Folkloriikka is a jewellery brand designed and crafted by Simone Toerien. The word is Finnish for “the study of folklore” and was chosen because of her love of Scandinavian design, wintery landscapes and her fascination with myths, tales and folklore.
Simone begins all of her pieces in wax, spending a wealth of time carving and etching the intricate details that bring her work to life, before casting them in sterling silver. Simone was also one of the featured artists at this year's Design Indaba. Her creations are equally enchanting as they are beautiful. The most compelling facet of Simone is that she overcomes challenges daily, but does not let it come in the way of her creativity.
1. Simone, I love all the little creatures you come up with. How did you start and how long have you been making jewellery?
Folkloriikka started as nothing more than a dream when I was working as a graphic designer in Cape Town. I left my job and moved home to Hermanus in 2012 to take time off to rest and heal after I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
It wasn’t long before I needed a new creative outlet and began a jewellery hobby course at Ralph Walton Design in Hermanus in 2013. During one of our lost wax casting classes, I made my first Fox Ring, a gift for a good friend of mine.
I began making more animal pieces to complete what would be my first range - The Familiars. It was not long after that that I was running my own online store.
I asked Simone if she minded expanding on having lupus and she said:
I wasn't sure if I should go into too much detail though it was a major part of how I ended up starting Folkloriikka.
I have been off medication for a year, there is no cure for lupus but
it no longer affects my life, occasionally my fingertips go numb
(Raynaud's phenomenon), but nothing to complain about.
It used to impede my ability work, severe fatigue and joint pain that
made walking difficult and driving nearly impossible. I attribute a
stress free, healthy lifestyle, the fresh air in Hermanus, yoga and
doing what I love to my steady recovery.
Getting my diagnosis was scary but also a huge relief, I'd been ill
for years and always treated for my individual symptoms. I was able to
give myself permission to let go of work commitments and take time off
before pursuing my own dreams at my own pace.
As of this year I'm happy to be living and working in Cape Town again.
2. What sort of products do you make?
I make handmade woodland inspired sterling silver jewellery. All my pieces are individually carved in wax before being cast in sterling silver.
3. Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
Forests, folk tales and curiosities - odd trinkets, vintage pieces, interesting objects from all over the world that have a story to tell. My grandmother's traditional jewellery from Mexico, and her art nouveau pieces from Holland sparked my interest in the world of jewellery.
I am also inspired by other young brands that pay close attention to detail in every aspect of what they do, from crafting their products, to their photography and their marketing.
4. What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?
Trying to do everything on my own and learning that I can’t. I spend a lot of my time making stock and organising deliveries, when I’d really love to be designing and carving new pieces. I’m still working out how to find a balance.
5. How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?
It’s exciting to see local designers creating products at an international standard and making great design and expertly crafted goods accessible to the South African public, especially online. I’ve always loved the simplistic, honest way many young South African designers do their marketing and presentation, their genuine love for their product inspired me to go out and do my own thing.
6. What is your favourite colour/ material to work with, and why?
So far I only work in silver, but I have plans to work with warmer tones soon. A lot of the feedback I got from the Design Indaba this year was to produce a brass range. I would also love to work in gold.
7. What would you do if you won the lotto?
I have always dreamt of having a beautiful home studio space nestled in a forest beside a lake, I would employ people to assist me in creating my jewellery so that I could spend more time learning, designing and creating new work.
8. Where to from here?
Folkloriikka is still very young and I feel like I’ve hardly begun to achieve my business’ full
potential, I would like to produce more ranges, find more local boutiques to sell my pieces and
increase my international audience and sales.
My goal is to maintain my level of attention to detail as my business expands, to keep innovating,
experimenting with new techniques and to collaborate with people who are trained in other areas
of design to develop unique products.
9. What has been your proudest moment since you started?
I have a few but my highlights would definitely be debuting on Superbalist.com as a featured
designer, it was really exciting, most of my pieces sold out within an hour. I was selected as a
2015 Design Indaba Emerging Creative which was a huge honour and an incredible opportunity
FIND SIMONE HERE:
All images were provided by Simone