Last year, our hometown PepTalks saw Meekz Contemporary Jewellery take out the Peppermint Pitch prize – wowing the audience with a line of sustainable, recycled and reclaimed accessories. To find out more, we caught up with the brand’s Jemica Ostrofski, who talked us through the inspiration behind the range and her commitment to working only with repurposed materials.
What inspired you to get started?
In 2009 I graduated from the Queensland College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Art with First Class Honours, after majoring in Gold and Silversmithing and gaining a passion for minimalist sculptural form. I relocated to the country to be with family in 2010 – transforming an old horse stable into my studio and pursuing my jewellery full-time. My work’s always been grounded by my exploration and focus on connecting objects to place, and the memories associated with these connections. So my move to the country has strengthened my sense of home and what that means to me, and given greater meaning to my work.
Where do you find the materials for your jewellery?
All my pieces are made using recycled, reused or found materials that were destined for the bin. I aim to source them all locally – materials include acrylic from old signage plaques; aluminium from fencing, roofing companies and road signs; plastic, fabric and various odds and ends from Reverse Garbage; and stainless steel, copper and brass from scrap-metal factories. My gold and sterling silver is sourced from op shops, and in large quantities from metal suppliers who purchase products that are made and recycled with the environment in mind, and manufactured in Australia.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I achieve a balance by working from home. I have a separate studio space where I design, create, make and teach classes. I love doing what I do and so my job’s not a chore – I’m my own boss and work my own hours. I sometimes work long days but I can take time off whenever it suits, and I love to explore gathering ideas and new designs from nature itself.
How do you hope to see Meekz make a difference?
I hope my jewellery helps highlight the importance of sustainability. My creative use of recycled materials – transforming old or preloved items into new and appreciated ones – is a strength, and I enjoy the process. I love to do my bit for the environment and help reduce waste one piece at a time. My customers can hardly believe that my jewellery was once something old and unwanted – they love to support and own one for themselves, knowing that their new piece has a rich history, is supporting a local designer and is 100% ethical, sustainable and handmade.