Sculptures for the body by Linnie McLarty
With a background in fine art and theatre, Linnie McLarty’s self-named jewellery brand was always going to be one to watch! We spoke to Linnie about staying ethical, becoming a licensee for certified Fairtrade gold and expanding her brand.
What makes your brand different?
I only ever make the kind of jewellery I’d want to wear myself. Whilst this ethos isn’t entirely unusual in itself, I think the kind of jewellery I make is. My design approach is an exploration of how jewellery can be worn. You could say I make scaled-down sculptures for the body. Comfort and ease of wear are hugely important criteria to me though, so it’s about functionality as well as form.
How do you achieve staying ethical?
I work with 100% recycled sterling silver and fairly traded gemstones with a clear and transparent chain of custody. I am also one of the first licensees worldwide for certified Fairtrade gold.
How important are ethics to you?
I think it’s my responsibility as a designer-maker to work in the most responsible way I can. I want my jewellery to be beautiful from every angle, so I do what I can to make that happen. Globally, over 100 million people depend directly or indirectly on artisanal and small-scale mining and are trapped in unfair supply chains, struggling to get a fair price for the gold they mine. Fairtrade gold is helping to change this and I think that’s great.
What caused you to go into jewellery?
It was entirely accidental. I was brushing up on my (very sketchy) film making skills at an evening class in order to apply for a job with a film company. My partner did a metalwork course, which was running at the same time, to keep me company. When I saw the kinds of things he’d been doing I had a kind of hallelujah moment. I signed up for the following term and was absolutely blown away. Strangers would come up to me and ask about the jewellery I was wearing and I started to get commissions so I went back to university to study silversmithing.
Would you ever consider moving into clothing?
I have a habit of designing all kinds of things, including clothing, shoes and bags although mostly for fun. I would certainly consider collaborating on a clothing collection or two with a fashion designer, possibly with some shoes thrown in. That definitely appeals to me, but I couldn’t imagine ever not making jewellery.
Have there been any career highlights so far?
I’ve been lucky enough to have won several jewellery awards. Those have been a big thrill, obviously. It’s always great to have approbation for what you do.
Where do you want to see yourself and your brand in a few years?
Having my own business means I’m always working, plus I’ve got two young children, so ideally I’d like to see myself in a position to delegate more of the general aspects and have more time to spend with my boys. I’d love to expand into making jewellery and props for film and theatre, and collaborate in these areas to a much greater extent.
You can find out more about Linnie here.