Interview with Sara & Maddy from Kate & Kole

A little interview we did earlier in the year with Amey from Curated London.

SECTION ONE – Housekeeping

  1. What are your full names?

Madalynne Clifton & Sara Spence

  1. How do you know each other?

We met in 2014, our partners at the time were brothers and we became fast friends.

  1. Where are each of you from and where are you based now?

Sara is from New Zealand and Maddy is from Dungog. Kate & Kole came to life when we were both living in Newcastle which is where Sara is still based with Maddy now based in Sydney.

SECTION TWO – About Kate & Kole

  1. Why did you decide to start Kate and Kole and when was it founded?

It was 2015 and we were having dinner one evening, we had a few glasses of wine and started talking about how we both wanted to create something that we loved. We came up with a name and started an instagram account. Two months later we launched our first collection, Explore.

  1. What was it like starting your own creative business and how did you start e.g. at home, shared studio etc?

When we first started we worked out of a small home studio, we were both in Newcastle so we would meet up for weekly meetings and touch base most days. With Maddy now in Sydney we rely on shared docs, emails, texts and facetime.

  1. Any issues you had to overcome at the beginning?

We started small and with a tiny investment, we let it grow as we could afford to, with both time and cashflow. It was pretty tough for the first few years, but we supported each other and celebrated the wins. We are now in our fourth year and we are really starting to see all the hard work pay off.

  1. Is there a story behind the name?

The name is a combination of our middle names, Maddy’s being Kate and Sara’s being Nicole.

SECTION THREE – Production and processes

  1. You combine state-of-the-art 3D modelling software and 3D printing with traditional plaster mould techniques and hand-polishing (I think) – what is the benefit of producing your pieces in this way?

We aren’t trained jewellers. This was a technology that could take our sketched and bring them to life. We get our pieces cast in Sydney and finished by hand in Newcastle.

  1. Are all pieces made this way, any other techniques?

Most of our core collection is made this way. Our bespoke pieces are designed by us with our client and then created by our jeweller locally.

  1. You’ve started manufacturing in Australia – what made you choose to produce your pieces locally?

We would have loved to have always manufactured in Australia, however we couldn’t find a company that could come close to the pricing in New York. When we were just starting we had to be super price conscious. We value making our pieces in Australia and have decided that it is something that is important to us, even if it comes with a higher price tag.

  1. How did you/do you choose your collaborators for production?

Mostly through instagram. We are both very visual people so when we are scrolling if something makes us stop we like to explore the option of working together. We have released two pieces with Perth artist Nikki Cruz and most recently we released a collection with Newcastle artist Annie Everingham.

SECTION FOUR – Collections

  1. How do you design your collections, what inspires you and what is the creative process?

We both work in the creative industries. Sara is an Art Director at a creative agency and Maddy works as a Content Creator at a Fashion label, we are constantly being visually inspired and then it is more about trying to create something that feels natural but also unique. We usually have a few collections on the go at once, each inspiring the next.

We always come back to brand. Trying to make sure each piece fits into the larger Kate & Kole picture. We want you to be able to wear a piece from each collection without any feeling out of place.

  1. You only make one collection a year – why?

When we started this was the only feasible option. In 2015 we launched our first collection Explore. In 2016 we released Aurora, then Ahua in 2017. In 2018 we launched our first collaboration with an artist. We also had a collection Classics, which we had been working on for a number of months as our sort of blank canvas range. We launched BORN, a range that collaborated with influencers around the world to bring birthstones to life again. In October we launched Match Point, as range based on using similar pieces to create multiple looks. So yes, we used to launch one collection a year, now we design and launch as we are inspired.

SECTION FIVE – Deux Précieux

  1. What made you choose Nikki Cruz to collaborate with? What values do you share?

Nikki creates beautiful content. She is a photographer and an artist first and has fallen into the world of content creation. When knew as soon as we saw her work that we wanted to work with her, it was just about creating the right platform to execute it on.

  1. You’re using lab-grown diamonds for your second collaboration with Nikki Cruz – what made you decide to use these types of diamonds instead of traditional mined diamonds?

Lab grown diamonds make sense to us. We would love to be a carbon neutral company and this is one less deficit that we will have to reclaim in the future when we can build environmental concern into our business plan.

SECTION SIX – Other questions

  1. What’s the creative community like in Australia?

Australia and New Zealand both seem to nurture creativity. It is encouraged and celebrated which we are both so grateful for. The community here is so supportive and enthusiastic. We are always blown away by both the local and further afield support we get when we release something new.

  1. What’s most important to you as you build your business in terms of values, collaborations and processes?

We want to make sure the quality and thought is at the center of everything we do. By using quality materials, each piece should last a lifetime. Using lab grown diamonds is one way we can reduce our environmental impact. We also work with suppliers to reduce the amount of packaging we receive and send and also how many trips our delivery drivers do. We try to save up orders to ensure that we only receive casts back twice a weekly rather than arriving daily.

  1. Any upcoming collections or collaborations you’d be happy to talk about?

In January we launched our very first bridal collection. Offering stone options from affordable to luxury we want to help consumers understand where the value and cost sit with an engagement ring. With millenials looking at houses over engagement rings we want to create pieces that are just as special but with a range of price tags.

  1. Any plans for the future?

Next year we want to take a little breath and enjoy all of the work that we have put in. Focus on systems and processes rather than the growth that we focused on this year.

  1. What is your favourite Kate & Kole piece (for each of you)?

Sara: I wear my mini classic pendant every day and love it. It is such a simple piece and catches the light perfectly.

Maddy: Our most recent release Cascade. They are gold dipped pearl earrings, I feel like they’re our boldest piece yet.

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