An Interview with Tansy Baigent of Lupe

Lupe is a company founded by ethical entrepreneurs Tansy Baigent & Dolly James. They personally source each unique, pre-loved diamond and precious gemstone piece. This is an innovative, forward-thinking business that is driven by a passion to reduce the environmental and humanitarian impact of buying luxury.

TANSY BAIGENT

Tell us about family background – geography, culture, language, and religion.

 My father was from New Zealand, my mother from England, and it was in the latter that I grew up. I spent my early years between West Sussex and Hampshire before moving to Bath. My father was an author specializing in ancient mysteries and mysticism, and filled his time (and our minds) with intrigue and exploration. He encouraged us to follow our own spiritual paths, to question everything, to truly experience life, and to believe we could make a difference.

Tell us about your story – education, prior work, and so on?

I had a rather unconventional childhood; attending many different schools including public, state and alternative (founded by philosopher Krishnamurti). After multiple school changes as a child, I attending an alternative school founded by philosopher Krishnamurti. I boarded here for three years between the ages of 13 and 16, and it was here that I learnt the value of cooperation, consideration and community. I learnt the value of mindfulness, of stillness and of alternative perspectives to the established view of the World. It was a greatly intuitive and informative part of my life.

As a young girl I had always wanted to ‘save’ the World (one of those!), and would write letters every year to Greenpeace asking how I could help. As I grew my motivations never changed despite often being told that I was an idealist, and that if I truly wanted to make a difference I must follow a long course of education. So I did.

I returned to state education at 16, attending a college in Bath before travelling for a year around the World to see new place and culture, after which I moved to Oxford to study Law with International Relations for my Undergraduate study. After these studies I volunteered for five months with a community and environmental charity before travelling once again to Africa and Eastern Europe. Upon my return I went back to University, in Canterbury, to study a Masters; gaining Distinction in International Environmental Law.

With my education complete I took a job selling jewellery, alongside volunteering as a content writer for a website, while I searched for an environmental job. The latter I eventually found, becoming Manager for an environmental charity. After a period I moved on to work as a Regulatory Analyst for a sustainability consultancy and began a business in my free time selling antique jewellery due to my enduring interest and the sustainable aspect of second hand pieces.

However, after a move to London and a thorough insight into the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, my resolute belief that I could ‘save’ the World weakened. I used to say that I had been educated out of a belief in change. Unable to see a path for myself I decided to take a break from my environmental pursuits until I could develop a plan that I believed could work. Five years later I am writing a book on the environmental issues we face, have become a holistic healer, and have established a growing business selling sustainable luxury jewellery.

 

How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?

Fashion has always surrounded me. My mother and both my sisters have all been involved in this trade. My mother designs and makes beautiful watches and bracelets from old pieces of jewellery and material, and was an interior-design consultant. My eldest sister worked as a Fashion Stylist and featured in Vogue, Condé Naste Traveller and Sky Magazine. My elder sister is a seamstress; designing gorgeous waistcoats, coats and gypsy skirts. For me, my fashion streak came out in jewellery.

I had always loved the glamour and sparkle of diamonds and fine jewellery pieces, but my heart has always been focused on sustainability and being ethical. So when it was my chance to step in to the world of fashion I knew that it would have to be with a sustainable and ethical business. For many companies it is a hard compromise, how can you produce and encourage consumption whilst still being sustainable? In my mind the only way was to focus on re-use and recycling and thus I found myself drawn to the beauty and glamour of antique and preloved fine jewellery.

Beautiful antique, 18kt gold plated, star brooch set with tapering seed pearls of well-balanced colours. Estimated to be dated to the mid twentieth century and originating from Birmingham, UK with the makers mark of Henry Griffiths & Sons who were established in 1890

 

What is the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion designers and companies?

Fashion designers and companies create the image and establish the precedent; if they are not ethical or showing the value of sustainability than buyers have no impetus to be so either. Thus ethical and sustainable fashion designers have an important role in encouraging a changing perception of fashion through ethical storytelling, and by offering a suitable and beautiful choice that is both fashionable and stylish, and ideally where the products actively contribute to a better World.

How can ethical and sustainable fashion contribute to the long-term sustainable future for the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the environment?

 The fashion industry is one of the most polluting and unethical industries on Earth and continues to be heralded as one of the most unsustainable due to its’ heavy reliance on new & fast production, long distance transportation and excessive waste. Thus, fashionable products that are sustainable (especially those which are renewable, recycled or second hand), and ethical, can contribute to the long-term sustainable future of the environment and atmosphere by offering consumers a choice away from harmful and carbon emitting production.

What is Lupe?

Lupe (pronounced ‘loop’) is a sustainable jewellery brand founded by Tansy Baigent and Dolly James, sourcing preloved and antique diamond and precious gemstone pieces. This is an innovative, forward-thinking business with a truly ethical ethos. From donating a percentage of all profits to charity, incorporating recycled materials into our packaging, limiting all our waste, and ultimately ensuring long-term environmental sustainability through the responsible resale of beautiful luxury jewellery.

Absolutely angelic pearl and diamond ring. Forged during the Victorian Era during the 19th Century this incredible 18k gold ring, set with split pearls and diamonds is in the most beautiful condition.

 

What inspired the title of the organization? 

The name LUPE was inspired by many aspects of our business. Foremost was the play on the word ‘loop’, as this relates to the circular nature of the business – the loop of reuse/recycling. We also have rotating stock, which further entrenches the meaning of loop to our business. A secondary aspect is the connection to the attributes of many of our products i.e. a ring. And finally our name was inspired by a jewelers small magnifying glass called a loupe (pronounced ‘loop’), to help one see things clearly.

 

What are some of its feature products?

 We have a beautiful collection of antique and vintage gemstone engagement rings, earrings and brooches, as well as beautiful gold and gemstone set pendants. Our products are all antique, vintage and pre-loved which gives us a constantly changing selection of pieces. However we are especially known for our collection of glass lockets and gypsy rings.

This piece contains a lovely sky blue Ceylon sapphire, which is accented on either side by two small round cut diamonds and set into 10kt yellow gold. Believed to have originated in the United States, most likely during the later part of the twentieth century.

 

What is the customer base – the demographics?

Our customer base are predominantly men in their early to mid-thirties seeking sustainable jewellery gifts or affordable antique engagement rings. Our secondary demographic is women between the ages of 26 and 60 who are seeking gifts or rings for themselves. Clients are a mix of sustainable and non-sustainable shoppers who appreciate a company where you can speak directly with the owners.

Gorgeous pair of brilliant cut diamond stud earrings with an estimated total diamond weight of 0.70cts, set into 14kt white gold. Believed to have originated in Germany and approximately dated to the latter part of the twentieth century.

Any means of contacting and getting becoming involved with Lupe? 

Absolutely, personally I welcome anyone interested in collaborating; and commercially through Lupe we are always looking to extend our connections, to develop and collaborate. So please always feel free to contact me/us through: tansy@lupeanthology.com. We are also on facebook, instagram and twitter simply type in lupeanthology.

 

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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