Jade Leigh Kelly from Karen Walker. Image supplied.
Jade Leigh Kelly is head designer and brand director for Karen Walker Jewellery and is known for her colourful personal style. English-born Jade has been with the brand for over eight years and works closely with Karen Walker and her husband Mikhail Gherman, who is the creative director for the brand. Aside from using her design talents to create or source new products, Jade gets to regularly travel overseas for photoshoots, fashion shows and lots of different projects and is enjoying every moment of working her dream job in her adopted home country.
We caught up with Jade to find out more about her work, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
At Karen Walker we’re fascinated with all things space, stargazing and astrological findings so for jewellery it was only natural that we’d do our own Zodiac pendants. The Karen Walker arrow is used to suspend each Zodiac sign. They feature the classic Karen Walker Superfine chain with an exciting new element; a chain extender to give the wearer flexibility to style their necklace at three different lengths. Perfect for layering too.
What made you become a designer?
From a really young age all I’ve ever done is create things. It comes from a place of wanting to express myself but at times not being able to find or get my hands on what I want. I also really enjoyed the creative process, having an idea and going on the journey of making it a reality. To be able to do that as a job is a dream come true!
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, I like to surround myself with people I find interesting and talented, people who challenge me and open my mind up to new things. What drives me with design is the want to create something that’s fun and interesting.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
My personal style is eclectic and optimistic; I’m attracted to things that feed the emotion of excitement, happiness and a sense of magic. That’s something that I strive to have in my work. Moments of euphoria.
The Zodiac pendants from Karen Walker Jewellery.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
One of my favourite purchases is the first Karen Walker ring I bought, the gold Runaway Stacker. I had to save for it and it was a reward to myself for getting a job at KW. I also love what the Runaway girl stands for. She’s about adventure, individuality and always looking for something new.
What wardrobe item should every woman invest in?
GOLD!! Haha, well gold is my preference. A piece of jewellery that you buy for yourself! I’m a believer in celebrating the big and little things in life. A piece of jewellery is a special way to mark those moments and something that will last forever.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Forget the rules! Rules are there to be broken. Just do what makes you feel good!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Working with the United Nations’ Ethical Fashion Initiative in Africa is definitely top of my highlights list. We work with the EFI’s artisans to create accessories using their local and traditional techniques such as beading, embroidery, screen-printing and metal work. After each collection we receive an impact report explaining how the Karen Walker order impacted on the community and the individual. It’s extremely rewarding and humbling to see. Going to Kenya to meet with the initiative and artisans we work with is also a life highlight!
What can’t you live without?
Family, friends and my little furry pooch Jika.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…