In the midst of the Bicester Village ‘Celebrating India’ pop-up, The Sybarite speaks exclusively to ethical jeweller, Pippa Small, on her sustainability standards and her royal admirers.
When did you know you wanted to start a jewellery line based on ethical consumption?
The two go hand in hand; I come from a background in anthropology and have a masters in medical anthropology and human rights. I suppose I’ve been stringing things and beads my wrists for years, an almost-jewellery designer from a young age. When I started working in Borneo, I started working with NGO’s with human rights. To come from a more human rights background really informs our brand ethos, we work very ethically and want to be assured that we have very transparent working relationships and to help people, from working with artisans from conflict areas from Afghanistan to help people who have been forced out of their home and to help them. What I think is really important is to help people live a more sustainable life and to feel proud of what they are creating and to help.
Where does the inspiration behind your brand come from?
It comes from nature; the universal language that always transcends culture, always drawing back to a country’s own origin and history, including all different ethnic groups. I visit a lot of museums and read photography books that draw from history.
How did you first get involved with communities in Borneo, Thailand and India?
From my studies and my parents and my mother who travelled a lot. I was very lucky to join her on her adventures to Tanzania or Turkey or Morocco, which was a huge influence on me and my life. I take my kids everywhere, I believe everyone should see the world and experience different cultures. My mother started the travel bug in me.
How do you find local artisans from all over the world?
It’s either people approach me with a project or just me being naturally curious, I worked with through my work with human rights, through the UN I got to meet a lot of indigenous people who are very strong in their self conviction and self determination – my interest lied in seeing their jewellery as a part of their identity and being different to the western world.
How would you describe your personal relationship to your jewellery?
Its deeply personal, I would imagine most designers design for themselves.
What are you most excited about for the Celebrating India pop-up opening in Bicester village?
I’m been working in India for 25 years and it’s such an endlessly exciting and dynamic country. I’m thrilled and to see Indian designers and creators who are finally being recognised for their skill set who are making it and twisting it to create something so beautiful. India’s over flowing with creativity and it’s wonderful to see it being championed by Bicester with all the different elements.
How have you received the Duchess of Sussex regal interest in your designs?
I’ve been absolutely overjoyed. It’s been the best gift ever to see her wearing our pieces, it’s opened the conversation about ethical consumption and her ability to reveal the power to bring it to the mainstream and raise awareness – her star power really knows no bounds.
How do you think the Duchess of Sussex is making a statement by wearing your jewellery?
Her choice of choosing ethical brands is definitely making a statement; to make them look young and contemporary, it is a deliberate decision.
Take a look at the Bicester Village ‘Celebrating India’ Pop-Up sale on now until 29th May.