Regardless of weather, event, time or place, most of us tend to wear the same pieces of jewellery, day in, and day out. Jewellery becomes something simultaneously declarative and subliminal. Part of a routine but also something that needs to be brilliantly made and beautifully designed.

For Holly Archer Nicholls and Natalie Holt, self-adornment isn’t just for aesthetic purposes, but a celebration of carefully considered craft. London-based artisanal jewellery brand, Pond, founded by Holly and Natalie in London is an exercise in beautiful things being made in beautiful ways.

The pair met while they were working at the same jewellery company where the fast-paced environment and material waste became startlingly frustrating. With years of experience and appreciation for technique, Pond was born, becoming a mindful alternative to the often damaging jewellery industry. Hand-made in their South London studio, Holly and Natalie use recycled materials, vintage jewellery and source deadstock elements for all of their collections.

Crafting with consciousness, we spoke to Holly and Natalie to find out more…

After decades-long careers in the fashion and jewellery industry, what inspired you to start Pond, and what drove you to establish your own jewellery brand?
We’ve always had shared reference points when it comes to aesthetics and style. We trust and respect each other's creative opinions, which we think is the most important thing. Working together for so long within design teams in fast-paced environments meant we knew we worked well together. We loved what we did but for a long time, we were feeling dissatisfied with the lack of environmental responsibility and frustrated at not being able to do things our way. We’d always talked about starting our own brand so when the right opportunity presented itself we went for it.

You use predominantly vintage jewellery, recycled metals and dead stock materials, how does the sourcing process work?
It's a combination of antique markets and eBay. We have a few beloved dealers who know what we are looking for. We do have popular styles that sell out quickly and then we don’t know if we will ever be able to recreate them but we try to resource things and pick up other things that inspire new pieces along the way.

Collaboration seems to be a recurring theme in Pond’s approach. Can you tell us about any notable collaborations you've undertaken?
One of the first things we did before we were even Pond was a collection for Nat’s friend James Long, Creative Director at Iceberg. He wanted jewellery for one of his runway shows so we decided to make it all from vintage pieces that we cut up and reconfigured. That’s when we started to think about how we might work with vintage as a concept for a label.

Tell us a bit more about how your limited edition and made-to-order services work. Why does this business model work better for you?
We prefer to find the material first and then use it as the design inspiration. This approach prevents waste from the start. Being made-to-order is also part of preventing waste – we don’t have stock hanging around and we don’t mark down. If something doesn’t do as well as we expected, we just redesign it.

Pond champions the idea of jewellery as a form of self-expression. How do you envision your pieces empowering and resonating with your customers?
Expression and identity through style has always been our main point of interest so in everything we do, we’re always considering how it will be worn, and what the context is. Our jewellery isn’t sentimental, it’s not a keepsake: it’s expressive and it's made to be worn. We love the idea of fashion as connection and communication and we think that’s what people respond to.

How does London continue to energise your creativity?
London is such an important part of who we are. Holly was born here and studied at Saint Martins, Nat moved here when she came to study at RCA. The history of style and subversion that comes from London is always an inspiration. But also metaphorically, the layers of history that are here and visible just walking down the street particularly in Farringdon (the centre of the jewellery trade) where the ancient ruins of a church buttress up against a newly built office block for example.

We love that connection to the past and the way certain themes or motifs in fashion and style will resurface and merge throughout time, becoming simultaneously something new and innately familiar – connecting us constantly to history. Our South London studio looks out over the Thames – the holder of all our treasures and trash – and that’s a daily reminder of that layering too.

What sets Pond apart from other jewellery brands, particularly in terms of design ethos and customer experience?
Maybe the main thing is we’re two designers so creativity always comes first. Even with our commercial and business experience we still can’t help ourselves if we want to make something that we know we will only ever be able to sell three of! Holly has a fine jewellery background and Nat studies textiles so we really like to experiment with techniques and see what can be done.

We still make everything ourselves so people know they are getting something that has been handmade by the designer and totally unique – even pieces we make lots of are never exactly the same. This was a bit of a risk at the beginning but we’ve become more confident as people have responded so well to it.

Can you share some of the key milestones or challenges you've faced in running Pond, and how they have shaped your journey as a female founder?
It's hard because you want everything to happen straight away but the biggest lesson has been to build slowly and learn at every stage. We were a self-funded start-up so we have had to build in tiny steps. We both have young children who were babies when we started so having to negotiate new demands on our time was hard!

We have become experts in high-volume productivity in a short amount of time. There’s an immediacy of communication that comes from working together for so long, there is no time for ego and we trust each other implicitly, which is of immeasurable importance when it comes to stressful periods.

For women interested in entering the fashion industry, what advice would you give based on your experiences?
Get as much experience as you can and learn as much as you can, you will use it all even if you don’t know how or where straight away. Make and keep genuine connections with people you meet and like. Find yourself a Nat or Holly!

What’s next for Pond? Are there any exciting projects our readers can look forward to?
We’re working on a collection of hand-carved recycled silver which has been brewing for a while so we’re very excited to share it.

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