Welcome to How It’s Made. Where we go behind the scenes with your favourite brands to find out how their most popular products are produced. For our next instalment, we visited one of our favourite jewellery labels, Petite Grand.
If you're yet to meet Petite Grand, allow me to introduce you. The fine jewellery label has been quietly gaining a cult fan base since it launched seven years ago. The delicate pieces are instantly recognisable for their quality craftsmanship and unique designs.
They are your special wear-everyday pieces that become your signature. An item you rarely take off that has meaning. Each piece is handmade, making it even more special.
Our obsession has been reaching peak levels, so we caught up with the label's designer and founder Tanja Kovacevic to find out more. Keep scrolling!
Who What Wear Australia: How did you launch Petite Grand? Did it start as a hobby? Did you have a plan?
Tanja Kovacevic: I worked in fashion for many years before I became restless and wanted to make something with my own two hands. I enrolled in an evening sewing course and a silversmithing course to keep myself busy. I was completely hopeless at sewing but took to making jewellery straight away. When I made my first ring it was such a turning point for me, I realised how much satisfaction it gave me and how naturally it came to me. I started making some pieces for myself and then friends asked me to make it for them too. It wasn’t so much of a plan but more of a feeling. That was over seven years ago now, and Petite Grand has grown so much since then and I feel fortunate every day to be running my own business and doing what I love.
WWW: Where’s your studio? Are there many people in your team?
TK: There are five of us in the Petite Grand team and we work out of a beautiful sunlit studio in Surry Hills. Our studio space has high ceilings, large windows and is full of light and plants, some vintage furniture and woody-smelling candles (and on most days my dog Max comes in). I’ve tried to make it a place that feels like home to us—somewhere we can all feel really productive, but also have a cup of tea, chat and wind down.
I love coming across something unusual, and experimenting with new materials is a big part of what I love about my job.
WWW: That sounds so lovely! Where do you source your materials and metals?
TK: Honestly, everywhere. Precious metals are sourced from the same suppliers, leather from some wonderful local Australian leather houses. Other elements such as beads and findings I like to source when I am travelling. I spend a lot of time in marketplaces and if I find something I love I’ll ask who makes them so that I can use them in larger quantities. I love coming across something unusual and experimenting with new materials is a big part of what I love about my job.
I think people are also ready to have a bit more fun with jewellery and embrace their wild side.
WWW: What do you think will be the next big trend in jewellery?
TK: I try not to focus too much on trends but I think in general people will be drawn to pieces with more character and colour. For a while it has been quite pared back and minimal, which is lovely, but I think people are also ready to have a bit more fun with jewellery and embrace their wild side.
WWW: Where do you find your inspiration?
TK: I’m always inspired by my travels but inspiration can come from anywhere. From a friend who’s done something inspiring, a movie I’ve seen or a book that I’ve read. My A/W 17 collection was inspired by a Shakespearean play. I also love looking through historical archival images of jewellery, there’s always something new to be seen from there.
I also love looking through historical archival images of jewellery, there’s always something new to be seen from there.
WWW: Talk us through the process from start to finish of creating one of your signature styles—right up to the piece being packaged for the customer.
TK: Everything we make is made-to-order, so for customer orders we always know who we are making each certain piece for. One of us will work on the same piece from start to finish. It gets handmade, soldered and polished on site. Then we slide it into one of our velvet pouches which we slip into a Petite Grand envelope, then we pop it in the post and it’s off!