A creative heart and a career in retail and graphic design was the foundation stone of a precious setting in jewellery-making, writes STEPHANIE AZZOPARDI
TORQUAY’S Kirsty Lief knew from a young age that she would be a creative.
And her simple, geometric and on-trend handmade jewellery is what she knows she wants to put her creative energy into.
Kirsty, who was born in South Africa, moved to Australia when she was just seven years old.
“There’s nothing like being a seven-year-old in a school ground with a funny accent to make you really aware of yourself,” she says.
“I think it was then that I learnt I had creativity in me.
“I remember realising that the other kids found it difficult to understand me and as a result I found all sorts of creative ways to initiate play with others.”
Kirsty dabbled in dance, music and art lessons as a child, then, when she was older, studied graphic design.
“I worked in retail for much of my teens to early 20s and I think this gave me a great insight in to how to run a business,” Kirsty says.
“I’ve also always been drawn to working in a creative capacity for small businesses, and I’ve worked at a letterpress studio, a few boutique design studios and most recently a tea company as their all-round creative person.
“I’ve always tried to make time and room for pursing my own creativity, whether I was working full time or casually, and I’ve done my best to pursue a career doing something that I love and that I find creatively fulfilling.”
Kirsty’s first go at jewellery-making was part of a year 12 design project.
“The brief was to design a logo for a made-up company, and I designed an entire jewellery business and range around the logo instead,” she says.
“Then in my first real job as a graphic designer, I pretty quickly realised the profession requires being creative on someone else’s terms, because that’s where the money is.
“I started making laser cut jewellery for a bit of a creative break from my day job, took my wares to a local market and sold out of my products that same day.
“I saw the way people connected with my work, and walked away from a purchase with a smile on their face, and I was hooked.
“I was so excited that I told my boss about it, and when I finished up at that job she gifted me the most beautiful wooden artwork by David Bromley and said ‘I don’t think you’re meant to be a graphic designer’.
“That stuck with me, and every time I look at that piece I’m reminded of where it all started.”
Kirsty’s love for crafting and her eye for graphics design has given her the best start, being able to not only make beautiful items, but present them in a beautiful way online as well.
The business elevated when Kirsty went overseas, hoping to be inspired by new ideas.
She took a metal smithing course and things clicked for her.
“Despite the fact that I had just filed a single piece of metal for three hours straight and my fingers were on fire and missing a few layers of skin, I just knew that I had finally found what I wanted to channel my creativity into,” she says.
Each piece from Kirsty’s range, which she describes as minimalistic, is made from precious metals and designed, formed, soldered, polished and buffed by hand.
The elegance of the range goes from staples to statements, and she is constantly trying to think up new ideas.
“I always get my best ideas in the shower, and I sketch things into the fog on the glass just to get it out of my head,” she admits.
Life right now for the 30-year-old is all about a balance between building the business and family time. Any spare time she has is spent with her husband Josh, seven-week-old baby Oscar and dog Lola.
The new mother creates between naps and on weekends.
“I’ve learnt to be much more efficient with my time,” she says.
For Kirsty, that sense of knowing she is making something that is truly cherished by the people who buy it, is a feeling of fulfilment.
“I love the way I can take something raw and unrefined, and through a very messy process, which is full of blackened fingers and a trail of dust, grim and metal shavings, create something that is not only beautiful, but can also become a part of someone’s story,” she explains.
“Jewellery has a beautiful way of working sentimentality into people’s lives, and I love being a part of that.”
Follow @kirstylief on Instagram or visit kirstylief.com to shop.