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5 Minutes With... Puck Wanderlust

by Emma Foreman

Puck Wanderlust consists of designer duo Hannah Keywood and Ranelle Chapman. Although the concrete jungle of London is their home and where they imagine and design each piece, they have followed the shimmering lights around the world to find the finest stones & artisans to work with. We spent 5 minutes with the pair to get a taste of their design process.

How did Puck Wanderlust begin?

Ranelle: In 2013, we were both struggling to find meaning and fulfilment in the fast paced nature of what we were doing working in the creative industry. Later that month, we visited Frieze art fair together. Seeing a game changing exhibition called ‘Old Jewellery’ by Kara Hamilton. She was creating pieces from old bits of jewellery to create something new and beautiful. It was so inspirational how you could take something used and forgotten and turn it into something desirable again, giving it a new lease of life.

Hannah: We had always had an obsession with jewellery and this was when our interest how we could use quality recycled materials came to the forefront. We wanted to abolish the nature towards fast fashion, instead creating timeless pieces with longevity. With a strong connection to India through our travels - we knew this was the place we would find the talented craftsmen we wanted to work with, as well as the beautiful gemstones to craft with. The culture in India holds a special place in our hearts and there is a lot to be learned from these spiritually free and giving people.

Hannah: The two of us met working in buying for a large fashion brand in 2007. Ranelle was actually my boss and I was on my placement year from university!

Ranelle: I then went on to work as a hair stylist working primarily in the fashion industry. For three years I assisted the international hairstylist Johnnie Sapong, travelling the world on various shoots and campaigns and working at his London base, Johnnie Sapong | The Studio. Now I juggle freelancing as a session stylist for clients such as Harrods, Mr Porter, Temperley and for publications such as Vogue UK, Cosmopolitan, Instyle and Harpers Bazaar – as well as running Puck.

Hannah: I graduated from university in 2009 with a degree in fashion management and went travelling around South America. I came back to reality, interned in fashion PR and at ITV studios, then took a fulltime role in the ‘special projects’ team at Ted Baker, joining the green team there and having the opportunity to train as a beekeeper! In 2013 we started plans for Puck and I took further study in illustration and graphic design at Central St Martins and I joined creative agency Studio Juice as an account manager- working with fashion clients Adidas, music label Island Records and beer gods Camden Town Brewery, which I left in Nov 2015 to go fulltime with Puck.

This summer I qualified as a yoga teacher so am now teaching rooftop classes, as well as private one on ones and covering classes at an East London studio where I trained, Stretch London, alongside running the jewellery biz!

Have you always been interested in fashion?

Hannah: I’ve definitely always liked to experiment… I was interested in the fun side of fashion. A LOT of fashion faux pas over the years!!!

Ranelle: I grew up in that ‘customisation’ era where everyone was sewing on patches and it was all about DIY. I remember once when I was little thinking I was really cool when I cut my neighbours new dress in half turning it into a crop top and fashioning a new shorter skirt by tying the back into a bow. My mum dragged me round to the neighbours mums house to apologise but afterwards let slip that she was actually really impressed with my creative spirit!

What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far?

Ranelle: Highest point: When the first sale came through our website that wasn’t a family friend or a friend of a friend, that was pretty exciting! And in more recent times it has to be going to India to film the behind the scenes process of our jewels being made. We did a little filming around the backstreets of Jaipur with a film crew and drew quite the crowd. I think people were disappointed to find out that we weren’t the Spice Girls!

Hannah: For me the high point was leaving my 9 to 5 to do what I love, and be my own boss… The low point was also leaving my job and being my own boss! A new found vulnerability appeared and I was like ‘what have I done!’. Thankfully it was short lived and I now know 100% made the right choice to take the leap - life is too short to not follow your heart.

What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?

Ranelle: We wanted to tie the collection back to India, as it's one of our favourite places and the place where the first collection was made. The colours, the architecture, the folklore… The superstitions!

Ranelle: There are loads of stories our Indian team have told us about evil spirits and magical beings. We literally sit for hours listening like little kids entranced in a fairytale!

Do you ever struggle to stay inspired?

Hannah: In all honesty, at the very beginning it was a struggle to keep motivated and not question yourself when the results weren't immediate. Having to pick yourself up and keep going is tough, there were days when we thought ‘why did we want to start a jewellery business?’ But you have to keep believing in what you’re doing and eventually other people do too.

Ranelle: It’s hard living somewhere like London and not finding inspiration everywhere. There are so many different cultures and personalities, it really is a melting pot for ideas. Also we love to travel too. If anything we have we have to bite our tongues sometimes to stop going off on wild tangents and snap back to reality and back to the invoice we were writing!

Hannah: What is challenging is taking an idea and making it into something commercially viable. We are both dreamers so have to remind ourselves to reign it in sometimes!

Where is your go-to meeting spot?

Hannah: There’s a really great Americana rock n roll café in Shoreditch where we always used to meet, you can always get a table and they do a seriously good cup of tea.

Ranelle: Day to day we work from our studio in Stoke Newington. There is a big garden with a pond and frogs and fish. It is important for us to be connected to the outdoors.

Hannah: We recently adopted a stray black cat who showed up one day. We thought he was a good omen so we fed him and he has never left!

How would you describe your customer base?

Ranelle: Really diverse, you couldn’t really put an age on it. A lady once got in touch as she was looking for a gift for her granddaughter. She wanted something special as it was her 21st birthday. A little while after she got back in touch and said kept seeing the power ring on her granddaughter and wanted one for herself in a different stone!!

Hannah: We want to be ageless and inclusive. We even get guys buying our power rings to wear on their pinkies, which is just amazing!

Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs?

Both: ELVIS!

Ranelle: Obviously we would need a time machine…

What are the morals you run your brand by?

Ranelle: All our designs are handcrafted and made to last, we only work with genuine people, employing sustainable methods, where possible, from packaging to production. Each stone we use has been hand selected using folklore as a base for inspiration. We want each piece to have its own story, something that’s personal and has meaning for the wearer.

Hannah: As well as loving gems and shiny things, we started Puck because we want to give something back. As India is where we develop our jewels, we thought this was a great place to start. There’s a huge movement happening in India at the moment, which encourages women into the workforce. The idea is to train women in different skill sets, who then work as master trainers for other women, causing a ripple effect. We’re currently investigating how we can get involved - watch this space!

Do you have a mentor?

Hannah: It sounds a bit sad but probably our mums! They have always supported whatever we want to do and told us just to be ourselves.

Ranelle: It’s true- our mums are both strong, independent female role models, which was so important growing up. My mum had involvement with many projects, including fighting for equality for women and disabled rights. Hannah’s mum joined the Kibbutz- a communal settlement in Israel, aged 17 and then when Hannah was born the family moved to Canada, choosing a sustainable lifestyle including chickens, home grown vegetables and living an organic life in the wild - as a trade off for having latest Gameboy or Nintendo.

What apps keep you sane?

Hannah: I allow myself a real guilty pleasure in Snapchat! That faceswap craze nearly sent me over the edge, I don't think I have ever laughed so much! People we're getting really ingenious, my friend Charlie swapped faces with a Russian doll! But I think I won with my faceswap of the Blink 182 ‘Enema of the State’ cover...

Ranelle: For me it's Spotify, we like to have themed days in the studio that reflect our moods. I love the ‘Chances with Wolves’ playlists. And if we have a lot to get through and need to concentrate we align the music accordingly and sometimes if we're stressing out and getting nowhere - Hannah calls a 20 minute meditation to ground us back down to earth!

If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?

Ranelle: The power rings, it’s where we started and they are our signature piece.

Hannah: I agree. My labradorite one hasn't left my finger since we cast the original samples almost 3 years ago!

What’s the biggest style mistake you’ve ever made?

Hannah: In summer 2004 I wore baby blue velour tracksuit bottoms with PINEAPPLE emblazoned on the bum and high heeled pastel pink timberland boots. In the daytime, to college.

Ranelle: Probably everything between the ages of 16-21… There was a lot of customisation, I once made a dress out of shammy leather. It wasn’t the best in the rain, but it cleaned up my stepdad’s car a treat!

Is there another designer whose work you particularly admire?

Ranelle: We’re not really that cool, or huge fashion followers... It’s always been more about personal style and expression rather than knowing who the next big designer is, or who had the best show this season. But Vivienne Westwood stands out for me as having such a strong brand identity. She is a real positive female role model, her designs are timeless, you could literally buy one of her pieces and still be wearing it in 20 years.

Hannah: I feel like all of a sudden everyone around me is doing really interesting things- whether in music or film or fashion or art! People I never thought would grow up… and now we're all like ‘wow, I never thought you had it in you’.

Ranelle: So true… our friends at Wool and the Gang and Flook the Label in particular are doing great.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Ranelle: My Yorkshire grandad used to say ‘Stop frowning - the wind will change, and your face will stay like that’, it reminds me to smile!

Hannah: ‘Take it Easy’ - that was advice from The Eagles, one of my parent's favourite bands who I grew up listening to and something so relevant especially in today’s crazy fast paced world. Slow down, lighten up, breathe!

What drew you to Wolf & Badger?

Ranelle: It’s a great opportunity to reach a global market and sell alongside so many really talented designers.

Where do you see the brand in 5 years?

Hannah: Hopefully continuing to do what we love, working with interesting people, in interesting places.

Ranelle: We have loads of up and coming collaborations and avenues which we are exploring so will definitely not be standing still – watch this space!