Carolyn K is the brains and talent behind the Singapore-based artisanal jewelry line Carrie K. The once advertising executive took a leap of faith in 2009 to pursue her passion in jewelry as a career and hasn’t looked back since. The creative force behind Carrie K tells us about her journey and her inspirations.
You were first in the world of advertising. Jewelry making is such a departure from that. Can you explain what drove you to you to pursue jewelry making?
My journey of learning to silversmith in Florence was a happy accident. In 2008 I decided to go on a year-long sabbatical from the corporate race to do all the things I had promised myself I would do “one day”. While in Florence, I met a silversmith who taught me how to make jewelry. I was in my teacher’s workshop putting the final touches on the first ring I had created. The rain had just stopped and the sun shined through the window as I looked up at my work. I had this overwhelming sense of happiness and I knew then that I wanted to be a silversmith and jewelry designer. And from there, Carrie K. was born in July 2009.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking for a career change, but might not know exactly what it is that they are seeking?
Do what you are passionate about. When you follow your passion, it won’t feel like work at all.
Your studio and work is based in Singapore. Tell us about your relationship with the area and the community there.
Having participated in a number of international fashion weeks, like New York and Paris, I noticed that Singapore designers are beginning to make in-roads internationally. Ironically, many of these designers are not known in Singapore. Hence I started Keepers, a quarterly independent showcase of designers and artisans, in 2011. Our goal was to grow an appreciation and value for artisan craftsmanship and unique, original designs by independent designers.
I started the showcase for guests to meet with designers and craftsmen to understand the craft and hopefully then grow an appreciation for what we do. My experience in Florence made me realize that being able to see how things are made gave people a deeper respect for the work of the craftsmen and they valued those pieces more. That was what I wanted to replicate with Keepers.
In 2014, it grew into a 4,200 sq. ft. pop-up in the heart of Orchard Road featuring over 100 specially selected designers from diverse disciplines, from fashion to furniture to art.
Are there specific things that continue to inspire your work?
All our designs are inspired by stories that are meaningful to me. Some are a little more tongue-in-cheek. I think that life’s a little too serious, so we try to inject a bit of playful magic into people’s lives.
Many of our themes center around celebrating the beauty of imperfection, spotlighting the mundane in the everyday and challenging society’s preconceived ideas about what’s important in life.
In terms of specific collections, I really love the Morse Code collection. It’s so unique. What inspired this collection?
Personalized jewelry with words that are meaningful to individuals is very popular. I was fascinated by the idea of showing the world your little secret, but with only those in the know understanding its meaning. It’s nice to be able to keep a secret in this social age where everything is shared with everyone.
We launched with a series of rings. Each ring features a letter in Morse code made of diamond dots and dashes. You can mix regular and midi-ring sizes so you can wear one simple alphabet or a collection of alphabets on each hand to make up initials or words. We will be launching the Morse Bling earrings next.
Can you tell us about your upcoming collaboration with Disney based on Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass?
When Disney approached us to work together late last year, it was a dream come true because the Carrie K family are all little children at heart. We love storytelling and it’s such a perfect fit with Disney.
Our favorite tale is Alice in Wonderland and coincidently, Disney was releasing the second story Alice Through the Looking Glass. We decided to develop two collections inspired by Alice Through the looking Glass and we have timed the release of our collection with the Asia launch of Disney’s new movie.
The first collection, Key Hole is a reflection of the key theme of this second book, which talks about Perspective. The Key Hole collection is designed so you can only see the shape of the keyhole as a certain perspective. This collection consists of hoop earrings, a ring, a choker that can be worn two ways, and DRINK ME straws made of silver.
The Time collection focuses on a key character of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass movie – TIME. This collection features gears as the key visual icon reimagined into a ring, a necklace, lariat and two earring designs. There will also be limited-edition statement neckpieces and bracelets. All the individually handcrafted pieces are made of silver and semi-precious gems like citron and garnets. They also come plated with 14K gold.
If a woman were only able to wear one piece of jewelry, what would you say is the most important piece, and why?
Jewelry is so personal, so I’d say that it has to be the piece that you feel incomplete without. For me, it’s always the piece that has an important story attached to it. My special pieces are my Morse Bling rings. I wear four on my right hand and never take them off, as they are the first letters of the names of my husband, our two dogs and myself. These were the first Morse Bling rings my husband made when I came up with the idea. My husband is our head jeweler, which is very handy!
Is there anyone you dream of one day designing jewelry for?
I designed the gold Gender Bender bow tie with Ryan Gosling in mind. That dream is still very much alive. The bow tie is made of silver plated with 14K gold. It is the size of a silk bow tie but it weighs less than a teaspoon. The Gender Bender collection is all about erasing preconceived gender expectations. So this collection borrows something from the guys – the bow tie, and immortalized in silver, it can now be worn by both gents and ladies. The collection also borrows the shape of the diamond, which is a girl’s best friend, reimagined into cufflinks for the guys.