Dainty, minimalist jewellery can become the ultimate keepsake in one’s life. We all possess that one small accessory that we can’t leave the house without in the morning and send our hearts into a flurry of anxiousness when you can’t seem to find it. Be it a ring, a bracelet or a set of earrings, it may mean the world to you or just seem to suit any outfit assembled.
Bec Cullen is an Adelaide-based creative that makes this kind of keepsake through her jewellery label, Love Your Tribe. She’s crafted a life where she’s able to regularly offload her creativity into a skill set that produces this very special kind of fine jewellery.
“I’ve always been quite creative, studying a Visual Arts degree at university straight after high school,” Bec says. “Jewellery always interested me, and I’ve always regretted not choosing it as my major or minor. I completed my honours in photography and then went on to study secondary teaching.”
On the side of juggling her career as a high school teacher as well as being a new mum, Bec creates fine jewellery that has a bohemian aesthetic for the modern woman, while still staying true to the ocean, beachside vibe. all the pieces are ecologically sustainable and feature charms handmade by a Karen tribe in Thailand.
It is a passion that has stayed with her since university, which she even passes on through her teaching job. “I decided to start teaching jewellery making to my students and so I took a few different classes to gain the technical know-how and ideas to help create a course that would inspire them to create pieces that interested them,” she says.
“Now I’m 32, married and a mum, I decided to take a leap into the unknown and place my pieces and ideas out into the public after many friends suggested I should.”
We sit down with Bec to learn more about Love Your Tribe, how each piece is individual to itself and the true reason why she started her label.
How important is it to you that your customer has a connection with the jewellery you sell?
It is extremely important to me that my customers feel connected to my work. Each piece is handcrafted and has its own personality – no two pieces are the same, even down to slight variations of patterns and colour. I like to think that each piece has its own character and when a customer purchases a Love Your Tribe piece I hope that character appeals to them.
Where does the inspiration for your creations come from?
My inspiration comes mostly from the natural world, from adding feathers, dandelion seeds or leaf skeletons down to the colours I use. Sometimes, we just have to stop, look and listen to appreciate what we have around us, whether it’s a beach, trees or even flowers growing in a park surrounded by high rise buildings.
What materials do you use for your work and are you passionate about any medium in particular?
Currently, I am using eco-friendly resin which is made using renewable resources. Nature is my inspiration and I’m very enthusiastic about preserving it, so I want to make sure my products are as friendly to the environment as possible. I also purchase charms that are made by the Karen hill tribes in Thailand. The Karen use traditional silver smithing techniques on pure silver (97-99% silver content, sterling has 95%) which means each charm is handcrafted and has been made with care. I love the idea that each piece is made individually and is somehow keeping these beautiful old traditions alive. It is also important to me that my pieces are giving back to a community, such as the Karen people allowing them to continue to live their traditional lifestyle.
You have said in the past that when you had your baby girl you wanted a personalised necklace but couldn’t find one! Would Love Your Tribe be here if it, essentially, wasn’t for her existence?
I would say probably not. It was because of the birth of my daughter that I started to experiment with different styles my own personalised necklace. Once I started, I had so many different ideas and I wanted to create them. I showed them to my friends to see what they thought because, honestly, I was pretty proud of them [the pieces of jewellery]. My friends support and enthusiasm towards what I had put together inspired me further and made me want to create for them. My baby girl has brought me so much joy and her birth has also given me the confidence to follow my heart and push myself outside my comfort zone.
Finally, what is your dream jeweled purchase?
I have never been one to love a lot of bling and only as I have got older have I started to appreciate diamonds. I have always been drawn to traditional styled jewels and find I’m always wanting to purchase more silver, beaded necklaces, anklets or large silver rings. My ultimate, and dream purchase would to be own a traditional silver piece, one that is handmade with gorgeous embellishments and intricate patterning that has some sort of history or story to tell. So, I would probably find myself swooning over traditional Tribal or ethnic jewellery. Ideally, I would love to be able to witness the jewels being made. I believe understanding and watching the making process is just as important styling the piece.
Images via Bec Cullen, Love Your Tribe and Jordan Manhall (@jordaaaan_)