Tell us about your life before launching jewellery label Eden + Elie.
I was born and raised in Singapore, but studied in the US and after that established a career there as an architect and design professional. I became interested in the intersection of design, business and social good through my travels, and eventually directed my career towards working for apparel, e-commerce and product design companies.
When I returned to Singapore about six years ago with my husband and children, I entered the field of experience design, working with companies who wanted to innovate better products, services and customer experiences. I left three years ago to start Eden + Elie, which is a culmination of all I’ve learned.
What inspired you to found the company?
Starting my own company is a privilege many women don’t have, and I remind myself of that when the going gets tough. Although I didn't formally train in jewellery design, it's a lovely intimate scale of designing and making, and it feeds my soul.
Eden + Elie is named after my two children. Any woman who has juggled family responsibilities and work will tell you there is no balance; there are only priorities that get tested and stretched every day.
Tell us about your work with local artisans.
Where do you draw design inspiration and source your materials from?
Everything starts in my head. I usually go straight to working with materials as soon as I have an idea, sometimes with a rough sketch, but most of the time without. As the materials themselves have finite dimensions, forms and texture, I find it easier to design with them straight away, which leads me to trials and prototypes.
We use glass seed beads from Japan in all of our jewellery. I love that they are minimal yet modular, and can be built up into exquisite designs with the right vision and execution, just like thread to fabric and clothes.
Why is preserving the art of hand weaving important to you?
I’ve always been attracted to making things and I grew up in a family of sewers. My mother, aunt and grandmother sewed too. Even though it’s easier now more than ever to produce something industrially, there is something irreplaceable about hand made design.
When I was in architecture school, I learned to sketch, draw and build models as a way of thinking and working through ideas. When I became a painter, my studio walls had lots of sketches, scraps of paintings, experiments taped up. For me, it’s not so much about preserving techniques as it is about keeping them alive.
What matters to me is learning a stitch, or method or technique before it disappears from our collective history, and then making new things with those techniques. That’s how we move forward collectively – we learn, adapt and re-invent. Each movement in art or design has always drawn from the past but then has been made anew, according to its time.
"What matters to me is learning a stitch, or method or technique before it disappears from our collective history, and then making new things with those techniques. That’s how we move forward collectively – we learn, adapt and re-invent. Each movement in art or design has always drawn from the past but then is made anew, according to its time."
What key lessons has your entrepreneurial journey taught you?
It's important to always go back to the “why”. Remember why you started. If you lose your compass, you’ll never last.
Secondly, do something native to your soul. I’ve found that I have the most drive and passion when I do something that is closely connected to who I am. You can run on ambition, but you will run further with ambition, passion and authenticity.
How do you stay inspired and driven?
I’ve always looked for convergence in my life – of my faith, my values, my abilities and my passions. It wasn’t possible in every season. Some periods of my life were spent learning, training or gaining experience in some other discipline. But ultimately, I want to be in the intersection as much as possible. My faith and values help me discern what is important, my abilities allow me to contribute in ways that I do best and my passions ignite the love and creativity for the work.
What steps do you take in your life to live a little more consciously?
I think consciousness is more than just being aware of labels on the products we consume. I think it's also being mindful of what sorts of ecosystems are impacted by what you choose to use, buy and support. One way is to supporting companies that are working on making better products, in better ways.
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