Known for its charmingly abstract designs, Los Angeles-based jewellery label CLED is on a mission to shake up the industry by championing upcycled materials and ethical manufacturing. As one of CLED’s latest U.K. stockists, we decided to sit down with founder Seulye Jo to find more about the label’s inspirations and processes.
We’re so excited to be one of your latest stockists here in the UK. For those who aren't already familiar, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to start your brand?
I have a background in visual communication and jewellery design. After seeing a lot of materials wasted in jewellery and accessories production along with the use of low-quality mass-manufactured materials like plastics in the fast fashion industry, I’ve wanted to create a brand that would be sustainable and eco-conscious. A few years ago at a beach clean-up, I found beautiful pieces of sea glass and it triggered the idea of using glass. We first thought sea glass would be great but it would not be enough and so we thought of glass, which can be found anywhere and everywhere. Doing research, we were astounded that only 35% of glass is recycled in the US and the rest ends up in landfills. So we decided to transform trash into treasure!
What does CLED stand for, both literally and figuratively?
CLED is derived from the words upcycled and recycled. The acronym stands for Conscious Lifestyle Eco-Friendly Design. CLED was created to be a sustainable lifestyle brand and we strive to follow this in all our creations.
When it comes to design, what kind of references do you draw from, and how do they adapt season after season?
The process of designing a new collection is a little different since we make our own Eco Gems. We’re always drawing inspiration from nature and our surroundings. We’ve showcased the effects of climate change and water conservation in our Floating Glacier and Ashore collections.
Could you divulge the inspiration and development process behind you signature Eco Gems?
This is one of the most difficult, yet gratifying parts of our design process! When creating a new collection, most of the time is spent on creating the right Eco Gem for designs. This involves countless experiments and prototypes until we find the shape and color that we are looking for. We created our own upcycled Eco Gem instead of using mined gemstones or materials made from plastic.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to it than upcycling materials. Could you tell us about the hurdles you’ve had to overcome, such as packaging and logistics, to get the business operating from an ethical standpoint?
All our packaging, from our signature circular jewelry box and shipping boxes, are made from either FSC certified or recycled paper. Even the glue and inks used in the packaging is food grade water based glue and plant-based inks. This involved a lot of research and time to find the right manufacturer. The metals we use are sourced from ethical refiners in the US and are all casted and made locally in Los Angeles. We know where all our materials come from and that is important to us to be a sustainable brand.
What advice would you give to someone starting out on their first sustainable venture?
We think taking a step towards sustainability is better than not doing anything! We are not perfect and we are constantly learning and finding new, better ways to do things. It’s not easy as there can be many challenges, but keep on going - it’s rewarding in the end as you know you’re doing something better for the environment.
How can we, at home, make small-yet-impactful everyday changes to do our bit for the environment?
It can start by choosing materials like glass, wood, and paper over plastics. Consuming less meat and having more plant based meals!
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