Jewelry designer Sophie Monet and retailer Rena Sala on shared values, sustainability and their kinship as brand and retailer.
Talking to Sophie Monet:
Sophie, please tell us about wood! What you use, where it comes from and why you use it.
– I love working with wood because it comes naturally to me. I grew up around a woodshop watching my dad build large scale sculptures. I’m always incorporating his scrap pieces of wood into my designs and using what’s available to me at that time. There is a huge variety of wood that I use from local blonde wood like maple and pine to bold exotic wood, like mahogany and ebony.
When did you meet Rena Sala? What struck you as some of your shared values?
– I met Rena over email when she first started her website and later in Los Angeles during a visit. I felt an instant personal connection with her. It was like meeting an old friend. We instantly started talking about our background in jewelry, travel, and family! We both have a deep personal appreciation of handmade jewelry and what goes into creating a special body of work, curating a platform and expressing a message through design. She has an amazing aesthetic and eye, and I really value that.
How is your workmanship influenced by your desire to be mindful?
– Because I work with my hands, being mindful of the materials I use is very important to me. We use and save every little piece of wood around us to create as little waste as possible. I chose to work in this material because of its ancient roots, yet it feels like I’m developing new techniques and skills to create something unique and one of a kind for people to hold onto for generations.
Talking to Rena Sala:
Beyond clean lines, good quality materials and thoughtful design, tell us more about the qualities you look for that help make the Rena Sala curation so on-point?
– When seeking out new designers for the site, I look for those who share a similar aesthetic and who will compliment the others in the shop. I want the designers we work with to be proud of their work sitting alongside their contemporaries. Aside from aesthetics, we look for brands or designers who value a handcrafted approach to their making – whether they are making the pieces themselves or sourcing it out to small local factories. I have always felt that a handcrafted product holds more value and I hope our customers appreciate this as well.
When did you discover Sophie Monet? What struck you as some of your shared values?
– I discovered Sophie Monet’s work a few months before launching the shop and got in touch with her right away to see if she would be interested in working with us. I loved that she was using a different material than would usually be associated with jewellery, and that all pieces are handcrafted on site in her Venice, CA, workshop. She also has a great story, which I came to discover on one of my visits to her workshop – that she shares it with her father who is a very talented artist who also works with wood, and this is where her fascination with the craft first began. Lastly, she is just an amazing woman! She’s found her niche and she’s owning it.
How do you help cultivate small producers for long term success? What leaf can other businesses take from your book?
– Prior to launching the store in August 2017, I had a PR company for 6 years and worked with many small and successful brands / designers, some of whom are now represented on the shop. Many of them worked on their own, or with very small teams, so you learn their constraints and how to work around them. It’s the same with the store now. They may have longer lead times for production (for example) but you learn their rhythms. Knowing that the big retailers work mostly on a seasonal schedule, I try to be a bit more flexible and will release new collections throughout the season. Most importantly showing confidence in the product is key so we do not believe in ‘sale or return’ (consignment) – we make small orders and will restock when needed which is easier on the designer and sustainable for our business.
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