INTERVIEW WITH KIM SMILEY OF SAPPHO
Hello all, our interview of the day goes to the lovely artist Kim Smiley. As you all know we love posting new fashion, apparel, make-up and in this case jewelry. Kim Smiley has created the most beautiful and unique jewelry and we are excited to do this interview with her. Let’s get started!
- Kim what inspired you to make your jewelry?
I’ve created art from an early age. A couple of years ago, I started incorporating handmade fragments of vintage lace into my mixed media paintings. I completed a series of watercolors using archival photographs from the 1900s and lace from Belgium, France and Italy, all handmade from the late 1800s.
One day I had an epiphany – instead of bedecking the paintings I was creating with this precious, exquisite lace, why not bedeck myself? So I began sewing together pieces of jewelry out of lace and making them into bracelets. Then I introduced gems and vintage objects. Everything crystallized when I was out with a philanthropist who owns a large clothing company (my day job is working with a large Canadian charity); when the donor saw the reaction my jewelry was eliciting from women - that I was being approached over the course of an hour by different, random ladies admiring my creations- he said, “You are on to something here, and I think it will be big.”
1. 2. What is your most popular item of jewelry?Our metallic lace, handmade Sappho cuffs are the most popular in our Collection. We started with basic lace cuffs, and were quickly inspired to introduce cuffs with gems, vintage objects and Swarovski crystal. Our creations are getting more refined and detailed as our line evolves. Part of Sappho by Kim Smiley’s appeal is that no two pieces of our Collection are alike. They are handmade so this creates natural variation.
We just introduced a Bridal Collection and are beginning to design custom pieces – both jewelry and hair accessories. Women want something unique and exclusive for their wedding and our brand really optimizes the notion of one-of-a-kind. When we are commissioned to create a piece of jewelry, we approach the process like we were commissioned to create a painting or any other fine work of art. We see a woman’s body as the canvas, and our jewelry as the art.
3. How did you come up with the concept of naming your jewelry after poets?
My company weaves together the three things I am most passionate about aside from my husband– art we call the jewelry ‘wearable works of art’; social justice our classic collection is created by women who live below the poverty line – we train them and pay them a Living Wage; and poetry, something I have loved since I was a teenager. Sappho was the first female poet, and I borrowed her name because Sappho’s verse exalted the beauty of women in the same way my jewelry seeks to. Every piece in my collection is named after a famous or emerging poet I juxtapose Rumi with, for instance, my dear friend, brilliant American poet Jessica McFarland; my website features the jewelry alongside the poem that inspired it. We like to say that Sappho by Kim Smiley is a platform for poetry and the public good. We think the value we add is that we make the world more beautiful, not just physically through our designs, but through the foundations of kindness and knowledge we have based our business model on. We’re part of the growing field called social enterprise: businesses that enrich the world.
4. Can you give our readers some fashion tips? What your jewelry can be worn with?
I urge people to take fashion risks. I like to dress like I am creating a painting – I’m bold and experimental with colors, tones and textures. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but the beauty of that is that fashion shouldn't be taken seriously. It’s an art, an opportunity for us to explore, be crazy and have fun.
We wear our cuffs, necklaces, breastplates and earrings with jeans and a T shirt or with a black tie gown. We mix gold, silver, pewter and bronze. I don’t like rules, in fashion or elsewhere. When I was younger I used to think that less was more, but as I have grown up I think more is more. I like to pile on my pieces. My paintings are the same, very colorful, very layered, sometimes quite elaborate.Women tell us that they love the versatility of our creations, and also that they appreciate how physically light everything is, especially in a time when earrings can make your ears ache. (We've all been there, right?). Our line is so light it becomes a part of you. You hardly know it’s there.
5. Where can our readers go to purchase your lovely items?
People can check out my website: www.kimsmiley.com. My Etsy store is a great place to purchase my pieces: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SapphoByKimSmiley. Etsy is a hotbed of talented artists and designers. I love exploring the site. We ship around the world. We also do trunk shows in the homes of patrons. They choose a charity and we make a donation to their cause as an extension of our corporate social responsibility. If you live in Toronto, La Nuit in Forest Hill carries our line. We are about to launch at Jade Mountain in St. Lucia (where I just returned from my honeymoon), and are in talks with select boutiques in Montreal, Toronto, New York, London and Dubai.
6. What is next for Sappho? Hold onto your hats for our Men’s Collection, Ram Bam, coming out in the next year. This line will also marry fashion and social justice. I guess that combination is kind of in my blood.
Thank you so much for your interview. Ladies (and gentleman) make sure you visit SAPPHO and Kim’s soon-to-be-released brainchild, Ram Bam, for exquisite , one-of-a-kind, wearable works of art.
We want to thank you again for this interview, and good luck with your business!