Studio Visit: Caroline Hjerpe
Caroline Hjerpe’s jewelry-making journey began at her kitchen table. “I started making jewelry out of curiosity,” she says. “It was never meant to be anything other than just a fun hobby between work and school. After a while, my friends started asking for rings and everything just grew super quick. I found out about Tictail shortly after, which made all this possible for me—now it’s growing and is bigger than I ever could have imagined.”
Today, the self-taught designer produces an entire range of sterling silver and solid gold earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings, all made to mix and match. She models her own work regularly, sporting up to 10-15 rings per day. “It’s possible!” she says. “I feel so naked without them.” Read on for the full story.
Hi, Caroline. How did you get started doing what you do?
It all started when I decided to take some time off university. Then, the two extra jobs that I had—yes, I have always had a lot going on—emailed and said that they wouldn’t need as much help due to cutbacks. I felt like I needed something to do instead and talked to a friend who told me to stop by a place called Silververket in Stockholm. When I was there, I told them to give me all the basic things I needed to make a ring. Typical me, I didn’t know anything and just bought a lot of stuff. Then I went home and tried to make a ring, but it didn’t work. I got annoyed and put it all away for a week or two. But stubborn as I am, I tried again and I made one ring, which I now call Hlin. After that, I just kept going.
How do you come up with the names for your pieces?
My pieces are named after my best friends and loved ones. I’m trying to produce something special, a special product, and all of it is handmade by me. All my pieces are unique. They all look different—no one will have an exact copy of the one you have. That is the central thing about my jewelry: uniqueness. Everything looks handmade, and that’s the way I want it!
Which of your designs is your favorite?
Oh there are so many, it’s hard to pick a favorite! love Dino’s Diamond; I wear it everyday. But also Axel’s Tooth because it’s so different. And Vera Top, which is simple but still something else. It’s impossible to pick just one!
How do your products go from concept to creation?
For me, [jewelry-making] comes really naturally—that’s what makes it so cool! I’ll just get an idea, usually when hanging out in my workshop, and try it to see what comes of it. For me, it’s like therapy. It’s not anything I consider a job. I just love it.
What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a client so far?
A girl who bought, like, six rings from me told me that she never wore rings. She said she just had to have all of them, since she loved them so much. That was pretty cool. But the best feedback is, honestly, every time I get an order. You should ask everyone around me—they know how happy I get when I get an order.
You opened your first brick-and-mortar shop last year. What’s been the best part of having your own retail space?
I opened my shop at the end of May 2016, two years and two months after making my first ring. It’s amazing to be able to meet my customers in real life. Many of them have their hearts set on something special, but change their mind when coming to the physical shop because it’s always easier to find what’s right when trying things on. It’s so much fun to actually be able to talk to people and to help them find the perfect size and design—and also, of course, the shop’s brought me a lot more sales.
Do you ever regret doing your own thing and starting your shop?
No, absolutely not. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made. Every time I get an order, I feel such joy. I love making jewelry and I love that people want a piece that I’ve made. I still cannot believe it sometimes!
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
Yes. Just do it! I never saw myself as a silversmith, believe me. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. But everything is possible. You just have to throw yourself out there and see what’s going to happen. If it works, great. If it fails, no worries. At least you tried!
What are you looking forward to in the new year?
2016 has been an incredible year, in so many ways. I just cannot believe how much has happened, and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 has to offer. If sales keep going up, I’ll need to change a few things to be able to keep up with production—that’s both super fun and super scary. But overall, I’m so, so, so happy, I love my job and I love that it’s growing more and more each year.