Natalie Perry, the stylish jewellery designer with an ethical stance
Natalie Perry's fine jewellery pieces are intricately crafted and depict different experiences from her travels. Her most recent collection, Floral Fragments was inspired by the ancient Indian palaces she visited while working in Jaipur. In addition, and central to her work, all pieces are ethically produced. After hearing a Ugandan miner speak of how Fairtrade saved her community by mitigating the health and safety risks, Natalie was determined to make her designs ethically sourced. Although Natalie Perry is relatively new to the fashion scene, her background in jewellery PR gave her critical insights into media and promotion. She is already creating a name for herself, having showcased her debut collection at London Fashion Week. Here to speak about her journey as a jewellery designer and the inspiration behind her pieces, is the talented Natalie Perry.
What got you into fashion?
I studied Art Textiles at school and there were a lot of opportunities to develop projects into fashion pieces. I must have had a fascination for small objects as all of my work resulted in me creating jewellery. I didn’t even know you could be a Jewellery Designer until I was choosing my A-levels and started to think about what I really wanted do with my career. I went on to study Jewellery & Accessories at Middlesex University and it all started from there!
Describe your style of design in three words:
Ethereal, precious, imperfect
What does being ethical and sustainable mean to you and why are they important values?
To me, being sustainable means being conscious of what you’re buying and taking the time to think about how this could impact people and the environment throughout the supply chain. Sustainability is a growing issue in many industries but fashion is one of the main industries concerned with unethical practices, so I wanted to make my contribution to this change when starting the brand. During a press day in London in 2015, I heard Ugandan Miner, Josephine Aguti speak about how she and Fairtrade were working together to improve the working conditions in her mine. Through Fairtrade, Josephine and her colleagues received proper health and safety equipment and education. Josephine also told us about some of the harsh chemicals which were used in mining, which she and her colleagues didn’t realise were putting the lives and health of their children at serious risk. Once I heard about the life-changing impact Fairtrade had for her and the community around her, I knew this was the only way forward for Natalie Perry Jewellery. Not many people really know the dangers in mining but when you hear it first hand, you can’t ignore it.
Tell me about the inspiration and themes behind your debut collection, Floral Fragments.
The collection is inspired by the disintegrating murals from the ancient Indian palaces I visited whilst working as a jewellery designer in Jaipur. In particular the Rani Mahal in Bundi, which was once a palace for the wives and mistresses of the original rulers but is now isolated and overrun with wild monkeys. The palace is crumbling and with this the paintings are chipped and peeling. This imperfection is beautiful - it tells a story of the palace’s past grandeur and opulence which has now faded. I’ve conveyed this through broken floral, mandala patterns, referencing themes of disintegration and decay.
What’s your favourite piece in your current collection?
My favourite piece is the Gemstone Flower straight ear jackets (seen below) as they’re so versatile - you can mix up your look by wearing the ear jackets with different studs or just one as a single earring to tap into the asymmetric earring trend.
What’s the story behind Natalie Perry? Where and why did it start?
It’s been a long journey to get to having my own brand and I’ve done many things to build enough skills and knowledge to have the confidence to start it! As I mentioned before, I graduated from Middlesex University with a BA in Jewellery & Accessories in 2014, having spent a sandwich year working for numerous jewellery companies. This included designing traditional wedding jewellery called Kundan Meena jewellery in India, which formed the basis of my graduate collection and also developed into the most recent Floral Fragments collection; assisting fine jewellery designer Alice Cicolini for over a year; and working as a technical assistant for a leading British jewellery manufacturing company to improve my jewellery making skills. When I left university I wasn’t sure what direction to take with my career so I started to work in jewellery PR, which gave me an insight into the media and the promotional side of business. After two years in PR I really started to miss being creative and so I made one of the hardest and scariest decisions of my life, to quit my job, go travelling and start my business! Thankfully, I’ve not looked back and with the support and guidance of my colleagues at my previous PR agency, I had the opportunity to do London Fashion Week which is where my debut collection launched. Since the launch I’ve been so thankful to have had a great reaction to the collection and was so excited to win Professional Jeweller’s Ethical Collection of the Year at the end of 2017.
Describe a typical wearer of Natalie Perry Jewellery.
Natalie Perry jewellery is for the modern woman - an intelligent world traveller who knows her style and makes conscious decisions about what she purchases. She is interested in sustainability, Fairtrade and humanitarian causes, and makes a statement with the little details. She sees clothes and jewellery as art and chooses items that are beautifully crafted, timeless and will be cherished for life, rather than following trends. Her jewellery is selected not only for its aesthetic but for the concept and meaning behind it which adds to its preciousness and heirloom status.
Where do you generally find inspiration?
I always find inspiration when I travel, through nature, architecture - particularly abandoned buildings - hand-crafted items and found objects. I love to uncover the stories and history behind my inspirations to get an idea of how they have made a mark in human history - I’d say, I’m drawn to anything anthropological with a sense of nostalgia. I hope to tell tales of faraway cultures within my pieces.
Do you have any role models and or influences? And how have they impacted your work?
Yes, its has to be Alice Cicolini. I was drawn to her designs as she works with Indian craftsmen to create Kundan Meena style jewellery which is the same style I was designing during my time working in India. The strong emphasis on craftsmanship, history and heritage that Alice has is also a huge focus of mine when creating jewellery, so since my time working with her, she’s been a huge inspiration to me.
What can we expect of Natalie Perry over the next few years?
My main focus is to grow the brand to be internationally recognised for stylish jewellery with an ethical stance. I hope to have my jewellery stocked in leading luxury retailers and to expand my collections, introducing some silver designs also. A personal goal of mine would be to visit the Fairtrade mine in Peru where my gold is from, to better understand how my gold is mined and to see how Fairtrade is helping to improve the lives of the miners. I think experiencing this in person would be very humbling.