LNO Jewellery is a New Zealand boutique founded by Georgie Caldwell! The amazing thing about this company is that 10% of all sales go to The Mario Salome Ferro boys’ orphanage in Cusco, Peru. The money is used to help improve the lives of the boys who live there – LNO actually stands for ‘Los Ninõs Olvidados’ which means ‘the forgotten children’. The jewellery range features necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings made from either silver or gold.
In this Q & A with Georgie I asked her about the jewellery design process, the challenges of starting up a new business, the orphanage, her business philosophy and of course, her holy grail beauty product.
1. What led you to Peru and the Maria Salome Ferro orphanage?
When I was almost six years old, my parents came to my sister and I and announced that we would be getting a baby brother. Due to my mothers health at the time, they had decided they were going to adopt. Six months later and a trip across the world to Russia, they returned with my brother, Dan. Dan had already spent two years in the orphanage, before coming into our family and as I got older, I became curious as to what those first two years of his life may have been like. So, after I graduated university, I decided to volunteer at the Maria Salome Ferro orphanage, to get an understanding of what growing up in an orphanage is like.
2. What kind of assistance does the orphanage need to stay up and running or to grow further?
There are many things that the orphanage and the children need. I am very aware of how valuable LNO’s contribution is, but I have to be realistic that our contribution is still small. I am hoping that with brand exposure and an increase in sales, that this contribution can grow and allow for some bigger projects to be accomplished e.g educational sponsorship, or building refurbishment. But in the meantime, LNO largely supports replenishing supplies of medicine, clothing and other essentials.
3. How did you come to design jewellery? Was jewellery design always an area that you saw yourself working in?
Art and design has always been a passion of mine and such a large part of my life. So, when I decided that I wanted to start up a social enterprise to support the orphanage, I knew it needed to be based around a product that would allow me to express my creativity.
Jewellery has always been something that has been given to me by the people who are closest to me, and as a result, symbolises love and family. It made so much sense to me to use jewellery, which carries this beautiful symbolism, as a means of supporting the Maria Salome Ferro orphanage and the boys it houses.
4. It’s fantastic to see a designer be so transparent about exactly what percentage of the sale goes towards helping others and where the money goes. What’s the philosophy behind your business?
The cornerstone philosophies behind LNO are paying-it-forward and doing so in a very honest, transparent way. When you undertake the making of a product, you also take on the social and environmental impact of it’s life-cycle. With that in mind, all of our jewellery is made ethically by local NZ jewellers and we do our very best to recycle our materials wherever possible.
The concept of slow fashion runs very deep throughout the design process, too. We try to create pieces that are quality and timeless, so that our customers can wear them for years to come. Equally, we don’t try to keep up with the fashion and release new collections every season, rather our process is slow, organic and refined and we typically only release one or two collections a year.
In a nutshell, we design for the conscious consumer.
5. A lot of the readers here are working to develop their own passions into businesses. Has it been smooth sailing returning to New Zealand and starting up your own business? What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
To be frank, no. It has taken a lot of courage, a lot of time and a lot of hard work. The good news is that passion makes it all possible – If you are doing something that you love, all the long hours don’t feel like work.
One of my biggest challenges has been trying to work out the optimal percentage to donate to the orphanage per purchase. As there are so many costs involved with creating the products and running the business, it has been a struggle to strike a balance between the trade-off of giving to the orphanage and sustaining/growing the business.
6. Can you tell me a bit about the design process and the inspiration behind the collections?
The process usually starts with inspiration about a certain design idea or theme. For me, inspiration rarely follows any logic, it is just something that grabs my heart and becomes all consuming. This inspired idea can then be extrapolated out and refined repeatedly until I am left with a curated collection of designs that can all be traced back to the original theme.
LNO’s new range is Tesoros Del Mar Collection, which is Spanish for “Treasures Of The Sea”. Growing up in New Zealand, the sea was my source of peace, inner calm and creative energy and the Tesoros Del Mar Collection is my way of honoring Aotearoa and it’s beautiful, rugged beaches.
The collection combines the lustre of freshwater pearls, with the stony, smoothness of sculpted silver and gold, and draws on my childhood imagination of buried treasure and what this might look like.
7. You have a stunning collection of jewellery and a very distinct style – out of all the pieces you’ve designed, do you have a favourite?
My favourite pieces are probably the Bola ring or the Perlita ring. These two pieces are onesthat I never take off. For the times when I want to dress an outfit up, I love to wear the Playa Rocosa earrings. There is something about those perfectly imperfect baroque pearls that I just love!
8. Because this is a beauty blog I think everyone would love to know (myself included!) do you have a holy grail beauty product that never fails you, be it makeup or skincare?
My Sukin facial cleanser and moisturiser are two things that I will not live without. I have very sensitive skin and find a lot of skincare products too harsh and leave my skin feeling dry and irritable. But, my skin loves Sukin. One of the things that originally drew me to the Sukin range is that all their products are made with ingredients that are naturally derived, cruelty free and vegan.