We wanted to introduce you to Uberkate, Australian hand crafted jewellery company by Kate Sutton.
Born in the 1920's in USA, the cocktail ring was worn on the right hand and purchased by the wearer. The cocktail ring was a sign of female empowerment, to worn by women working for the first time and no longer solely supported by their fathers or husbands. Kate wanted to fuse the power of natural gemstones with the empowerment of wearing cocktail rings and the Uberkate Everyday Gemstone Ring was born along with the movement #buyyourowndamnring
Question: Congratulations on the first retail store; how long have you been working on this store?
Kate Sutton: The House of U (what we are calling the store) has been in my mind's eye since we started Uberkate 17 years ago. I've always imagined how it would look and the feeling you would get when you walk in, it just took me a little while to make it happen!
Question: How would you describe Uberkate?
Kate Sutton: Uberkate started life as a personalised jewellery brand before there was such a thing as personalised jewellery! In 2001 while pregnant with my first baby and working as a travel producer at Channel Nine in Sydney I crafted my first set of very organic sterling silver circles and used a set of vintage stamps to emboss my baby's name into one. I wore them while we were apart in that first year back at Nine and the stylists and on air friends started asking me to make them and a little cottage industry started from my garage has grown into a 60 stockiest, global jewellery brand which now includes our own cut gemstones and The Everyday Gemstone Collection.
Question: What originally inspired your passion for hand crafted jewellery and design?
Kate Sutton: My Mum says I've always been a bower bird: collecting rocks, sequins, pulling apart old chains and putting them back together in different styles from the age of seven years old. I've always loved working with my hands and when I did my first silversmithing course in my early twenties something ignited in me. I love using my hammer, lighting my torch and getting my hands dirty in the polishing room. From such hands on dirty mess (silver and gold smithing) comes such beauty in the finished product.
Question: What inspires your jewellery designing?
Kate Sutton: My biggest inspiration comes from imagining each piece I design as an heirloom and a message for future generations. We have the technology in our "your script" service to engrave documents, old letters, messages from loved ones who have passed, into our designs. Some days it's like crafting time capsules. I've always felt jewellery to be an extension of our self. That chunky amethyst ring that your grandmother wore that when you see a lady in the street pass you by wearing one similar you immediately remember your Grandmother. Our jewellery captures moments in time, the birth of a child, a wedding an anniversary. Our Everyday Cocktail rings are becoming a personal celebration for the women who #buytheirowndamnring to celebrate a promotion, or even a divorce!
Question: Can you tell us about the #buyyourowndamnring campaign?
Kate Sutton: When i started making cocktail rings about five years ago, I did some research on the history of cocktail rings. It turns out the cocktail ring was born in the 1920's during a time in the US where women were working for the first time and earning their own money. No longer dependent on husbands and fathers for money, many women during this era spent their money on large gemstone rings which they wore on their right hands to show the world it wasn't an engagement ring, they'd bought it themselves! The cocktail ring is a sign of female empowerment and when I told my bestie about this revelation she shouted "buy your own damn ring!" and we used it as a hashtag on our socials and the rest is history!
Question: Where do you source your gemstones?
Kate Sutton: I am lucky enough to travel to source our gemstones and we cut our stones from the rough I source on trips. We have grown an incredible network of gem merchants and gem cutters and because we work directly with the sources of gemstones and cut our own we can make our large gemstone rings affordable for "everywoman"
Question: How do you balance work and family life?
Kate Sutton: I don't! I go hard at work, and I go hard at home. I have two amazing kids and an incredible business partner/ husband who support me to go off travelling to source gemstones and live my bliss. I get itchy feet after a few months at home. I'm never gone too long and we find that the ten days away rule works for our family.
Question: What advice do you have for a mother who is starting her own business?
Kate Sutton: Use your girlfriends as your market research! Also use your girlfriends as your initial sales force. We all talk to each other about amazing products or brands that we love; if your girlfriends love what you are doing it's a great sign! I still throw my new designs at my oldest girlfriends as they are brutally honest and always give me honest feedback. If you give one of them a piece of jewellery they don't love for their birthday, you will know about it!
Question: What's next for you and Uberkate?
Kate Sutton: Next for me is to open the Willoughby store, keep travelling to amazing gemstone locations (Burma is next) and to keep creating, crafting and producing jewellery that ignites people and touches hearts. We launched into the USA last year via a cocktail party at one of the first underground cocktail lounges and it was such an incredible moment. Our USA business is growing and I need to keep sourcing our gems so we can keep up with demand! #buyyourowndamnring #buyyourowndamnbangle #buyyourowndamnearringstoo
Interview by Brooke Hunter