Interview with Asia Clarke – CEO & Creative Director, Wild Moon Jewelry
Asia Clarke, CEO & Creative Director of Wild Moon Jewelry, speaks with Scott Douglas Jacobsen.
Jacobsen: As a youngster, what were some pivotal moments to set the life path for you, in fashion?
Asia Clarke: When I was in high school I was really into punk rock and old school 70s and 80s funk music (because of my parents’ awesome music taste). I went to a catholic high school and had to wear uniforms everyday, but I always looked forward to “Dress Down Day” which happened once a month. I remember my regular wardrobe being a mix of goth outfits and 80s exercise outfits that I would mash up to create my own style. Peers used to make fun of me by calling me Fefe Dobson because of the rock influence in my personal style as a young black girl, but I didn’t care because I knew I stood out and I was dedicated to being creative in the way I adorned my body.
Jacobsen: Did education help in the development of skills relevant to the interests in fashion?
Clarke: I studied environmental science at York University in Toronto, and my research interests were always the socio-cultural implications of pollution and environmental degradation. It is with this lens I approach jewelry design – I try my best to manifest the Wild Moon Jewelry brand into an example of how we can create new cultural artifacts with a conscious respect for Mother Earth. I was also educated at the Academy of Jewelry Art in Trinidad and Tobago, a place that has greatly shaped my own cultural identity.
Jacobsen: Wild Moon Jewelry is within the global movement of ethical and sustainable fashion. As a fine jewelry company, what is the inspiration behind its title?
Clarke: Wild Moon stands for all the interconnected beauty in the world that we cannot begin to comprehend. ‘Wild’ is for the intuitive nature of all beings, and ‘Moon’ is to acknowledge our connection to celestial beings. I hope to inspire wearers to be aware of their greater place in the world and in the universe. My use of recycled and repurposed materials is my own solution to the need to create earth centred and ethical personal adornment for people worldwide.
Jacobsen: What were some of the first products sold by the company?
Clarke: I have always done bead and wire work in necklaces, earrings and rings incorporating semi precious stones such as quartz, onyx, turquoise and pyrite just to name a few. I have used them because I know these stones can represent and enhance the symbiotic relationship between people and their intuition through the earths minerals.
Jacobsen: How does a company CEO ensure the socially and environmentally friendly aspects of the source of the materials for the company’s products being sold?
Clarke: For different businesses the process to sourcing ethical and socially responsible materials is different. For my business, I try my best to visit the direct source of materials I am using in order to be sure that I am sourcing the best materials for my designs. For example, in this collection I use recycled glass beads from Ghana. I visited the factory myself where they were made and witnessed the process by which the factory collected glass bottles and used traditional techniques to produce beautiful beads for jewelry designs. I also use a lot of recycled materials in the Kokrobitey Collection that was diverted from waste sites.
Jacobsen: How are the Obrapa Women’s Group and the Kokrobitey Institute in Accra, Ghana helping with some of the products?
Clarke: The Obrapa Women’s Group is a collective of awesome women in Accra, Ghana that work together to make jewelry as a means of economic and personal empowerment. They also work as peer educators for HIV / AIDS affected communities in underserved areas in Accra. They use traditional jewelry techniques with glass beads made locally in Ghana for their designs. I have partnered with them to design their last two collections which are available in Wild Moon Jewelry’s online store.
The Kokrobitey Institute is an art, design and sustainable development centre just outside of Accra, Ghana. At the Kokrobitey Institute I recently completed an artist residency where I created a body of work using recycled materials diverted from waste sites to create one of a kind jewelry pieces. This one of a kind collaboration is also available in my online store.
Jacobsen: Will there be collaboration with the group and the institute in the future?
Clarke: I hope so! The Obrapa Women’s Group and Kokrobitey Institute are both based in Ghana and I plan to return to Ghana in early 2019.
Jacobsen: Where do you hope to take Wild Moon Jewelry into 2019?
Clarke: I love making jewelry and learning new techniques to expand designs using as ethically sourced materials as possible. I hope to be able to learn new jewelry skills every year. I also have a passion for working with Women and Girls in personal and social development projects so I plan expand the scope of Wild Moon Jewelry to incorporate this.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Asia.
Clarke: Thank you too!