In Conversation With … Charlotte Knapman
Supporting female-led small brands and businesses is something I am passionate about, and it’s a sentiment echoed by the eponymous Charlotte Knapman, founder of Charlotte Knapman Collections – original earrings designed in London and handcrafted in Cape Town. Using semiprecious gemstones and crystal beads from all over the world, colour is at the forefront of her designs, and she loves discovering new shades and hues, combined for perfect harmony or a deliberate clash. I caught up with Charlotte to talk about her beautiful and vibrant brand.
Can you tell us how it all began and what inspired you to become a jewellery designer?
I started Charlotte Knapman Collections nearly three years ago. It was born out of a desire to contribute to the family income, and also to satisfy a long held ambition to be involved in fashion. There were other things going on at the time that spurred me on to do it; my parents passing away and my youngest starting big school!
Can you remember the first piece or pieces you created professionally?
Yes – I went bold from the get-go. Big beads in bright oranges and turquoises from day one. But I think my style has become more refined and with a wider palette over time.
What is the most important and foremost element to consider when you start to design a piece?
Colour, current fashion trends and making sure my collection stays broad so that there is a style to suit everyone.
Where does the inspiration for your jewellery come from?
Africa! I was born in Zimbabwe and my mother was South African. All of my extended family live there. The beading in Africa is unbeatable.
What are your favourite colours to work with?
Bright colours – and especially ones that clash! Red and pink together look just fabulous, and this combo is one of my bestsellers.
One person you would most like to design some jewellery for?
I guess it’s got to be Catherine, Princess of Wales as she’s always a champion of small UK brands and she loves colour and jewellery!
Who has been your greatest professional inspiration?
The amazing group of fellow female founders of small businesses, who have encouraged me, given me advice and shared a glass of wine or two!
Biggest professional challenge?
Being a one-woman band. It’s hard finding the balance between work and family life, especially in the run up to Christmas, which is my busiest time!
It may sound a bit trite but I’d have to say my four children – after all, your children are your lasting legacy.
Do you have a favourite or sentimental piece of jewellery you wear every day?
Yes! I wear a simple gold ring on a necklace chain – when my parents died, my two sisters and I had their wedding bands melted and made into rings for each of us.
Is there just one piece of jewellery that can make an outfit?
Absolutely! First impressions count! And people usually (!) look at your face first – so a striking pair of statement earrings can make a real impact.
Is ‘less more’ when it comes to accessorising?
Yes. I would advise that people focus on one or two items to compliment an outfit rather than having the whole bag, shoe and jewellery combo to match! I do struggle with the colour blocking trend of wearing one colour from head to toe! People often ask whether to wear a necklace with my earrings and I tell them to keep the necklace simple if you want the earrings to have impact. In the evening, if I’m wearing my larger statement earrings, I often don’t wear a necklace.
Any considerations and tips you can share with us for selecting jewellery?
Think about the occasion – do you want to blend in or stand out! For example, some of my clients particularly enjoy wearing my bolder earrings on a day when they have lots of zoom calls as it’s one way that you can show off your individual style.
And finally, your favourite quote to live by?
I feel passionately about mindfulness and meditation. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle had a huge impact on me when I first read it, and I am also in awe of Edith Eger, author of The Choice and The Gift, so my quote to live by is:
“You can come to terms with what was and what wasn’t. And you can concentrate not on what you lost, but on what is left: the choice to live every moment as a gift, to embrace what is.” Edith Eger