Based in London, Charlie Clea Silk is the gorgeous mama boss behind CLEA SILK Jewellery.
She has two young daughters aged 3 and 6 and as we sit down for a cup of tea together for this interview, we immediately start talking children and schools and hard mama days that we have got to just grin and bear while juggling are own businesses. Charlie is warm and passionate about life. I have just met her but she is instantly open and immediately tells me about her PND battles after both her two girls.
She’s brought some jewellery along to show me and it’s currently sitting in front of me packaged up. As I un-pack the boxes, it feels like my birthday, purely because I know already whats in store and that I like them very much! I had, had a preconception of CLEA SILK through Charlie’s website of it being chunky jewellery, perfect for summer, but instead I am positively surprised at how elegant and delicate her jewellery is.
What inspired you to start jewellery making?
I know it sounds cheesy but I have always loved jewellery, I am a complete magpie (I did consider calling the brand that) all that glitters…I think I used to be quite body conscious, I still am, much like all of us, especially after the kiddies! So as I was not really into bright clothes and mini skirts (it was the 90’s so more baggy jumpers and DM boots) I was all about the accessories, scarfs and primarily jewellery, the joy being one size fits all. As I got older I often would get comments about pieces I was wearing and where I got them from. I thought maybe I could do something with this…
You founded Clea Silk 6 years ago… you stopped and started during maternity leave…what has made you go full time with it now?
I was quite naive at the start and I first began with the idea of finding designers abroad to sell in one place so headed over to a trade show in Bangkok, it was quite overwhelming to say the least but I sourced some beautiful silver from Chiang Mai and a designer from Japan but there were also designs that I wanted to make myself so I found a lovely jeweller in the UK to help me have these made in London (Hatton Garden). I was working in events full time so I began by having private sales and doing fairs and as I got a better understanding I realised there was a lot of it I could do myself so I learnt how to do the wire work (it is amazing what you can learn on you tube!) I built the website and then had my first little girl! I went back to work for a year when my daughter was a year old and then decided I should give it a go full time. I knew we would try for a 2nd and it seemed the natural course to have more flexibility and to do something I love!
You’re very honest and a breath of fresh air when you easily admit that you suffered from PND both times after the birth of your two girls. Did Jewellery making help you relax?
Yes unfortunately I had Post natal depression after both my girls. It hit me like a train: one moment I was fine, the next something was seriously not right! Although it was pretty scary, in hindsight it meant I got help straightaway, anti-depressants and cognitive behavioural therapy worked wonders for me, but it did take a good 6 months after my first for me to feel like i’d come out the other side.
What really helped me deep down though, was the jewellery making. I found it very therapeutic and it helped me deal with my repetitive thoughts anxiety as it allowed me to escape from my subconscious thoughts and immerse myself into creating something.
It was always a possibility I would get PND again, which I did, but thank the lucky stars that I have wonderful family and friends who helped me through it all over again. You just don’t realise how our hormones affect our bodies and minds after babies but at the end of the day I have 2 beautiful girls to show for it.
Is there one design of necklace or bracelet that means a lot to you and why?
Being a magpie this is always changing but I do love my stars and moon lariat. I feel it really represents my brand with its unique style and versatility (it can be worn long or short as it is one long chain and can be worn as a bracelet too) the night sky is the most enchanting, unknown and magical force in our world, moon cycles and the power of the stars have symbolised wonder, dreams and inspiration forever. It really encapsulates the belief that jewellery should have a story and meaning for those who wear it.
A lot of your jewellery features stones. Tell me a bit about your passion for this and how it started?
We have a family home in Ibiza… a magical island that I’ve frequented since I was 14 years old! This is where my love of stones began. Whenever I put on a chunk of turquoise it immediately takes me to the sea and sun. The island has always had a very holistic approach to life and the idea that stones can give us strength, energy, and protection.
What are your plans for Clea Silk in the next year or so?
Moving forward I would like to build on the Clea Silk collection and brand. I sell my jewellery in Ibiza at La Galeria Elefante but I am keen to increase my presence online and with retailers in the UK. Eventually I would like to create a fine jewellery line using precious metals and stones.
If you could choose someone famous, dead or alive, to wear your jewellery, who would it be and why?
Frida Kahlo, I love her strength through adversity, her style, her art. She is a true female icon.