Introducing independent British jewellery designer Charlotte of Charlotte Garnett Jewellery Design in today's designer interview. Known in the industry as the “Anti-Anxiety Jeweller,” Charlotte tells us more about her core brand values and the one client interaction that has stuck with her the most!
How did your brand begin?
During my final year studying Jewellery Design at Central St. Martins I was searching for inspiration to fuel my final collection, but having recently been diagnosed with anxiety I was struggling to think of much else.
It was during a critique I had my eureka moment - "Why not lean into what is all-consuming in my life for inspiration? Why not try to help myself?" The huge wave of relief and ideas this notion bore made it such an obvious path for me to take, and with every design came more and more satisfaction, understanding, pride, and connection to the mental health community. Ever since I have been 'The Anti-Anxiety jeweller' and drawn from my lived experience to create pieces with the purpose to be worn with pride.
Values are really important to us at JewelStreet. What are your core brand values?
My core brand values are the destigmatisation of mental health discussions and pride in positive coping mechanisms. Useful, functional and wellbeing-based accessories should not have to compromise on desirability - Style and well-being do not have to be mutually exclusive! I value the sincerity at the core of my brand and imbue my personal passion into every design and into the creation of every piece.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
I primarily draw inspiration from my own lived experiences. my work is very autobiographical: from my own needs of living day-to-day with anxiety disorders to the stylistic inspiration from forms, I find in my travels. As I develop new collections I weave in the stories and experiences of my friends, customers and community - reflecting our shared experiences.
How are your products made?
I hand-make all my products using a mix of traditional and experimental techniques. I make every effort to reuse and recycle my materials whilst maintaining the utmost level of quality. For example, all the ebony wood I use is purchased as offcuts left over from the luxury furniture industry.
Have you won any awards for your work?
The Theo Fennell Technical Achievement Award, the Bright Young Gem Award, and most recently I was nominated for Professional Jeweller's Young Designer Of The Year Award 2022.
Can you recall a particular moment with a client that will stay with you forever? Could be a funny horror story or a fond memory.
A few times I've met lovely parents of young people who are really struggling with anxiety disorders and/or self-harm, and I have been able to have amazingly frank, honest and often fun conversations about mental health.
Sometimes I get to meet their kids too, and one girl, in particular, will always stay with me - she was so quiet and reserved as her mum asked me about life growing up with the same struggles as her and how I've got to where I am now. I just wanted her to feel less afraid and alone. I made her a Point ring - my bestselling ring, built to help with mental grounding and satiate self-harm urges. A few weeks later I got a long DM from her thanking me and telling me I had inspired her. I must admit, it made me cry with pride! It's a story that epitomises why I do what I do.
How do you want someone to feel when they wear/use your designs?
Comforted, calm and proud. Whatever someone may need a coping tool for, they should be assured they are not alone and that they deserve to have well-being tools that are desirable, stylish and luxurious!
Do you work with any charities?
Yes, I am currently an Ambassador for the Salvesen Mindroom Centre, an amazing charity that celebrates our differences and works to leave no mind behind. In the past, I also worked with the mental health charity Sane, and via my collaborative collection with Motley, we raised £10k for the charity.
Do you have any exciting future plans and where do you see your brand in 5 years?
I have some big things coming up! Following the success of my latest Pinnacle collection and fine jewellery private commissions, I am developing a range of fine jewellery pieces, creating some statement sculptural pieces with some gorgeous materials.
I'm also very excited to be speaking at the ITAKOM global conference as the ambassador for Salvesen Mindroom Centre in 2023, discussing my approach to object-handling therapy as a non-neurotypical artist. I love imagining where I might be in the future and who I might have the pleasure of working with - I look forward to growing and expanding so that I can keep broadening my connection with the mental health community and creating beautiful artistic pieces.
What music do you play in the studio whilst you’re working?
I am a dedicated 00's emo, so my studio sounds cathartic and loud! I created the Midnight Liquorice playlist with Visualist for some 'optimistic emo' bangers to work to, so you can listen along to my soundtrack on Spotify.
Who is your favourite artist?
Alex Pardee - he has an incredibly visceral and captivating graphic style. He's illustrated many of my favourite albums and can convey dark subjects in a beautiful and striking way. Jenny Saville is another artist I have always loved for making unabashed and masterful pieces that are arresting, uncomfortable and beautiful all at once.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Never start small. Always take the biggest and wildest iteration of your idea and refine it down. That comes from Shaun Leane.
If you could travel to one place in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Antarctica! I'm always going to want to go back, it's the most incredible and indescribable place I've ever been. Artistically, it's a huge playground of forms and textures that are ever-changing. Personally, it is just so peaceful. It's just so huge and natural, it made me feel like a little creature in the world in the best way - it just puts things in perspective.
What are your go-to style tips?
Please yourself! I wish I could go back and scream this at my 18-year-old self. Be wild and weird. Being yourself is FUN and your looks and body are not here for anyone else's pleasure, so dress to make yourself happy.
Wear fabrics that feel nice, wear colours that bring you joy and wear jewellery that makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Just have fun.
How do your brand values align with those of JewelStreet?
I really value working as a small artisanal brand and like working with companies that also value the care and craft that goes into the considerate design and handmaking of all my work to make completely unique and high-quality pieces.
More than anything, I value how my customers feel when they buy a Charlotte Garnett piece - I love the emphasis on personal customer service and the experience JewelStreet gives.
If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?
I'm going to cheat and say 2 - my Point ring and my Turn necklace. Since the day I made each of these I haven't taken them off. I use both of them subconsciously every day to focus, self-soothe and ground myself and they are extremely effective for me. I also love how they look with every outfit from hiking to the red carpet!
Thank you for talking with us Charlotte!