feature: we love Zaza!
Zaza de la Hey is not only a seriously talented maker of jewellery but she's an amazing friend of pam pam. Her beautiful Four One's brand creates unique, off-one pieces inspired by purposeful symbols from her travels, used to ignite positive energies. Four Ones, named after the connotation of complete balance, complete newness and the beginning of a movement in a new direction. This belief system resonates with what many of us, dream, strive and hope for in life and when you're wearing one of Zaza's pieces, you feel like you're halfway there!
If you've heard about Zaza you know that she puts so much love into every piece she creates and that positive energy derived from the Four Ones brand most certainly carries through on to all the customers that have bought her goodies from us. We couldn't love Zaza any more, which is why we wanted to share with you her latest collection, Kalbelia with you guys in celebration of International Women's Day!
Describe the concept and making process of your new Kalbelia collection.
The New Collection is called Kalbelia which translates to English as ‘Cobra Gypsy,' the Kalbelia are a nomadic desert tribe of Gypsies from Rajasthan, North India. Indian Gypsies are the first incarnation of traveler who migrated to Africa via Egypt then Europe. On my last travels to India I was captivated by the striking beauty of the gypsy folk, their way of life, dress and of course the striking silver jewellery they wore. My Great grand Papi was a Spanish gypsy, somehow it was like a glimpse into the origins of my personal ancestry…
Traditionally, the Kalbelia caste are snake charmers, the men carried cobras in baskets from door to door in villages trading snake venom and catching unwanted snakes. While the women sang and danced the snake dance also called Kalbelia. They treasure the cobra and advocate the non-killing of the reptile. Over generations, the Kalbelia have acquired a unique understanding of the local flora and fauna, and are aware of herbal remedies for various diseases offering cures to the villagers.
Whilst out in Jaipur to visit my Gem dealer I found some antique jewellery stamps, these became the foundation of the Kalbelia collection. I also bought all the Onyx and Opal for the collection and had the Fica (fists) carved out there and then set them in silver when I got back to London, I like to make everything myself but there is beauty in working with skilled craftsmen who can help bring your ideas into the tangible world.
There are lots of symbolism used in your latest collection, what is your favourite character and what does it symbolise?
It all started with the Cobra, the serpent is the Four Ones totem animal, so I have always wanted to do something with one of these guys on. As I Mentioned earlier I found a large lot of antique Indian jewellery stamps whilst I was out in Jaipur one of them being a rearing Cobra. I bought the lot with a vague idea of what I wanted to do with them, they now make up all the talisman pendants in the collection.
Eyes are another symbol that I am always drawn to and seem to keep making appearances in my work be it personal collection, collaborations and custom work.
There are many Hindu references used in your collection and the Onyx and Opal Fica pieces were handcrafted in Jaipur. When was the first time you travelled to India? What does the country mean to you?
The first time I travelled to India was about 10 years ago, my ma has been going for years and is pretty much fluent in Hindi, it was on her recommendation I visit. I can’t get enough of India and there is so much I have yet to explore there. It’s a place of extremes and contrast, you can experience the most beautiful thing you have ever seen quickly followed by the most disgusting, I am forever crying with laughter when I am travelling in India, it really does help release all the emotions.
The history is incredible, so many different religions and iconography sitting side by side. The spiritual practices are beautiful, my favourite is Puja it’s the act of prayer or offering to a particular deity or to nature to express your thanks. It’s something I have adopted into my way of living, I think it’s of importance to say thank you to the people and other living beings that enrich your life. And Finally the people, it’s really a beautiful thing to see a society built on sharing and looking after one another.
You often use couples in your campaigns and in the content you create, why are relationships and connection important to the Four Ones brand?
With Four Ones I always strive to be inclusive by making pieces that are classic and unisex. I believe everything is unisex, we should all be allowed the same freedom of expression and rights, we are all the same. So the use of couples and male/Female models is my way of expressing and showing that the pieces I make are for everyone. There is something very primal and powerful about the Yin Yang, duality of the masculine and feminine. I work with people I love and trust, all the models I have worked with are friends and all my campaigns have been shot up to date by my good friend James A. Grant, I really love his work and I think there is something unique in how he is able to show through his photography what he sees in the person he’s photographing, he’s a hero maker! I’ve also had the immense pleasure of working with James Cox aka Black dots on this shoot to produce a film for the collection, I was blown away with what he produced for me, he literally just got me and delivered exactly what I had imagined first try.
What makes you drawn to creating and making jewellery?
Since I can remember I’ve loved and collected jewellery, Gold in particular and I have always been very creative and enjoy making a mark in whatever medium feels right at the time. On a personal level I feel a very strong need to make things as a way to process all my thoughts and emotions and at the end, I am rewarded with a tangible thing.
One day I actively chose to marry both these interest and taught myself to make jewellery, that was coming up to five years ago now and I couldn't be happier.
Palo santo wood is part of your new Kalbelia collection, can you tell us more about how to use the wood and why it is beneficial?
I love Palo Santo, it’s one of the woods I burn to clear the air in my home on a regular basis, I’m very partial to sandal wood and mesquite too.
It’s a Sacred wood that has been used by Shaman and other holly men and women in ritual cleansing for a very long time. I find that not only does the smell induce a calming sensation but burning any type of incense really changes the energy and mood of the surroundings, it’s particularly beneficial in our high stress fast passed society to take a moment to just centre and be present. This is why I chose to add it to the collection, it’s of benefit to me so I would like to offer it out, if it can be of benefit to others. Palo Santo is very easy to purchase in stores or online but it has sadly become an endangered tree so it’s very important to make sure that the source is sustainable and to also rotate types of woods/plants used.
How do you combat negative energy?
It's all about boundaries for me, it’s a new thing I've learnt in the last few years, it’s okay to say no and take the time out for yourself and to be with loved ones. I find that as a first rule do the things you need to do, work hard and deliver what you’ve promised, that always makes me happy knowing I have finished an order and that the recipient is happy that fills my heart with joy, after that I need to remind myself not to over extend and spend time for myself learning new things and exploring new landscapes and creating new memories with the special people in my life.
Everything else I try and stay clear of, I've done my time with things that weren't right and I'm happy to do things in my own way now. For me that's my way of keeping the good energy flowing it’s an exchange with people and nature but it’s also about finding your chosen family <3.
What was the first piece of jewellery you owned and what did it mean to you?
The first piece of jewellery I remember owning is a pair of gold, diamond and I want to say Ruby earnings my ma gave them to me when I was very young. I was aware they were precious in sentiment as well as value so I kept mushing backs to make sure they were tightly on and I wouldn't loose them. All the pieces of jewellery I wear on a regular basis are family heirlooms, things people I love have given me and little gift I have made for myself.
As a young, entirely independent business owner, what milestones have you reached in your career as a creator of such beautiful and inspiring pieces?
First of all thank you, that's such a lovely thing to say. I would say I’ve experimented with different approaches on how and where to work. I think I have found my natural rhythm, my process is quite slow and all in my mind and then one day when i feel that the idea/piece is ready then I make it all in one go. I’ve worked in shared studios with other jewellers and it’s very interesting to see how different everyone's approach is. I now work from a private studio at Home and so for it’s the best for me.
Travelling is very important in your creative and research process, what was the most inspiring place you’ve visited and why?
Yes you are so right, travel is one of the most important things for me creatively and in all aspects of my life. Movement is important it opens up the mind and clears out the cobwebs to make space for new information, people and ideas. A lot of my ready to wear pieces are directly influenced by my travels as they've been cast from or inspired by treasure I've picked up along the way. I’ve loved every place I've visited for one reason or another. This little island we live on is pretty awe-inducing, it’s so beautiful and so rich. Anyone that knows me will know how much I love the desert there is something in what seems to be the absence of everything that to me is just the right amount of everything.
You get lots of customers after custom pieces, what is it about personal one-off pieces that mean so much to you as a jewellery maker?
I’m pretty happy with how my work load is split with custom orders and being able to carve out time to make collections of my own. There is something very personal and quite intimate about making a piece for someone. There is a leap of faith from both parties to invest time and resources into a custom project. The major reward is making something that is very special and specific to that person, for me jewellery is very tactile and comforting and bring forward fond memories of the person associated with that piece. It’s just amazes me that I am able to make special pieces for people.
Describe your perfect day.
Sunshine, Nature and Love.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever given or received?
Always keep some gold on your person when you are traveling, it’s the universal currency to get yourself out of a bind :).
What’s next in the pipeline for Zaza and Four Ones?
Learning new things through more custom pieces, I have a new collection that I've started working out and many projects that involve travel. Something that is especially important to me is using Four Ones as a way for giving back, I haven’t worked out how this will unfold but there are so many beautiful people and causes out there that I feel I want to support, all the dots are out there slowly I’ll start connecting them.