Pichulik is as unique a brand as it is a name. Named after its founder Katherine-Mary Pichulik, the brand has grown from humble beginnings selling at local markets, to landing in the pages of some of the fashion industry’s most esteemed publications. To appreciate the Pichulik brand is to appreciate the values that underline each collection.
The Insider reaches out to Katherine-Mary to delve into the diverse and colour-rich world of Pichulik.
Who was Katherine-Mary before the Pichulik brand was established?
I am a trained artist and pastry chef. I came back from doing an internship at Art Review in London, and baking in a bakery in Brixton, UK. I traveled India and Spain and returned to Cape Town, broke and unsure of my purpose. Over the next six months I began bottling peppers, started a catering company at markets and making neck pieces at night.
When did you realize you wanted to become a jewellery designer?
I fell into fashion out of a love for making things with my hands and an interest in ornamentation. I have never found a perfect fit in an established employable position. Instead, I decided to create the type of businesses I would want to work in. “Luxury fashion” found me, I guess. I have no formal training; I started making the jewels that I would like to wear and people responded – thus with increasing interest Pichulik grew.
How did you come about working with the rope elements for your jewellery?
I think not having a traditional jewellery background means I don’t have a stagnant definition of what jewellery is – and I can play with these boundaries. Rope is like a line – you can use it to draw anything. Rope also connects things, ties things together. This is a conduit for our purpose: connecting women and telling stories in the most ancient of feminine modalities, jewellery.
You look to other cultures for inspiration when creating your designs. Describe your process when starting a new collection.
A collection starts with a feeling, an abstract stimuli – a photograph, a movie, a moment. Then it becomes almost forensic in nature, whereby that lead becomes unpacked and explored, and material is considered, and so the design process begins.
Since your designs were featured in international publications such as Italian Vogue, how has your brand transformed from the early days?
As we have grown, I feel the brand undergoes levels of distillation. At the beginning it was really about experimentation, play and exploration. As we mature as a brand, and as I approach thirty, refinement, quality over quantity, authenticity and clarity become of greater importance. We will always experiment and explore. However, our discernment has increased as the brand vision and values gain clarity. Genuine brand experiences and engaging with our loyal customers in authentic ways are really important to us. Constantly engaging in new projects that push our creativity and audience. Being kind as opposed to important; throwing aside any snobbish notions that exist in the fashion industry to favour engagement; dialogue and connections. All of these have been involved in my growth and that of the brand.
Your jewellery is often described as bold statement pieces. What statement do think you are making through your designs?
Pichulik is a conduit to create a space for women to have dialogue around themes of self-worth, empowerment and self-acceptance. I hope to create more vehicles to really aggregate these wisdom circles both online and in actual organized events.
Your collections evoke strong narratives & endless journeys. How do you insert yourself into each piece?
I think my interest in the sacred nature of jewellery, and its importance in female ceremony and wisdom inform the sorts of narratives I choose to tell, as well as the parts of [the] world I am inspired by.
What is your current collection about?
AW16 sets out to honour the heroines of the seventies – women with warrior-like sass, like Angela Davis, the feminist, activist and former Black Panther, and Pam Grier, the famous blaxploitation film star who used her stardom as a platform for her political voice, by way of example.
The collection is smaller and has a clearer focus for winter but the pieces are adaptable and can be customized to create variation, especially with regards to the earrings. The gold-plaited hoops act as the base and come with several parts you can slip onto it. Each season we will introduce new components to play with. I want to move away from the frivolity of pieces that are seasonal and hope that women rather build a collection that can be interchanged to always create a new design. I feel that ornamentation can be used to give yourself and others reminders of who you are.
Which markets do you currently export your products to?
Pichulik ships internationally.
Are there any new or exciting projects you have coming up?
We are currently working on our SS17 Collection – but you’ll have to wait for the launch next month to know the finer details. For now, I will say that I love Oroma Elewa, Brancusi, New Mexico, Chet Baker, baba ghanoush and the smell of sandalwood. Also women circles and sacred sharing with women.
[The SS17 collection is currently available on the Pichulik website]. What advice do you have for young creatives that want to build a brand with an international presence?
Organisations are made up of people. The best business creates a space for people to actualize their greatness, exercise their gifts. Leadership sees the value in each person and organizes a system to best access and express it.