Behind the Scenes of Sustainable Jewelry With Knots & Pipes
Tassels are so hot right now. So is sustainability. Today’s post is a double whammy because it’s a peek into the studio of ethically and sustainably made jewelry! I had the wonderful opportunity to connect with Heather (7.5 months pregnant and still working away like a boss-babe!) of Knots & Pipes, an Ontario-based company that creates and sells beautiful eco chic jewelry made from refurbished and recycled materials. With gorgeous jewelry like this, it’s easy to start building a more eco-friendly closet.
I’ve always been a fan of accessories because they can carry great sentimental value, and pack some serious styling potential despite being so small. Heather’s pieces are no different. Using techniques she learned from childhood and fascinating discoveries from estate sales or thrifting, eco-chic takes on a whole new meaning at Knots & Pipes. There are no crunchy granola styles here. Just beautiful, elegant earrings, necklaces and bracelets that suit so many different tastes. Learn more about Heather, her process, and her business below!
When did you start Knots & Pipes and why? What has the business journey been like?
I started Knots and Pipes in 2015. I was having a hard time finding statement pieces with clean lines, made from raw materials, (let alone pieces made in Canada at an accessible price point)!
I used the skills I gained from my mother and grandmother in the rural community of Norfolk, ON (leather craft, sewing, crocheting) and combined them with the shop local, repurpose and maintain mantra engrained in me by my parents who owned a small independent furniture store that focused on Canadian made products in Simcoe, ON.
Regarding my business journey so far, it has certainly had its ups and downs. I have learned that creativity and perfecting my craft is only part of the process.Marketing, a business sense, supply management- these are all things that I had to learn (am still learning) along the way. I underestimated these components in the beginning but am starting to get into the groove of managing both aspects simultaneously.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Your materials are repurposed costume and vintage jewelry – do you let what you find inspire you, or do you have an idea before you source your materials?
My design process is largely inspired by my upbringing. More specifically, my rural roots. A reply my parents would commonly give me when I would express an interest in something would be “how can we go about making it?” That’s where the sourcing repurposed materials comes into place. The inspiration for the aesthetic of my pieces comes from my time spent living in the Junction, Toronto and now Hamilton, ON. Style influences are undoubtedly pulled from the industrial roots of these neighbourhoods.
When it comes to sourcing materials, I let what I find inspire me. A majority of my pieces come from stumbling upon a killer vintage necklace or copper pipeand the design process unfolds from there. That said, at any given time I have a mental list of 10 things I am keeping my eyes peeled for 🙂
That being said, where do you get your materials from?
Hardware stores, local sewing shops, thrift stores, estate sales, consignment shops and antique barns.
How do you feel about trends influencing your work? Do you follow them? Or do your own thing?
Great question. I think it is pretty difficult to make a full, clean break from trends. We are influenced in one way or another on a daily basis, whether we are aware of it or not. Being on point within the market is also relevant to making a viable business. Becoming captive to trends however leaves little room for the creation of a unique, interesting aesthetic. Trendy pieces without originality are not sustainable. As a designer, tapping into one’s own instinct and marrying that with a nod to current trends helps create timeless pieces. It’s a balancing act.
Where did your slow fashion ethos come from?
Definitely my family. Growing up my parents owned a small independent furniture store. My mom sewed clothing for us from furniture samples. Leather swatches were crafting materials and the beginnings of doll clothing. Our pillows at home were filled with down feathers hand plucked by my grandparents at the family farm. Up until I went away from school our town didn’t have a smart centre. We either made it or bought it local. My dad actually fought Walmart from encroaching on our small town for over ten years, alongside other town councillors and small business owners. Buying something meant you had it for years to come.
How can we all be a bit more slow fashion conscious?
Buy less, choose well. I am a big advocate for purchasing fewer items locally at a higher price point- if it means that I can name the maker & stand behind their process. When I follow this mantra I find I usually have a human to speak with if/when I face concerns with the product. When I invest money in something I am likely to use it with care (repairing and maintaining when needed). I know my cobbler, dry cleaner and seamstress well-and visit them often 🙂
Lastly, I am also an advocate of thrift and vintage shopping. I am aware that not everyone has the time or energy to shop this way, but it is such a sure fire way to find incredible, one of a kind pieces.
As always, thanks for reading, XO
This is Heather! Rocking her own tassel earring design and a gorgeous baby bump!