and interactions. After all, they are often the ones who go unnoticed by the bride and groom but are later the most precious memories.

Laughter is such a powerful force. How do you infuse humour into your work to create genuine moments of joy?

Laughter is a constant companion at weddings. So I don’t see myself as an entertainer but rather as a silent observer of authentic events. I’m also a positive person by nature who likes to laugh a lot – and I’m sometimes a bit clumsy, which regularly makes me and others laugh. So humour flows naturally into my work and makes it a fun experience for everyone involved.

Winning the German championship in hip-hop dance is quite an achievement! How, if at all, does your background in dance inform your approach to capturing movement and emotion in your photographs?

Dancing is still a great passion of mine. It has certainly sharpened my sense of posing and expressing emotions, which makes it easier for me to guide my couples or show them my creative vision. I also like to keep my wedding couples moving, which leads to more vibrant images. This automatically makes the groom and bride feel more comfortable, and the images look much more natural.

Being self-employed for over a decade is impressive. What advice would you give to aspiring photographers looking to carve their path in the industry?

Thank you! Well, the path to self-employment is never easy; that should be clear to everyone. Being a good photographer is not enough to turn it into a successful business. There are many impressive photographers out there. Above all, you need to have the right attitude, a strong will, endless discipline, and patience.

A broad network is also helpful. I would, therefore, advise every photographer to set clear goals, build a strong brand from the outset, and focus a lot on business issues such as marketing, not just photographic development. Ultimately, these are different pieces of the puzzle that only work together.

What’s one piece of advice you wish you had received when you first started your journey as a wedding photographer?

I started photography out of passion; it was never about the money. Nevertheless, I encountered a lot of resistance. Be prepared for the fact that there will be a lot of opinions when you go public with your art. You will receive praise, but also unsolicited criticism. You will probably even lose friends. That can be unsettling. But if you stay true to yourself and walk your path with confidence, you will become successful and meet new people who will enrich your life incredibly.

In my opinion, the most important piece of advice would be to be courageous and authentic, don’t let fears stop you, and don’t let opinions influence you. Because your art will never please everyone. There will always be people who love what you do and people who hate what you do. So just stay true to yourself, and the right couples will find you.

Why do you think you became successful in the industry so quickly?

Strong brands don’t chase; they attract. I have followed this principle from the very beginning, and it has brought me to my goal faster than I could ever have imagined. Of course, the basics have to be right first: the technical and artistic understanding of photography itself. The sooner you know where you want to go, the more purposefully you can work towards it.

With two companies under your belt, how do you manage to balance the demands of both businesses while maintaining your artistic integrity?

This only works with very clear priorities and a lot of consideration for yourself. I have been very exhausted in the past and have learnt to set better boundaries and take care of my health. You inevitably reach your mental and physical limits again and again.

But that’s where I’ve grown incredibly as a person, and I believe that this experience has made me the artist I am today and is reflected in my photographic work. At the same time, I have severely limited the number of weddings I take on so that I can photograph each one with full passion and do my best work for each couple. I also allow myself more breaks between weddings, and this helps me to recharge my “creative battery”.

How has being self-employed shaped you as a personality and photographer?

Over the years, self-employment has repeatedly challenged me and pushed me to my limits. But it has also brought me great success and given me a lot of self-confidence. I now know exactly what I can achieve, and I stand up for myself. Because when you’re self-employed, nobody does it for you – you’re basically a lone wolf.

I’ve also learnt to focus on the next step when I’m faced with an overwhelming task – and not be intimidated by the big picture. This attitude also helps me in wedding photography to stay relaxed and positive even in challenging situations, and it’s certainly reflected in my love of detail and minimalism in photography.

Your commitment to telling authentic stories shines through. How do you ensure that each couple’s unique narrative is preserved in your photographs?

Every wedding is unique by nature: its composition, its location, its people, its events. That’s why no two stories are ever the same, and that’s what makes this work so incredibly exciting.

Our readers love to travel; what destination is at the top of your bucket list? And is there a location where you would particularly like to photograph a wedding?

I have a long list of countries I would like to visit for the first time or again. If I had to decide right now, the Cook Islands would be my choice because my husband and I simply love island life. Professionally, I dream of photographing in Quinta do Muro in Portugal. Overall, I currently have a weakness for modern architecture.

And I love love love love Venice… it would be a dream come true to photograph a wedding there.

Lastly, what keeps you inspired and motivated to continue capturing love stories day after day?

The love, the locations, the wedding dresses, the atmosphere, the details… For me, a wedding feels like a real life editorial set where I can fully unleash my creativity. Not only is there one story to tell, but there are so many unique encounters and moments to capture, which always makes it a fascinating experience, both personally and photographically. But it’s also the people who give me so much appreciation and joy every time. I’ve made so many new friends along the way and look forward to every wedding long in advance.

Where can people follow you and find out more?

I am most active on Instagram under @mija.mera. You can find my website at www.mijamera.com. It is currently being updated and will soon be available in English.

Many thanks for the great conversation; I feel honoured!

As we bid adieu to this captivating conversation with Mija Mera, we’re reminded of the power of authenticity, creativity, and unwavering passion. Her journey serves as a testament to the boundless potential that lies within each of us, urging us to embrace our unique visions and pursue them with fervour.

But the adventure doesn’t end here. Dive deeper into the world of inspiration and discovery by exploring more stories on House of Coco Magazine. From captivating interviews with trailblazers like Mija to insightful features on travel, lifestyle and culture, there’s something to ignite the spark of curiosity in every reader.