by Tonia Papamichalopoulou for "Yes I Do"
Guided by romance, tenacity and talent, she introduces the jewelry brand that doesn’t follow trends… but creates them!
Jewelry – true works of art – that bears a strange energy and reminds you of beautiful creations that only nature knows how to design. KAKURU Jewelry creations have at their center human relationships, emotions, and the place where their designer, Elina Kakourou, comes from – Lakonia. There, where olive wood and marble are inexhaustible sources of inspiration for custom-made jewelry that tell a different “story”… your own “story” of life and love.
Yes I Do spoke with the charismatic designer and presents you the shiny world of KAKURU Jewelry!
How did the KAKURU Jewelry journey begin?
I think one thing led to another, with several psychological ups-and-downs and internal struggles, until I decided that I wanted jewelry to be my main activity and not just a hobby. I studied something else to begin with (economics), started a jewelry company with a friend from Colombia and then, once our plans took us in different directions, I went on to do jewelry design in England and then to the silversmithing school in Greece. I tried, alongside the school, to work at jewelry workshops, so that I’d acquire better technical knowledge. At some point, scared but determined, I decided that, in order to show my own designs, I’d have to dedicate myself completely to my own brand. I asked my family for financial support to create my own workshop and store, and that’s how the journey began. It was fairly romantic to begin with, but then the pandemic came along, and we all had to cope with difficult circumstances. In spite of that, I feel like I “matured” in unprecedented conditions and became stronger, more adaptable and, in certain cases, more creative.
Did your studies in Business Administration help you creatively in your career as a jewelry designer?
I don’t know whether they helped me creatively, but they certainly helped to keep me going during the pandemic, since I knew that there are always difficulties in business, smaller or larger. Especially in Greece, where I think a new business meets a lot of challenges at the start, my studies in business administration kept me calm, to the extent that it was possible, during difficult years. I do think, however, that due to the family business and having experienced various ups and downs since I was young, which are mostly connected to risk and problem solving, I can confirm that experiential learning is, and always will be, the most important thing.
“I draw inspiration from my emotions, my experiences, and anything that makes me dream,” you’ve said. What else has inspired you in your collections?
I am hugely inspired by human relationships; I observe them a lot. I have been in therapy for years and I am very interested in analyzing myself, and thinking daily of our various interactions in this world. That, of course, gives rise to many different emotions, which help me, each time, to convey the corresponding “energy” to a collection. Above all, however, and always, I think what inspires me is nature, which can embrace you, ground you, lift you up; water can trickle over you and take away whatever weighs you down. It can create the most beautiful works of art, which are an inexhaustible source of inspiration in themselves.
How would you describe your personal style? Is it reflected in your jewelry?
I would describe it as casual, since I am at the store every day, but I want to be able to pop up to our workshop at a moment’s notice and do what needs to be done. But there will always be something on me that I’d like to accentuate. Showcasing the jewelry is certainly a priority; you will no doubt know what I do when you meet me. I also really like color, so you’ll rarely see me in dark shades. I think that’s why the store is so bright, despite not having many colors; it’s got that wonderful shade of green/blue that was created after several tests, and all of our packaging moves along that same “obsession” of mine, for shades of green. The jewelry is created with the same thought: wearing it, at any time of day, and depending on your personal style, it makes you feel comfortable, but also emphasizes what you need in order to highlight your uniqueness and tell your own story.
What materials do you mostly use? Do you like to experiment with new materials and stones?
I love to experiment and, if I had the time, I’d do it more frequently. We make our jewelry mostly out of gold and silver, and our collections include organic materials, such as olive wood and stones such as marble, which come from the same place I do, Lakonia. In the last few years, precisely because I love to experiment and to challenge myself, I am always working on custom jewelry, whether it’s an engagement ring, wedding rings, or a special item of jewelry. That gives me the opportunity to spend more time with the person or persons who want a custom-made item, and that way their energy, their personality and their personal taste guide me to design the jewelry that will reflect all of that.
It is often also connected to whether a stone will be used, and the options of stones, in that case, are endless. It could, for example, be a diamond, or the colored stones that I love, and I think I’ve used them to make my most distinct engagement rings – such as green emerald, or blue sapphire, or a combination of many different ones. I believe that the more my work evolves and the more my experiences grow, it will make me want to discover and to experiment with various materials that may inspire me. Also, coming into contact with the stories of my “clients”, they will often take me down paths I’d never thought about before, and that’s the most beautiful creative process.
How would you describe your aesthetic as a jewelry designer in 3 words?
Organic (I wish that was a term in aesthetics) – meaning that I mimic the aesthetics of nature somehow; emotional (this may all sound strange) but, in a sense, I mean that I’d like us all to be connected by a story, when we look at or wear at item of jewelry; timeless, precisely because it’s connected to nature and not seasonal trends.
Is there an emotional connection to the jewelry?
To me, it’s all about the emotional connection! There is always a story behind each item or collection I design, and I express my feelings through them. Many times, I can see that several of our clients relate to these stories and choose the respective item, or that it urges them to create their own stories, to express their own feelings and relate to them.
Weddings! What can weds-to-be find at KAKURU Jewelry?
Depending on their overall style, they can find statement jewelry to express their personality, or “quieter” and more discreet items that can be elegantly combined with what they are wearing. There is always the option of custom-made jewelry which, as I said before, I love. The conversation often starts with the color of the metal they have chosen for their rings, how the engagement ring will complement the wedding rings, and if we’d like to draw attention to the face or, for example, “decorate” the hands if they’re uncovered, or create a nice sort of layering on the body. In addition to their weddings rings, the couple might often also want jewelry that they can both wear, such as our Forms bracelets, which are very discreet, worn on the wrist, and which we can personalize with engravings so that they are unique and carry the couple’s energy.
Which women or brides-to-be would you like to see wearing your jewelry?
I dream of women or brides-to-be who strive and fight to live their lives free of limitations and what “must” be done, who love to pay attention to detail, who like to experiment with different things, who express all their feelings without fear but with passion, who try to make the world around them better with small acts, who don’t hesitate to change direction when something doesn’t turn out the way they expected, who love or are learning to love themselves. I generally dream that my jewelry is worn by people whose look expresses what’s inside of them, and their jewelry helps them achieve that.
Do you follow international trends when you design? Which new trends should we be following, as a bride or as a guest?
The truth is, I don’t follow any trends when I design. Even when I’m designing our charm for the new year, where you might easily have similar stimuli as other creators, I avoid looking for anything relevant before I start designing. I think images can be imprinted within you easily and unconsciously, and later come out in your design. What I’m scared of in my collections is repeating myself; I like to stick to our forms but for each collection to bring an evolution. So I don’t really believe in trends. Recently, a man was interested in an engagement ring, and we had this big discussion on the fact that, while researching the topic, he was informed that a round cut for the diamond is “more appropriate”, or that it “must” be bound with white gold. To me, there is no “must”. What matters is whether you like the design that you can see, whether you can imagine your other half wearing it, and what your instinct tells you.
So I think that, as a bride or a guest, it’s lovely to wear jewelry that brings out our own uniqueness, to combine them with our own story or even the concept of the outfit we’d like to create, because that way we are presenting our own perspective on “fashion”, but in a way that showcases our personality.
Tell us about your next steps. What does the future hold for ΚAKURU Jewelry?
These last few years have proven that long-term plans may not turn out the way we imagine. So I don’t know what’s in the future for KAKURU Jewelry. What I do know is that my own battle and that of my team, to improve and to develop our jewelry, its design, its construction and our services in general, is fought daily! I want to make it in the day-to-day, to get through each difficulty, to enjoy our work, to draw pleasure from our clients’ reactions and all that we offer them, and to have nice collaborations! I want us to evolve gradually, I no longer want fireworks because what I care about is that we sail gently though time. What we do plan for the immediate future and is on the making is our new collection, which we hope will come out for the first time in fall/winter this year, as all the others have come out in spring. I also hope that our custom-made jewelry will keep growing, because it’s something that I love, it gives me great pleasure and I draw so much strength from our clients’ joy when the jewelry is delivered.
You say Yes I do….
I say Yes I do to walks in nature with my dog, to many ice creams in the summer, to meetings and excursions with good friends, to open-air cinemas, to a glass of wine at the end of the day, to French fries, to a stroll through Athens at night, to meeting new people and endless conversations, to wearing colors and always at least three items of jewelry, to freshly cut fruit and juices, to activities and spaces that promote all forms of art.
You say No, I don’t…
to moving around Athens in a car, to interacting with people who aren’t polite, to wearing dark colors, to going to the same places, to neighborhoods without character, to not thinking about the person next to you.