CRAFTING JEWELRY: INTERVIEW WITH TSHEPISO

Tshepiso is the namesake of the founder and metalsmith.

The focus is on crafting jewelry that is based on shapes derived from daily life, art and memories. the working process often consists of building up and stripping down work to reach a delicate balance of weight and shape. every piece of jewelry that is ordered, is handcrafted in the studio by tshepiso just for you, the handcrafted nature of Tshepiso makes every piece similar but unique in its slight differences and imperfections.

Tshepiso is handcrafted and designed by an individual, with all pieces being made to order. This does mean that working time is between 2-6 weeks for your jewelry to arrive, the wait however is worth it.

TSHEPISO

Tshepiso studied fine art and completed their degree at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, but has always had a keen interest in fashion. the venture into the jewelry field was a collision of their love for fashion and art. Tshepiso went on to graduate in 2019 from Alchimia contemporary jewelry school in Florence, Italy. 

INTERVIEW WITH TSHEPISO

Can you tell us a little about your childhood cultural background and when did you decide to become a jewelry designer?

I grew up in South Africa, in a relatively small city that didn’t have too much going on. We travelled a lot when I was growing up so I was exposed to a myriad cultures, people and places. It made me aware that the world is big place and you can do anything you want. My parents owned a shoe store so fashion was always a factor in my life, I initially wanted to be a fashion designer but the fashion scene in South Africa wasn’t what it is now so I pivoted and got more into fine art which I ultimately went into. There was always a part of me that wanted to get into the fashion world and jewellery was this perfect collision of art and fashion that made sense to pursue. 

We know your jewelry pieces are handcrafted and this is very important for a slow-fashion industry. Can you tell me how you decided on this approach and how many people are in your team?

We live in a time of immediacy and trends that are constantly changing and overproduction and overconsumption, I didn’t want to be a brand that constantly makes to appease trends. My team is just me so far because I love working with my hands and that means that every order is made with love and consciously by me. It makes every piece really special because I made it just for you. The process of sitting down and getting lost in what you’re making and seeing it take shape until finished is also really beautiful. 

What about education in the jewelry industry? Do you think is important before launching your own jewelry brand and why? 

I studied a BFA in Contemporary Jewellery and Jewellery Design because I had no clue about the process of making jewellery but it’s not a necessity to start a jewellery brand. That being said you need to know what direction you want your brand to go in, you can certainly have someone design and manufacture for you. I wanted to learn how to goldsmith and make everything by hand, there’s always something special about making pieces for people. I love the process of making, I’ve always loved working with my hands. 

Will there be any possibility in the future to see jewelry workshops in person or online with TSHEPISO? 

At some point I think I’d love to do a wax carving workshop, wax is super fun to work with and you can get really creative with it. It’s great for beginners that want to make jewellery as a hobby. 

How would you describe your style of jewelry and the women who buy them? 

My jewellery is certainly more on the alternative side,its heavy and bold. Whoever buys my jewellery is someone who likes unique handmade pieces and isn’t afraid to standout.

What’s your favorite place where you feel more inspired? 

That’s a tough question, I lived in Florence and its without a doubt such a beautiful, richly layered and historical city. However, Berlin is my favourite place, I love the grittiness and grime of it.I love more metropolitan cities because they’re always busy and you’ll always find some inspiration especially in the ugliness.

How challenging is the business part for a jewelry brand like yours?

Its tough when you’re a handmade and made to order business. Buyers want immediacy and pieces that are trendy and relatively cheap, my brand is none of those things.  It can be challenging when you’re competing with all these factors but all businesses take time unless you have a stroke of luck and become an overnight success.

What’s next for your brand? 

What’s next for Tshepiso is new pieces that are bigger, bolder, hopefully more gender neutral as well as body pieces and objects too. So lots to do but I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come. 

TSHEPISO

Creative Direction by Anthony Hinrichsen @antdane

Photographed by Armand Dicker @armanddicker

Photographic Assistant, Sibongile Mditshwa @sibo_mditshwa

Makeup by Amy-Louise Tourell @amylouise_makeup_ 

Hair by Patricia Ndeke & Mira Muamba @pkmamanbonheur

Nails by Matthew Green @nailsbymatthew_

Model is Yongama Mgqibela at Citizen at Boss Models @yongamamgqibela @bossmodelsa 

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