Meet our new guest brand, conscious jewellery studio, Dear Rae
This spring we are welcoming Cape Town jewellery studio, Dear Rae to HADEDA as our guest - you can now browse and purchase a beautiful edit of their consciously made jewellery direct from our website, all hand-crafted from recycled metals and sustainably sourced stones.
To celebrate the launch we have interviewed founder, Karin Rae on the ethical ethos behind the brand and the inspiration she draws from her Cape Town home...
Tell us about your background as a designer and how the seed of Dear Rae was sown...
I was first introduced to the wonder of working with metal by my father, who made jewellery as a hobby and had a bench at home. I clearly remember the day that he showed me how to use his bench tools, he let me saw out a shape from a sheet of brass and I was instantly hooked, I must have been about ten years old. After school I went on to study Jewellery Design at Stellenbosch University, in my third year I was lucky enough to participate in an exchange semester at a partnering university in Germany, this experience really challenged my perspective on design and production. It gave me new insight into the raw creativity and beautiful nature that surrounds us in South Africa. I realised then that I wanted to start Dear Rae as a platform to celebrate this creativity and to create a space that could empower and employ local South Africans. Dear Rae was founded in 2010, a year after my return.
Describe the Dear Rae aesthetic to HADEDA customers
Dear Rae pieces are made up with simple shapes and lines that are inspired by my natural surroundings. I hope to create pieces that hold a balance of imperfect elements with well-considered structure, allowing the wearer to enjoy their pieces as everyday treasures that may suit any occasion. We have always only worked in solid precious metals with the intention to add a quality of timelessness to our pieces.
Where do you go for inspiration in Cape Town?
Most of my visual inspiration comes from the natural world, living in South Africa means that I am surrounded by natural environments filled with biodiversity.
I usually start a new range after being inspired by an experience or thought, I then follow the thread that normally leads me to a narrative and so my process begins with a play of images, colours and shapes that later get translated into metal and gemstones.
Who makes the Dear Rae designs?
I design and make the first pieces in the new ranges. I then teach my workshop team to manufacture each piece, they then take over the full production. Every piece is made in our workshop in Cape Town.
Why is it important to you to create and produce consciously as a jewellery brand?
I am very aware of the impact that we all make on the earth by consuming more than we need. Jewellery is a complete luxury and therefore it is very important to me that the whole process is done with care and consideration to try and add value to communities where possible. My aim is to create a company culture that empowers people with diverse backgrounds to lead a balanced and fulfilled life.
It has been so rewarding to see how my team has developed and grown over the past ten years. We have also made clear decisions to use recycled metal, earth-friendly products and give back 5% of our profits to charities that we support.
How do you source your stones in an ethical way?
To be honest, it is very tricky to know the whole process of a stone from mine to finish. That being said, we do buy precious stones from certified dealers and work with some local stone dealers who do their own cutting.
What other production methods do you use to improve sustainability?
We allow our customers in South Africa to hand in their old gold that they would like to reuse towards a new jewellery piece. We recycle all the metals that are left over from our production. We do not use any harsh chemicals and have an all round strict recycling process in place. All our packaging is reusable or recyclable.
Tell us about the local initiatives you are involved in, in Cape Town
We support three local NGOs; I AM WATER facilitate physical and emotional connections to the aquatic environment
, to build understanding of the interdependence of healthy humans and healthy oceans, and to influence behaviours to protect our global seas. They are especially passionate about working with underprivileged coastal communities where, despite living within walking distance of the shoreline, they often find young people who have never seen the world just beneath the waves. 5% of all profits from the ‘Ode to the Ocean’ collection goes to I AM WATER.
We also support the Umthunzi Farming Community which creates empowering economic opportunities for small-scale farmers. They have a strong vision to ensure a food system where these farmers are key contributors - resulting in nourishing food, job creation and healthy prosperous communities.
5% of all profits from the ‘of Earth’
collection goes to the Umthunzi Farming Community
Finally, we also support Breadline Africa - who provide initiatives and infrastructure to support childhood development in Southern Africa through early childhood education. They convert shipping containers into classrooms, libraries, kitchens and toilet units, to provide thousands of children with the opportunity to escape poverty through education. Their primary goal is to not only help children do better in school by ensuring that they have safer spaces to learn in, but also by implementing feeding programmes in poor communities to alleviate hunger. They currently support over 49 projects and have delivered over 1 million meals. 5% of all profits from ‘The Classic Capsule’ and ' Lucy in the Sky' collection go to Breadline Africa.
How do you want women to feel when they wear your pieces?
I want women to feel a sense of confidence and satisfaction when they wear Dear Rae. We are so often pressured to keep up with new seasonal fashion trends, I would prefer for our customers to feel that they can wear their pieces for many years to come and that they have invested in a piece that they can wear everyday due to the craftsmanship and quality of solid silver or gold. I also want women to feel empowered by the story that Dear Rae holds of celebrating raw and authentic beauty.
What does 2021 hold for Dear Rae?
It has been a challenging and expansive time for Dear Rae, we have grown from being a South African brand only, to setting up a new base in the UK. We hope that this will allow us to reach an international market that will help develop our production in South Africa. Like with any new venture, we know that we will need lots of courage and creativity to see it through but we are already enjoying the new connections and collaborations that have come from it - Hadeda being one of them!