Spring has sprung! …Not quite feeling it? Well, to help get you in the mood of all things pertaining to the new season, nature, and renaissance this week, I bring you an interview with jewellery designers Miné Arsay and Ezgi Turksoy.
Miné and Ezgi founded the jewellery brand APPLES & FIGS together in 2015, inspired by the idea of the Garden of Eden. The jewellery is not only gorgeous but uniquely inspired by the sisters’ childhood memories and passion for storytelling. So, grab a coffee, and get ready to feel inspired!
Welcome ladies! Could you begin by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?
We grew up in Istanbul; our family was very crowded and full of inspiring women. Our mother loved collecting antiques and she has a great sense of style. As kids, we always admired her jewellery collection, and how she has always carried herself with such elegance. Our grandmother was a turquoise-lover and she had many stories to tell about the magic of natural stones. During small parties in our house, all of these inspiring women with strong attitudes and creative styles caught our attention. Creatively, we were also very free; we were allowed to draw and sketch on the walls of our home, and we used to collect sea urchin shell to make objects or jewellery. These were then exhibited as artworks or decorations in our living room. We have always found nature inspiring!
What an awesome, creative childhood! So, how did you get started in the industry?
We both studied Costume Design & Product Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. We were always very interested in jewellery from a young age, therefore, we decided to combine our fields and create a jewellery brand.
"Seeing the brand grow and flourish gives us more energy and passion to work harder."
It sounds like it was a natural progression for you both then. How and when was the brand born?
We launched the brand in 2015. Before APPLES & FIGS was born, we were both working in different creative fields in London, however we were looking for the best time to pursue our vision together. We always had a dream to build a brand as sisters; watching the brand grow each day gives us great fulfilment.
I bet! And in what ways do you consider sensitive skin throughout the process of selecting the materials to use in your jewellery?
We understand sensitive skin perfectly; both of us suffered with skin allergies from a young age. We use non-allergic metals such as sterling silver and 18K Gold. We also strongly believe in the healing qualities of natural stones, so we use a lot of natural gemstones as the crown of our jewellery.
They are really gorgeous! Which strategies would you say have been key to the success of APPLES & FIGS?
We are always in close communication with our customers and we believe this is the key to success for any brand out there. We love what we do, and we try to keep a good work/life balance!
That is certainly rare! I think I might be able to guess, but what is your favourite thing about having started the brand?
Definitely working together as sisters and bringing our vision to life! We love creating and there is nothing better and more satisfying than hearing very positive feedback from your customers, friends and family. Seeing the brand grow and flourish gives us more energy and passion to work harder.
Absolutely! And in terms of your day-to-day, what is the best part of your job?
Seeing the collections come together for each season and the editorials we shoot together is true creative pay-off.
It makes all the long days worth it, I’m sure! Why do you think it is important to consider the materials in jewellery, beauty and fashion?
We live in an era where fast fashion has taken over; consumerism is playing a big role in society. The planet is devastated by irresponsible consumption. We believe jewellery is very sentimental and becomes a part of you, therefore we are against selling anything we wouldn’t like to keep for a lifetime ourselves.
It sounds like sustainability is very important to your business then…
We work with a small team of wonderfully skilful craftsmen; we know them very well and we know the production process very well! It is not a business model built on volume; we produce in small quantities, we produce on demand, and we never have dead stock. We don’t follow the ordinary fashion seasons. Instead, each season, we produce a new small collection with a sub-story; and all the bestsellers of the previous seasons transfer to a main mother collection called ‘Garden of Eden’. Each new-born jewel complements the main story of the Garden of Eden, which is where the name of the brand came from. Nothing goes off-season. Nothing goes to waste. We use recyclable sterling silver and prioritise natural stones. We are aiming to create jewellery you keep for a lifetime.
I love your philosophy! So, what is your absolute favourite piece that you have ever created?
We love all our pieces, and every piece completes the story.
What were your biggest challenges in starting up a business?
The biggest challenge was the first push; getting everything in the right order and building a strong system to push the brand into the market. The right introduction into the market is vital. Once you are recognised, then it is about expanding and meeting everyone’s expectations.
"The brand pays great attention to storytelling, therefore each seasonal collection has a unique story behind it, connected to our brand’s main theme: Garden of Eden."
What do you think makes APPLES & FIGS stand out?
APPLES & FIGS stands out by bringing various gemstones and high craftsmanship at affordable prices for strong, independent woman with great style. The brand pays great attention to storytelling, therefore each seasonal collection has a unique story behind it, connected to our brand’s main theme: Garden of Eden. We always take inspiration from nature, which is reflected in our design language.
That is so unique! What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
Our first interview with VOGUE.
What inspires you?
Self-confident, self-loving women with tons of character inspire us. Stories and mythology inspire us. Nature has always been a great inspiration in our lives and is still a strong element in our design language.
Could you walk me through what your average day looks like?
Everyday starts with a cup of coffee or sometimes a matcha latte, and a good walk in the forest. We both live in green areas and pay attention to spending time in nature. The rest of the day depends on the season and our plans during that month. Usually it would involve meetings, customer care, order processing and atelier production, research, and of course, we always go out for inspiration.
Do you think you have a work / life balance?
We try to keep our work and personal life in balance. Sometimes it’s very difficult as we are sisters and each personal conversation ends up being a business discussion. APPLES & FIGS is very personal to us, therefore keeping it completely separate will be a struggle... until we both have our own families; then, we will have to!
What words do you live by?
“Everything happens for a reason, everything leads to something better,” “Know yourself” and “Life is short, make every minute count.”
Finally, what’s next for the brand?
Our AW20 collection is launching soon and we will be in Paris next week to introduce the new collection “Sunset Idyll”. We are also very excited to expand further in USA and Asia.
Like what you read? Head to APPLES & FIGS to find out more. Or if you fancy checking out some previous interviews you can find them here. All images are via APPLES & FIGS.