Interview and Photos by Isabel Ulatowski
How did you find each other?
KW: We met at university and bonded over our love of the Maccabees. We just seemed to be drawn to each other in some way. We went to lots of gigs together and became best friends!
Did you both pursue your jewellery around the same time?
KW: I probably started before but it was more of a hobby. I never pursued it properly, I had a little online shop. It looked like Tetris, it was so old. I was working part time trying to buy all my equipment, it takes a lot of money to build a studio.
Katie, when did Crux develop?
KW: I was at university. We were in the recession at the time and job wise it seemed impossible to work for a company. People started to do their own thing, and so I came up with Crux and put it online.
Kirstie, were you faced with a similar scenario?
KM: We were at the same university, but my final collection was unwearable oversized textile pieces. So when I graduated, I was like ‘Right, I need to make some money’, and decided to start again and make a collection that was wearable. That took a while, and while I was doing that I was interning and working part time. I finally felt ready to launch it in 2013, I learned a lot from the first collection, and now I've just launched my second.
How did you discover Pärla?
KM: Instagram! When Erin first started the account I was like 'Who is this?' And then I noticed that Clarice [Price Thomas] and Jessie [Harris] were involved. I started following, and when the shop launched, I was like ‘Ooh!’ and pounced into the shop!
And now the two of you have created The Workbench London, which gives people the opportunity to create their own unique handcrafted jewellery that you professionally finish.
KW: We are about to celebrate our one year anniversary, its been a whirl wind! Its so fun to have this success together, and share the stress as well! We are totally there for each other for the highs and the lows. When you're on your own you internally go through the stresses and challenges, and then with The Workbench, its fine, we’re in it together.
KM: Its a confidence booster as well, to approach people and talk about things.
KW: People love the whole concept as well, carving your own ring at one of our events. We bring our personalities to the event and thats been a really warm thing. Some people are like ‘Shut up, what are these girls doing?’
How does it work?
KW: We work with a company in London who make temporary moulds of our wax that people have carved. They are then cast into silver and we do all of the filing and polishing ourselves.
KM: People assume they come back from casting and they are ready to go, but no, that is where we come in. We file and polish them up. Some people specify that they want matte rings, some people want polished rings, some people want little features enhanced in their ring. That is when the hard work starts, and our lives stop.
KW: But we do love it, and its that sense of achievement when all the rings are sent out. We get all the people Instagramming and hash tagging @theworkbenchldn. We get to see their reactions, we are there through the whole journey of that ring. Its really nice.
KM: The Workbench will be going on tour around the country next year, if you would like to request your local town!
How do you find working in the same space as separate designers?
KW: We are quite different in our design, but we hold the same kind of values, we are both from the same demographic and live in East London. We have things that we both really appreciate and see happening in fashion trends.
KM: Loads of our friends say ‘But aren't you technically each others competition?’ and we are but we don’t get competitive. Not a lot of people have a best friend that does the same thing as themselves, and it actually provides a lot of support in my career. Anytime we have low moments we have each other to talk to.
KW: And within the jewellery community, every one understands that you don’t see each other as competition, its more like ‘Wow, that is amazing, I need to buy that ring!’. Its a creative thing, because you'll never do the same thing, you'll always have your own take on it.
KM: I really love the designers Pärla stocks because I feel like a lot of them are at a similar age and stage in their life. I look to them as inspiration and I really respect them. Girl Power!
KW: We are from the Spice Girl generation, so we are all about Girl Power!
KM: Boys are allowed in as long as they're nice.