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Melbourne label Made by Charlie is creating the jewellery of your dreams

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Zeïna Thiboult FOR MADE BY CHARLIE

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“I’m influenced by the ties that jewellery carries, as it’s essentially a connection to somebody, a history, a natural evolution.”

Jewellery is imbued with a certain kind of sentimentality. Okay yes, sometimes it is just a shiny hunk of metal (I wore a pink toe ring for a while and I can tell you, no thought went behind that decision), but jewellery can also be so much more. It can symbolise new beginnings, capture momentous occasions or act as a reminder of the past.

Melbourne designer Charlie Poustie is fascinated by the family ties a piece of jewellery can carry. Inspired by her dad’s work as a metal fabricator, Charlie was introduced to silversmithing by one of her friends. After a period of creating pieces for her collection, she eventually launched her contemporary label Made by Charlie in 2018.


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Charlie’s style has become increasingly distinctive, a delicate balance between baroque-era elegance and contemporary construction. Four years since the launch of Made by Charlie, the designer reflects on the past and looks to the future.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion/jewellery background?

 

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From a young age, I’ve been working creatively in many fields. I was likely influenced by my parents, who both worked in the industry – Mum as a textile/accessory designer and Dad as a prominent metal fabricator, working alongside sculptors in Melbourne.

Being around Dad’s workshop and assisting with his projects sparked a fascination with fabrication. The process of joining metals and learning to manipulate, heat and hammer steel intrigued me. Silversmithing was an early discovery, introduced to me by a friend… I’ve always been interested in the techniques involved in creating something from start to finish.

How did the label get started? Talk to us about the process and the challenges.

I started creating my Made by Charlie designs solely for my collection. I’d originally gift pieces from that collection to friends and family. However, I felt increasingly drawn to the idea of becoming a jeweller. When I finished studying, I was lucky enough to gain some guidance from other jewellers and creatives.

I feel like I spent the first couple of years experiencing trial and error – like having to search for a lost diamond in my studio with a sock over the vacuum cleaner – but I wouldn’t change anything. The business has come into itself naturally, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the future.

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

 

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In the beginning, it was very much about the creative process and developing my skills. As I started to fully immerse myself in my business, I began to develop a style as an artist. My work became intuitive, I started blending my dreams and creativity to find new ideas. This way of creating has helped me develop a more personal and collaborative process with the client.

I’m currently exploring the concept of intergenerational family history and repurposing heirloom pieces. This kind of work aligns with my values of sustainable design, where I can care for the planet and work towards being a zero-waste business.

How would you describe Made by Charlie to someone who’s never seen it before?

I’d describe my work as contemporary handmade luxury pieces, with a little essence of sculpture in there. Every piece is made with the environment in mind, as I have a deep respect for conscious design.

What inspires your work?

I draw a lot of my inspiration from the natural world. I find nature is ever-changing but always constant. In the same way, I’m influenced by the ties that jewellery carries, as it’s essentially a connection to somebody [and to] a history. My inspiration has come from my own experiences, like receiving stones from my family and recognising the many hands that have come in contact with them.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label?

 

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Being given the space to meet an individual and hear their story has been so rewarding. Seeing a piece come to life and witnessing a client’s imaginings turn into a physical thing is pretty beautiful. I feel very grateful to be invited to create delicate personal heirlooms.

What do you wish you knew when you started?

To not undervalue my art and be more aware of my worth as an artist. To create with confidence, without fear of making mistakes. My advice to myself would be to just get started with an idea and not hesitate.

What about the Australian fashion/ jewellery industry needs to change?

It would be great to see more creative businesses working towards a regenerative approach, where they’re doing more than being sustainable. This means giving back to the community or the environment when they can.

 

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I also see a lot of manufacturing and sourcing from overseas, but this is having a huge impact on the environment due to transportation emissions. If a business has the resources to be able to source materials and even create its products locally, it would be a big step in the right direction for conscious consumption.

How can we buy one of your pieces?

Through my online store. I also take bespoke consultations through my website, Made by Charlie. I have my pieces at Commune Gallery located in Northcote and the Uncommon Shop in Christchurch.

Browse the Made by Charlie collection here.

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