Of what value are dyed string, disparate coins and beads? But when brought together and fashioned into necklaces, bracelets and rings, they become priceless pieces of jewelry, as proven by PICHULIK, a brand started in 2012 by Cape Townian Katherine-Mary Pichulik.
The inspiration for it came to her when backpacking in India. The 27-year-old had started her professional career as a pastry chef. During a hiatus in India, she started playing around with different materials that caught her eye, and then one day on a beach in Goa, she looked at the treasures she had handcrafted and decided to turn her talent into a business.
“For a moment I thought to myself, what if I actually had a jewelry brand?” says Pichulik.
When she returned from her trip, with no money and no resources, she started crafting different pieces of jewelry on the floor of her apartment, and decided she was her brand’s best promoter. Wearing her designs everywhere she went, she lured people to literally buy them off her.
“I was walking down Kloof street wearing one of these things I’ve made, and someone said ‘oh my gosh, where did you get that from’? I told them I made it and they asked to buy it from me. I sold it to them on the spot,” says Pichulik.
It was after this that Pichulik took PICHULIK places. She got a photographer-friend to snap a few pictures of her pieces. The photos were picked up by Miss Moss, a well-known blogger in Cape Town, and soon, Pichulik was commissioned to accessorize designer collections at fashion weeks.
Today, she has a team of 10 operating out of a 106 square meter studio, has a shop in Cape Town’s waterfront, and an online store that delivers her goods across the world. She also supplies the brand to boutiques, luxury game reserves and American clothing retailers such as Urban Outfitters.
“I really embody what I do and it’s really in line with what my values are, what my interests are, what my passion is and what I really resonate with deeply. The language is bold jewelry for bold women,” says Pichulik.
In just two years, PICHULIK’s Golden Fold necklace was nominated one of the most beautiful objects in South Africa at the 2013 Design Indaba held in Cape Town. In 2014, Pichulik was named Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year by Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa, and accessory designer of the year by African Fashion International.
PICHULIK’s spring/summer 2015 collection is inspired by the architecture of North Africa and the Middle East. The colors and designs recall the religious talismans of the berbers of Morocco and the prayer satchels used in the region. Her dreams stretch beyond Africa to the rest of the world.