Co-founders of Selkie Jewellery Tia and Kimi talk to us about how an immense love of the ocean and passion for creativity drives their fledgling jewellery business. Words: Madeleine Barber
As many great ideas do, this one started on a beach. Tia Rolfe and Kimi Stewart were beachcombing at Aldwick Bay towards the end of 2015 when the idea of Selkie Jewellery sprung to mind. With Tia a skilled sea-inspired silversmith and Kimi an expert in marine environmental science and photography, it was only a matter of time before the friends joined forces. ‘We’re definitely both ocean people,’ Kimi laughs. ‘That’s our territory. Anything ocean-related. It’s a peaceful and magical place.’
Tia does all the making and loves working on the signature Selkie Wave necklaces, bracelets and earrings. ‘The wave is my favourite to make because it’s the first thing we started doing,’ she says. Tia casts using cuttlefish bone, pouring molten silver inside to create unique and delicate wave-like prints. Kimi then photographs the jewellery and handles the digital process.
The pair regularly join beach cleans and spend holidays by the sea, recently visiting Whitby to collect items for their jewellery. Sea glass often washes up, so Tia started using that in her designs. Selkie sea glass rings have proven so popular that they often come home to find a bag of sea glass in the post that someone has donated.
Both women are holding down jobs alongside Selkie Jewellery, but with the business’ growing success they are hoping that their enterprise will eventually become full time. ‘The magic shed’, as Tia calls it, is the Selkie studio in Aldwick that they’re currently upgrading to make suitable for customer visits.
When they find a spare minute the duo spend time exploring the coastline around Aldwick – great for swimming, kayaking, windsurfing and SUP, it provides much inspiration for their work.
They’re also working on a new line of turtle and whale jewellery that will support British marine charities. ‘With the new designs we hope to be able to give a bit back to charity,’ says Tia. Kimi too is feeling positive about the future: ‘It’s a wonderful goal. We want to work with plastics from the beach, so hopefully we’ve got lots of exciting things ahead of us.’