I first met Kat Atkins, the effortlessly cools brains and brawn behind One Leaf Jewelry when I was completing my Education and Visual Arts degrees. We both lived on campus in the same dormitory. Kat was a bundle of energy, a total livewire, passionate about colour, nature, and she saw beauty in details. Little did I know she would become a designer of some of the most unique, inspired, beautiful and straight up COOL jewelry I’ve ever seen. I interviewed her to see what makes her tick.
First of all, how did you come up with the name ‘One Leaf’?
My older sister was the one that got me thinking, she said “It has to be something that represents you, what’s important to you, what you like, your style, like – jungle, islands, beaches, waterfalls…” So after a day or so of brainstorming, I really started to think about all the pieces I had made – there were so many different ones, but my favourite piece at the time were the ones with leaves in them…hence One Leaf! This also incorporates the fact that majority of the designs are one of a kind, unique and special like the people wearing them!
What lead you into jewelry design?
I have always been creative but lived an active lifestyle working in the outdoor adventure industry, so anything arty became my downtime… I lived on Hamilton Island for 3 years and there was no room in my tiny room for big canvases to paint so beading was it, something I could do even on my bed! The jewelry that I wore the most were pieces that had been made and given to me by friends, they weren’t anything fancy, like a shell on some leather or a traditional necklace from my Solomon islander friends. These pieces were special and made just for me and became apart of me, something I wore everyday! Not having access to many shops living on an island, I was able to make jewelry and give as gifts to my friends! I had a about two years break from making jewelry as a hobby and explored different jobs on the island, travelling to Africa gave me a lot of inspiration and then I moved to the Gold Coast where I ended up breaking my wrist and needed to regain some fine motor skills so having greater access to supplies the beading started again and now cant stop!!
I would love the luxury of being able to draw the design and make the pieces from scratch, but unfortunately I do not have access to the tools required. So for now it’s really piecing the designs together as I go, sometimes it feels like a puzzle or I’m playing Mr. Squiggle to see what works, but I am very particular about the supplies I source. I might have a particular bead or pendant that I want to feature and then I will go from there. The design usually changes a couple of times before I get the end product and the studio table of bead spreads further and further! I use products from all over, some times I will stick to a particular colour or have all the beads from a particular country for a piece and then other times I will mix it up completely! I don’t try to copy what other jewelry designers are doing, I like the freedom of not sticking to the norms and having a variety of designs, as everybody is different. This keeps me on my toes too! And if everything was the same – that would be boring!
So when you’re sourcing your materials, are you looking at environmentally friendly options?
I do try my best! Where possible I love to buy fair-trade beads, these are the most unique beads too! All sterling silver supplies used are made from 100% recycled silver. All silver, steel and metal products used is also hypoallergenic. It may cost more than silver-plated brass (which a lot of fashion jewelry is made from) but I know I am getting a quality product and it’s environmentally friendly.
I understand that most beads are manufactured so I am continually researching supplies, but like the sterling silver, I do look for the ethical value and will always buy the environmentally friendly supplies over others. I stay completely away from cheap manufactured plastics. One day I want to be able to travel to numerous countries where the supplies are still made by hand and sit with the craftsmen and women to see how they do it!
My favourite pieces have also been made from upcycling beads from an old vintage necklace or other beaded jewelry. Some pieces have been quite sentimental to people, as it has been a necklace given to them many years ago that has broke. I am able to pull it apart and make it into an exciting brand new piece still holding onto the same sentimental value!
What’s your biggest source of inspiration?
I am continually inspired by the evolving wonders of nature, the beautiful moments in everyday life and embracing other cultures. When a piece is finally completed I then go and journey off to photograph them in the same environments that inspired them in the beginning. This is my never-ending source of motivation –as nature is always changing. When people think colours of nature they usually think earthy colours, which I do love but there is also so many bright colours out there – in a sunrise, in a coral reef and the fish, wildflowers, even fruit! The luscious greens of a tropical rainforest with a sparkling waterfall… I could go on and on! I am also inspired by my customer’s own unique styles. I enjoy the challenge of a custom-made order; it pushes me to get even more creative to make such rare pieces suited to the individuals. I do feel lucky that I’ve somehow managed to merge my two passions together of being active outside and then being creative in my downtime to now create ‘one leaf’ and get the best of both worlds!
That’s so cool! If ‘One Leaf’ had a motto/mantra/mission statement, what would it be?
Motto: ‘Inspired by nature, designed for the zest of life.’
Mission: With unique and distinctive jewelry designs, One Leaf encourages everyone to embrace their best selves and celebrate the joys and adventures offered by life.
Kat, thanks so much for sharing your story with us and the creative process behind your amazing designs! Good luck to all those who enter the One Leaf competition!
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A $100 Voucher to be spent on any piece from any collection at One Leaf
How To Win:
Step 1: Share this image (below) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram:
Step 4: Comment on this post to say you’ve shared it, preferably with a screen shot (we won’t always be able to see the shares due to your privacy settings)
That’s it! Good luck!
The legal bits:
- The major prize is $100 voucher to be spent at One Leaf.
- The competition opens 1pm Thursday 16th May 2013 and closes 5pm Friday 31st May 2013.
- You can enter more than once
- The competition is open to residents of Australia only.
- The voucher is valid for 4 months from the date of receiving the voucher.
- One Leaf gift vouchers can only be used at the One Leaf Online Boutique.
- Gift vouchers are non-returnable, cannot be redeemed for cash and must be used in full.
- Please note only one gift voucher may be used per order.
- Where the purchase cost of the product + delivery cost exceed the value of the gift voucher, additional charges may apply.