Behind the Brand: WWAKE
This week we're highlighting another stellar Brooklyn based brand, WWAKE. The artist behind the brand, Wing, discussed her process and inspiration with us.
How did you get started with your business?
In 2012 I made my first collection, which was conceptual - it was basically an art project about manipulating distant materials so that their textures created cool relationships with each other. I really had no idea I was building a business, and I wasn’t interested in money, “strategic thinking,” or anything like that. I just wanted to share my work with others and fashion seemed like a great place to start. At the time, there were cool stores like Creatures of Comfort and Totokaelo, which were blending the worlds of art, fashion , and craft together. My passion was (and still is) rooted in that in-between.
(textile art by Sheila Hicks)
I was designing with silk, cotton, brass, bronze, silver, and a bit of gold and the stores were like “It’s beautiful, but how am I supposed to sell this? What categories does this fit into?,” and I was like “what the hell is a ‘category’?” I was clueless! I learned everything from conversations like that, though. Naturally, my metal jewelry took off ahead of my fiber pieces inspired by Sheila Hicks (lol). I opened my eyes to the fact that people buying jewelry wanted jewelry that they could actually wear, rather than display on a wall as an art piece (go figure). I appreciated how meaningful that connection was. With that in mind, I made my fine jewelry debut in 2013 and everything snowballed from there. People really connected to what I was doing with gold and opals, it was wild.
What aspect of your business are you most proud of?
This is hard to answer because there are so many things! People don’t know how difficult it is to grow a business. It takes so much energy, and will, and money (!!), and thoughtfulness. Sometimes I wonder what happened, and then I look around and I’m so proud of my collections having their own, consistent point of view. I’m so proud of my team of women, who are smart, kind, and strong willed. I’m so proud of what we learn everyday and what we can teach each other. It’s a lot. I’m just happy to be here.
What inspires you?
The unexpected. Moments you can’t predict or make up unless they happen to you.
WWAKE x Olafur Eliasson please! How can we talk about climate change through our materials from the earth?
What processes do you use to bring your ideas to life?
First I make really messy sketches in pen, and then I make many, many, iterations with the loose materials. From that point, we start constructing the jewelry from a more architectural point of view.
What is your favorite piece to create?
I’m really so excited about our new Weaving pieces.
How do you feel about the jewelry industry currently? What excites/concerns you about it?
Honestly, the industry is so saturated right now. It’s like that episode in Portlandia, “She’s Making Jewelry Now”, but there are actually thousands of us! I’ve been thinking a lot about consumption these days, and my biggest concern about the industry is that we really don’t need more stuff, more options, more anything. I’m certainly guilty of designing a lot, but the future is truly all about paring back. I’d like to see the industry take a new direction on how we talk to customers about consumption, how we release product, where the pieces come from, etc. I think we’re heading there, which is exciting.
What do you want your jewelry to say?
No statement in particular. Rather, I’d like it to reflect the person that’s wearing it, and grow with them overtime.