Murkani was founded by Australian designer Kiralee McNamara. After making jewellery out of craft clay and selling it to local shops, Kiralee decided to take the commercially safe route of marketing and management.
But after moving to Vietnam with her husband and 3 children she had time to pause, reflect and realise that jewellery design was her true calling in life and it was time to take the plunge. In 2011 she created her first collection, and her brand has gone from strength to strength ever since. We chat with Kiralee about taking the leap of faith, travelling for inspiration and why she is anti-fast fashion.
When did you discover your passion for jewellery?
“My journey to becoming a jewellery designer started aged 16 when I began making jewellery out of craft clay and selling it to local craft shops. I loved being creative outside of school hours and was thrilled when I sold some. I was accepted onto a Fine Arts degree but decided to follow a more commercial and safe route by completing a Business degree in Marketing. I was so worried that as a designer or artist, I would have trouble finding secure employment, which is a concern still shared by many young artists.”
How has your childhood influenced your designs?
“I grew up in a family of all females. I was heavily influenced by my mother as she was the one we depended on in the family. I think growing up without a father makes you very independent and driven; driven to create the life you want, which means the career of your choice but also the family you want.”
"To make this transition from the corporate world to a career based on my own designs took a big leap of faith."
What inspired you to create your own line of jewellery?
“After years of working in marketing and management roles, the call to design was still present. It was not until we moved to Vietnam for my husband’s job after having 3 children that I felt I had the time to pause, reflect and work out how I wanted to spend the rest of my working life. I was looking for a more creative life and still very drawn to drawing and jewellery design. So, I decided to pursue this and created my first collection in 2011 based on my love of Moroccan textile and tile design. I think starting something creative and trusting in my own design ability was the biggest hurdle for me. To make this transition from the corporate world to a career based on my own designs took a big leap of faith.”
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your designs?
“I would like them to feel confident in themselves and in the style impact that they make. That it fits with their self-expression and becomes part of them.”
"Whilst I love fashion and new styles, I love the idea of enduring style more"
Values are really important us at Jewelstreet. What are your core brand values?
“I believe in creating a more sustainable lifestyle by using natural materials that endure. I want my pieces to last a lifetime and I want the wearer to buy them as a lifetime purchase. Whilst I love fashion and new styles, I love the idea of enduring style more and buying pieces that are personal and can be worn forever. I am very anti-fast fashion as I don't want to contribute to landfill. My jewellery is handcrafted in Bali and Thailand by silversmiths using traditional and modern methods. I believe in paying people good salaries so they can live good lives and support their families. We only use workshops that do this and I spend a lot of time visiting the people who create my jewellery.”
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
“We travel a lot as a family and much of our recent travel has been driven by my desire to go to places that I know I'll be inspired by. I love the repetitive pattern in architecture, tiles and fabric, particularly the Moorish designs of ancient Morocco, Turkey, Southern Spain and Portugal. Much of my time on these trips is spent taking photos of patterns that I then reinterpret into jewellery designs in my home studio.”
"I love the repetitive pattern in architecture, tiles and fabric, particularly the Moorish designs of ancient Morocco, Turkey, Southern Spain and Portugal."
What has been the highest point of your career as a designer?
“Securing some of the best independent boutique retailers in Australia, ones that I admire for their styling and taste. To think they've specifically chosen my jewellery is very exciting. We've also been nominated for the InStyle Gala design awards too which was exciting, as the best Australian jewellery designer.”
"I would like to be involved with more programs to support disadvantaged women achieving their dreams of financial and family security and education."
What does the future hold for Murkani?
“I’m thrilled that people are loving my work and that my brand is growing both in Australia and now overseas. I’m so grateful that I have been able to follow a creative career path of my choice. How lucky is that?! And I’m so grateful that I can combine it with motherhood. It’s given me great flexibility which is so wonderful when you want to be truly present in your children's lives. As for the future, there’s always a new design or product in my mind and I'm continually creating new things and finding new inspiration in everything I see, experience and read. I’m really interested in being able to give back. Currently, I do this by working with and giving employment to family run businesses and artisans, but longer term I would like to be involved with more ground root programs to support disadvantaged women achieving their dreams of financial and family security and education.”
Murkani jewellery is available to shop on Jewelstreet here.