On a recent trip to Auckland I had the chance to meet Zoe Williams (nee Sibbald) one of the founders of international jewellery label Zoe & Morgan.
Based at The City Works Depot the brand’s New Zealand base is an intimate retail space that provides something of a retreat from the immediacy of the urban landscape. The decor is whimsical, yet elegant—a gold cat-like mask adorns a frosted glass door, and a glittery mountain-scape replete with crescent moon and stars provides the backdrop to glass cabinets which hold the precious collections. If I could spend hours here I would (okay, let’s face it — I want to move in!).
Zoe & Morgan stock contemporary and fine jewellery—and their latest offering ‘Eye of the Tiger’ A/W ’14 is in collaboration with tattoo artist and illustrator Minka Sicklinger — the collection inspired by the all-seeing eye —a symbol of wisdom and omnipotence.
The main line comprises of sterling silver and gold-plate pieces which are stocked at fashion boutiques and high-end stores worldwide. But much closer to home, Zoe informs me that they’re often hunted down by clients requesting bespoke engagement and wedding rings—the clients also coming armed with research, “they know the names of [our] pieces off by heart”. The label has never advertised this as part of their services, but it allows the brand to more fully explore the craft that they know and love.
The brand is run as a sibling team with Zoe’s brother Morgan (based in South East Asia) and sister Ruth (based in London). Zoe says the physical distance benefits the business rather than playing against it with Ruth covering Europe, Morgan focusing on Asia and Zoe having her eye on Australia and New Zealand. Production takes place in Thailand, England, New Zealand and Bali and the siblings converge at least twice a year.
“We’re really close [and] the business enables us to travel and then come together and have quality family time.”
Traveling is something that the siblings are well accustomed to. Of Argentinian, Canadian and English descent, the Sibbald children traveled extensively across international waters with their parents in search for precious stones for their father—Douglas Sibbald’s jewellery business. “Our parents chose a specific lifestyle for us and brought us up in a really creative way. We spent a lot of time drawing pictures and developing ideas and not living a normal life, but a free-spirited adventurous one.”
The Sibbald children may not have had a conventional upbringing, but their father made sure that they didn’t forgo the value of hard work—after school hours were spent at the family business where they routinely helped to clean cabinets, earning pocket money to buy silver for which to make an item of jewellery and have a lesson, and Zoe adds, “we learnt respect for the tools.”
Zoe knew instinctively that she’d continue along the lines of the family trade, with her father even bestowing his tools upon her before he passed away. Irregardless she put the idea of running a business on hold and set off for London with a desire for adventure, pursuing a career in fashion and millinery whilst her sister Ruth graced international catwalks and Morgan followed his passion for music.
But there was no doubt that the siblings would eventually establish their own business. Combining their unique styles honed through the fashion and music industries— they were swiftly picked up by high-end buyers including; Harvey Nichols and Liberty (among others) after landing a coveted spot at Paris Fashion Week.
Whilst their contemporary collections are the bread and butter of their retail and wholesale business, it is the fine collections and bespoke pieces that excite Zoe the most. At a time when fast turn-around fashion prevails, she sees the importance of being ‘eco-minded’ and creating pieces of lasting value “…they’re investment pieces which people can hand down to their grandchildren,” she says.
Gallery images (above) supplied by Zoe & Morgan from their A/W 14 collection ‘Eye of the Tiger’
Photo credits: Ruth and Morgan ( images supplied).
Other images by Sly on the Wall
To find out more or to buy your very own piece of Zoe & Morgan goodness check out their website.