Happy Monday. Happy new week and a very happy Bank Holiday to everyone in the UK. While in Camden Town I popped into the C/159, a new creative retail space for Camden and part of the Camden Collective. Upon entering I stumbled across the handmade jewellery of Zingi Zongi and stopped right there.
I was curious and wanted to know more about who’s behind the jewellery.
How did you get into making jewellery? I’m from Athens in Greece, and about 4 years ago I decided to make a piece of jewellery for myself. It was just an experiment as I’ve always loved doing things with my hands. Once I made it, I carried on and made 50 pieces.
What happened next? I simply told my mum I would go and sell my jewellery on the street. My mum just laughed and didn’t believe me. You see, in Greece you need a special licence to sell anything on the street but there was one particular street where no licence was needed. So I headed over there and was immediately intimidated by seeing everyone had big stalls. All I had was my small bedside table and a wooden stand to display my earrings.
How did it go for you? Well, I made €30 on my first day and sometimes I even earned €200. The only problem was that my friends came to hang out with me and we ended up spending all the money on food and drinks. Oh well, it was fun!
So now you were officially a business woman? Haha. Not really. I sold on the street of Athens for 6 weeks. Then I met a woman who had a shop in Athens selling small furnishings and accessories. She liked my jewellery and offered me to take part in her 1-day bazaar over the Christmas period. It was buzzing and I made between €300-€400 that day. I had the opportunity to repeat this in her summer bazaar, which equally went well for me.
You were studying while making your first attempts at Entrepreneurship! Yes, I was studying in Athens and in September 2012 I enrolled in a Masters Degree in digital marketing in Southampton, UK. Then a year later I moved to London to find a job in marketing and luckily after only one month I found a job.
With a full-time job in marketing, now what? I was living in Kentish Town and came across Camden Market. I applied for a stall and got my mum to send over my jewellery stuff. It actually weighed nearly 20kg. I did Camden for 1 Saturday only. It was outside, cold and wet. This put me off till the summer when I tried my luck again and decided to do the weekends. The company I worked for closed down. I had already spotted C/159 collective from the bus on my way home. I googled them, applied and got an appointment for them to see my jewellery. I first got a trial, from Friday to Sunday. That went well. They then offered for me to stay for 2 weeks. After that, I got the maximum offer of staying for 6 months until October this year!
Tell us about your jewellery. I’ve collected stuff forever and my mum threatened to get rid of most of it because we were running out of room. I have a particular passion for collecting toys, cords, beads and I’ve always liked the idea of recycling. I have a lot of things like crochet bits and vintage jewellery from my grandmother and so I incorporate it all into my jewellery. I started being really fascinated by liquid glass techniques and enjoy treating found images.
Are a lot of your pieces one-off’s? The majority of the pieces are unique and I cannot make an exact copy as many of them have some beads, chains or vintage things that cannot been found again. I had many of the plastic animal toys and made a lot of rings with them. They’ve all gone. In a way that keeps me creative and always striving for more ways of making interesting handmade jewellery. If people are interested in a particular jewellery piece that is out of stock or they wish to customise, I’m always happy for them to email me.
This brings me nicely to my own customised pieces. Nikoletta is in the process of making me a long necklace with a plastic giraffe and some of my own feathers and jewellery bits.
I’m also going to be the proud owner of the ‘Save the Polar Bear’ necklace here below. I’ve requested a longer, silver chain with a different bead as hat!
Look at the gorgeous treatment of his paws….. that’s why I love Nikoletta’s jewellery. Beautiful, fun, playful, recycled and very affordable! I have a lot of old jewellery I no longer wear or use. I look forward to Nikoletta up-cycling some of it to give it a new lease of life!
Now, this beautiful camel brooch was one of my favourite items. Nikoletta has kindly agreed to donate it to my giveaway here.
The giveaway is open worldwide and will end at 6pm GMT on Monday 2nd June 2014 where one winner will be randomly chosen. Good luck everyone!
Thank you Nikoletta. I hope that the idea of getting a job in marketing is becoming less and less appealing! This post will stay live until Monday 2nd June. Happy week everyone x
We have a winner. Congratulations to Alison Sye. The Camel brooch will be sent to you.
You can find Zingi Zongi at:
159, Camden High Street