MEET THE SELLER - KAREN WANLESS OF ZAMSOE JEWELLERY
PUBLISHED: 19:10 24 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:06 30 August 2017
We chat to designer and creator of Zamsoe – the popular jewellery brand that fuses Cornish tradition and seaside sights into quirky designs – to find out what inspires her
Have you always been creative?
Being creative is something you have deep in your soul, maybe its built into your genes! I do believe that creative people have a different way of thinking – I’m convinced my creative flair is all due to my precious family. I was brought up in a tiny coal mining community in the North of England, I have beautiful childhood memories of grandfather and his oil paintings. I used to love the smell of the paints and was enthralled by the paraphernalia that would accompany this - he painted the most incredible landscapes which were a million miles from our surroundings.
My father was a true eccentric and entrepreneur who loved colour. I remember him converting our huge coal bunker into the most spectacular aquarium. Where most of the neighbours would have kept grey racing pigeons – we had the great barrier reef with floor the ceiling glass and the most vivid exotic fish.
Our house was a bit peculiar too. On a typical mining terrace street that embraced chintz, lace and dralon; oh my Lord, in comparison we so were bright, bold and striking! A vivid orange velvet sofa; a Habitat light that appeared from the ceiling like a huge space ship and a Rene Macintosh table (which is still in use today). My mum would buy Vogue patterns and make all our clothes – she was the most amazing seamstress. We lived in a tiny mining community, but we were always bang on trend – so you can see why I was I destined to be creative.
Talk us through your collection at Zamsoe…
We have just over 100 products – mostly from our brooch emporium range. They are all inspired by things I love or collections of memories. For example Tea Lovers brooch is inspired by my obsession with cups of tea! The Save the Bees brooch is inspired by my best friend Fi who has just started keeping bees and so on. We also have a lovely range of jewellery which is inspired by our beautiful beaches, coastline and hedgerows. This year we going to be creating some more necklaces and some fabulous charm bracelets, so watch this space.
Do you have a favourite product?
I love all my designs, but my favourites are the ones inspired by the sea, beach and coast.
Do you have a signature style?
I would describe it as a quirky collection of fascinating finds that create lots of lovely memories; a bijou collection of things we love to do, or moments in time that are special to that person. Above all I would like to think our style would brighten any outfit and make people smile. We also like to make our jewellery very personalised by adding vintage inspired type writer keys to add initials.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get a lot of my inspiration from my friends, family and other interesting people I meet along the way. Plus, from the beautiful place where we live – daily walks on the beach, the amazing flowers and fauna of the Cornish hedgerows, our famous cream teas and my constant battle to grow my own vegetables (which is why you will always see a slug!).
Can you describe your workspace?
We live in a quirky old house that used to be a strawberry farm. We have a large room which looks over the garden, so I do have to rein myself in from chicken watching and general gazing. There are two distinctive sides to our studio. One very organised and tidy were Ste works and deals with the business side, and a very messy side (mine) which is where all the designing, making and general playing’ takes place. Attached to the back of the house is the old light house from Trovose Head, which provides the perfect light for taking photos.
What is a typical day for you?
My typical day can be easily summed up as a tiny hamster running like billio on its wheel! It starts by feeding my chickens, followed by the most amazing school run along the Atlantic coast. Then I meet my friends on the beach with my dog Defore, a mad labradoodle. This usually takes me to 9ish. Then, with a huge cup of tea to thaw me out from the beach, I print out my orders, sort enquiries out and begin creating and making. This is usually interspersed with further and numerous tea breaks and a bit of chicken glazing from my window. I always try and do a little design work and some drawings of new lines. Finally I combine my school run with the post, and then family life takes over and all the calm of the day suddenly ends!