We are giving you the chance to win a pair of the gorgeous Lao Studs in rose gold. details on how to win are at the bottom of the post.
CREATING ELEGANT AND STYLISH JEWELLERY INSPIRED BY TRAVELS
Zefyr Jewels was born out of Tanya Coelho’s need to design and create beautiful jewellery with ethics and sustainability at its core. Her designs – and in fact, her love for the craft itself – are rooted in her family history. One of her grandfathers was a cabinetmaker, the other one was a metalworker, and her grandmother was a tailor. She attributes Zefyr Jewels qualities of beauty, heart and travel to her Portuguese heritage and its “seafaring romantics”.
How did you come up with the idea for Zefyr?
I worked in the mainstream jewellery industry for many years as a jeweller and designer. I saw huge amounts of waste and unethical practices during this time which left me feeling despondent. I actually considered for a while on giving up being a jeweller. Instead I decided to go out on my own and do things differently.
When did you realise ‘hey, this thing can really take off’?
I’ve always designed jewellery that I want to wear so had no idea if other people would like it, too. I remember sitting at my very first market stall all those years ago and being so nervous. I knew things would turn out ok by all the positive reactions my jewels received. Haven’t looked back since.
How did you sell your idea to the family and friends around you?
I didn’t! I just went ahead and did it. I’m famously stubborn and determined so when I decide to do something I go for it. I tend not to look for approval from others, it’s actually my own inner vision that I’m always working towards achieving. I’m actually my own harshest critic – something I think is true for most designers and entrepreneurs.
What were some of the initial obstacles you faced?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease when I came home to Australia and just before I started my business. I knocked me for six and it’s been a long hard path to wellness. It can be really tough running a business while also managing a chronic illness. Thank goodness I have the most amazing husband in the world who helps out in a thousand ways.
Did you need a lot of funding to get it off the ground?
Not at all! I had saved up while I was working in the UK to fund the start of my business, however, when I got home and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease I got really sick and all my savings went on keeping me well while I recovered. Luckily I was able to apply for the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) program, which helped fund my first year of business.
What is your brand philosophy?
Beauty is at the heart of Zefyr. Zefyr aims to create beautiful jewellery in beautiful ways that keep the earth and its people beautiful. We make jewellery that makes the wearer feel beautiful. We want the whole world to be filled with beauty.
What makes Zefyr stand out from everything else out there?
All my designs come from my crazy imagination and brain, and no else has my imagination but me!
Why did you choose to work with silver?
I initially began Zefyr working exclusively with recycled brass but realised that brass costume jewellery has an expiry date. I want my jewellery to last for generations and be passed on. I don’t want any of my creations to end up in landfill so the changeover to recycled silver was an organic decision.
Where do you source your silver and natural crystals?
Our recycled silver is sourced from factory offcuts and scrap. I source our ethically cut natural crystals from Jaipur. I love visiting the colourful and vibrant city of Jaipur when I choose the crystals.
Can you give us a specific piece that you created based on inspiration from your travels?
Almost every piece I create has its roots in my travels. I actually don’t take photos when I travel, instead I sketch and design. Each piece is really a postcard from my travels. My last Monsoon collection was inspired by my travels to Laos. I stayed with some Hmong hill tribe people in the north and the beautiful geometric embroidery of the women inspired the entire collection.
What are your thoughts on an increasingly common move towards conscious consumerism by companies, especially big ones?
My thoughts are “Yay!” It’s been a long time coming. Consumers are generally much more educated and they care so the move by the big companies to working with more awareness has been really driven by a grassroots movement. This has been a really positive change recently and I’m so happy to be able to witness it. We still have a long way to go but we’re moving in the right direction.
Can you tell us more about the people who work along your supply chain and how you make sure they have a fair working environment?
I actually visit our artisans who are based in Jaipur personally who hand cut our natural crystals to ensure that have safe working conditions. Our artisans have free transportation to work, free training programs, and free health checks. They also have access to safe drinking water.
What do you think is the greatest challenge people face when trying to buy ethically?
Choice! It can be surprisingly hard to unearth stylish ethical products here in Australia. I often have to hunt for hours online before I can find that perfect pair of ethical sustainable boots and often the shipping is exorbitant because the company is located in Europe or North America.
What advice would you give to people who are new to ethical shopping and who are generally curious about green living?
I would tell them that ethical products have undergone a huge revolution. The old cliche of hempy hippy is a thing of the past. You can now buy elegant and stylish products that both ethical and beautiful.