After leaving his corporate job in his home country of Turkey, Alpay Turfan moved the UK to follow his dream. In 2012, he founded Latelita London. The brand fuses Eastern influences with contemporary European design, resulting in a vibrant collection of unique and opulent statement jewellery.
Over the past four years, Latelita has grown into an established and widely recognised British jewellery brand. We have a chat with Alpay about his journey as a designer and what the future holds for his brand.
When did you fall in love with jewellery?
“My first romance with jewellery started many years ago back in my home country, Turkey. I come from an artistic background; my father was a painter and my mother was very into jewellery. So, I think they had the right kind of influence on me.”
How has your childhood influenced your journey as a designer?
“I grew up in Istanbul. There are so many significant people in my life that I wouldn't want to single one out. They are all very special and each contributed to who I am now. I guess Istanbul as a city has contributed to my work with its influences.”
"After secretly scribbling designs at the back of my notebook during soul stealing meetings, I decided to make a life changing decision"
How did you get into the jewellery industry?
“I received a very formal engineering degree, but my passion for jewellery has always been hidden somewhere deep inside. I started out learning traditional jewellery design in a small atelier in Istanbul. My teachers were the artisans who were trained by their own family members. This gave me access to family traditions and methods usually passed down from generation to generation. After years of working in the corporate world, and secretly scribbling designs at the back of my notebook during soul stealing meetings, I decided to make a life-changing decision; I moved to the United Kingdom, leaving my career behind to pursue my passion. At first it sounded totally insane to my friends and family however, in the long run it felt very liberating.”
Why did you start your own jewellery line?
“I believe success comes when you passionately love the work you do. Therefore, it was the inevitable thing for me to do after giving up on my professional career. Making a living on something which you create is quite satisfying in many ways.”
“I’m never without my sketch book which means I’m not confined to four walls. Inspiration can form in the most unlikely of places which means I’m always ready to jot down ideas and concepts."
Where do you create your best work?
“I’m never without my sketch book which means I’m not confined to four walls. Inspiration can form in the most unlikely of places which means I’m always ready to jot down ideas and concepts. I am inspired by almost anything I see on my travels. It can be a small bee in the park or a beautiful motif on a silk carpet. I am working with a team of fine artisans in my atelier in Turkey to bring my designs to life.”
What are your key brand values?
“Being ethical in sourcing materials is very important to us. We ensure all of our stingray leather and gemstones are sustainably sourced.”
How do you source your gemstones?
“I often pick up gemstones whilst on my travels. Sometimes a gemstone calls to you, whether it’s a fabulous pattern or striking colour. This has led me to design many one-off statement pieces.”
"Always follow you gut instinct, more often than not it will serve you well.”
What has been the high point of 2016?
“This year has seen us nominated as a Brand to Watch at the UK Jewellery Awards and an upcoming finalist for Professional Jeweller’s Collections of the Year 2016.”
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your jewellery?
“Our aim has always been to empower women. Whether looking for a delicate necklace to wear to the office, or a statement earring for a dramatic evening look, the Latelita woman wears the jewellery, not the jewellery wears her.”
What does the future hold for Latelita London?
“I’m proud of everything I have achieved but I am never complacent. We are a boutique jewellery label and wish to remain so. We love pushing the boundaries of design and strive to create timeless statement pieces that will be treasured for years to come. I don’t believe you can ever arrive in terms of creativity and in the future, I would love to collaborate with other designers and artists. Always follow you gut instinct, more often than not it will serve you well.”
Latelita London's collection is available to shop on Jewelstreet here.