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Spotlight: Meet Kristin Weixelbaumer From Black Betty

Founded in 2012 by South African designer Kristin Weixelbaumer, Black Betty is a South African based jewellery and piercing studio. We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Kristin about her passion for jewellery design and their latest brand collaborations…

Why did you first launch Black Betty?

Black Betty began in 2012. It was born from a combination of my 10 years of experience in the design world, and my love for gemstones and jewellery. I was brought up in a design-oriented and entrepreneurial family with creativity at the forefront of our work ethic, so establishing an arts-based, local business, became a natural path.

When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career as a jewellery designer?

My true journey began when I decided to radically change my life and spend almost a year in India. It is here where I found a new connection with myself through yoga, tarot reading, reiki and crystal healing. This process was strongly linked to the healing powers of metals and stones, and this is where my path in jewellery design was formed. It was a natural progression, one filled with inspiration and raw passion.

Tell us about the philosophy behind the brand…

Our aim is to create unique and distinctive pieces for those who are drawn to striking jewellery with an emotional connection. We create jewellery that plays with the boundaries between contemporary style and ancient beauty. As such, we use natural hand-cut gemstones and precious metals.

Black Betty also values the individual – each one of us is formed with different imperfections, desires and passions. We, therefore, create our jewellery with this philosophy in mind, allowing each piece to be an expression of your unique personality.

What has been the single most important jewellery-making skill you’ve learned?

The art of soldering would have to be number one! A good, invisible solder is fundamental in forming high-quality jewellery. Another incredibly important skill is the art of creativity – this is the ability to generate new and attractive ideas and designs, communicate this in design form and adapt them to various tastes. Creativity also extends to the use of materials. It includes finding new and creative ways of integrating unusual or modern materials and processes into jewellery-making. This skill is useful at every stage of the design process, from conception to prototyping and product development.

Describe a typical day for you at Black Betty?

Always starting with my morning coffee (after a cold sea swim), I then jump into various combinations of emails and team meetings (from marketing to sales to manufacturing). This is usually followed by brainstorming a new collection or bespoke piece, and hunting for gemstones and designing beautiful pieces. When I have time you’ll find me researching and exploring new or different ways of creating jewellery. The jewellery world is ever-growing and I feel so lucky to be part of it.

What is your favourite material to work with?

Flawed stones are definitely my favourite. I can never get enough of the unique stories they tell. I love finding the best way to set them to show off their natural markings.

What inspired your creativity with your newest collection?

Our latest collection is all about winter’s palette. We wanted to take our classics and favourites and create something fresh and new to welcome in the new season. It was a beautiful process of re-visiting pieces that mean so much to us and see how we can re-envision them.

Who has been your biggest mentor and what is the best advice they have given you?

My mother, Kathrin Weixelbaumer – the most stylish woman I know. Through her I have learned to be relentless when following my passions.

What do you want women to feel when wearing your pieces?

Connection – to themselves and the earth.

What’s the secret behind your collections that makes it so unique?

Each collection has a different story to tell. We explore different gemstone combinations and new jewellery techniques. I am most excited about our Unisex Collection, which we are launching in November.

What is your personal favourite piece in your current collection?

It would have to be our Tourmaline Lotus Studs in Gold.

We’re finding more and more consumers expect companies to have a sustainability focus. What is Black Betty doing to address this?

Black Betty is devoted to following sustainable practices. This is true for our daily routines and work in the jewellery studio, and for our operations in sourcing gemstones and diamonds. We believe it is a privilege to be able to create beautiful pieces and heirlooms to be passed down from generation to generation. However, this cannot be done at the expense of the environment or society.

SUSTAINABLE GUIDELINES

We use a picking solution to clean our metals instead of sulphuric acid, which is safer for the environment. We also save our metal filings to send in for refining, re-using metals wherever we can to decrease unnecessary wastage.

ETHICAL SOURCING

We only source through the ethical guarantee of The Kimberley Process. This process is there to ensure that diamonds are not sourced from conflict regions and that there are no human rights violations undertaken when retaining diamonds.

CONSCIOUS PRODUCTION

The majority of our products are made in South Africa by our in-house team of jewellers and goldsmiths, or by trusted partners in the Cape. We also put emphasis on made-to-order products, to ensure we are not overproducing.

For the summer months, Black Betty donates 5% of our online sales to a charity of our choice for the month. We are devoted to donating to charities that look after our earth and the women of South Africa. We also have some new exciting upcoming plans which we are unveiling soon.

Tell us about the design of your new store interior and the collaboration with Weix Studio?

I grew up in an incredibly creative family with interiors and architecture being central to our family culture. Weix Studio (previously known as Weixelbaumer Design) is a family business specialising in residential, commercial and retail interiors, with a strong focus on bespoke design. I was able to work on Black Betty’s HQ with my sister which has been an absolute dream… And best of all, she nailed it!

The brief to my sister and owner of Weix Studio, Klaudia Weixelbaumer (@weix_studio) was to showcase the essence of the brand through the interiors – badass, powerful, soulful, shiny AF, memorable, and beautiful.

I had said to Klaudia, ‘I really wanted the interior to be captivating, exciting and to incorporate Black Betty’s signature palette (black, white and gold), while still allowing the jewellery to be centre stage’. I feel this has really been brought to life and the most beautiful and perfect stage has been created to showcase Black Betty’s jewels.

With this in mind, Weix / my sister focused on making almost everything about this project bespoke and unique. From the hand-painted gold wall by Conscious Colour to the layered and adorned chandeliers by Jacques Erasmus. From hand sculpted torsos and hands by Unplinthed to the cabinetry by Hot Orange… and the list goes on. Each piece was carefully designed to be as practical and sexy as possible.

A match made in heaven

“They say a project is only as good as the client is brave, and lucky for us that Kristin is fearless. She trusted us – possibly because we’re family – to push the boat out and try to avoid “off the shelf décor,” says Klaudia.

For more about this amazing local brand and Kristin’s passion for jewellery, be sure to visit Black Betty online, as well as in-store in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Check them out at https://blackbettydesign.com.

 


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