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MEET MOBOLAJI SADARE, THE AFRICAN JEWELLERY DESIGNER WITH STRIKING YET MINIMAL PIECES

Moblaji Sadare’s route into the jewellery industry was no ordinary one. The self-taught, Lagos-based owner of Ōchá Jewellery, studied fashion merchandising and international business at university, then got her start as a fashion buyer and retail consultant. She made the decision to design jewellery after working on custom pieces for a womenswear designer.  Mobolaji’s work is informed by her passion for collecting and her eye for the exceptional and the unexpected. Since starting her business four months ago, Mobolaji Sadare is becoming more and more recognized for unique and timeless pieces of jewellery.

With its distinctive mix of minimalism and African influences, Ōchá Jewellery has so far been under the radar but shows sign of promise and is starting to garner a following. Each piece, designed and handcrafted by the designer, aims to be a conversation-starter. Sculptural and striking in the simplest of ways, Mobolaji’s unequalled pieces are the jewellery equivalent of modern architecture. DIY and lo-fi, or highly worked masterpieces, the appeal of the hand-drawn, self-assembled approach is strong. Nothing says sophistication quite like the effortless and clean lines of a classic design. Her jewellery isn’t designed for trend-followers, it’s designed for those who want to buy jewellery they have a connection with and that will last them a lifetime. SCHICK chats to Mobolaji about upcoming trends in the jewellery industry, her love for art and the Ōchá Jewellery woman, enjoy!

Q1: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a jewellery designer?

I’ve always been a DIY kind of girl, so I’d look at items online and try to recreate it for myself. Back in June 2017, I’d seen some earrings I loved but couldn’t get shipped to me, because Nigeria, so I just made a version for myself. Quite a few friends asked if I could make some for them after that. But I think the definitive moment was a few months later when a friend of mine, Dunni Lambo, asked if I could make some custom pieces for the SS18 collection of her label, Ladunni Lambo. I remember sitting in her studio working on the designs and deciding this was an avenue I wanted to explore properly. Dunni, and a few of my other friends were super motivating so I decided to go for it. 

Q2: Who have been your biggest mentors in this industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you?

I actually haven’t had any mentors in the industry as it’s been such a short period of time since I’ve started. So far I’ve kind of been winging it (laughs). But I’d say my mom and my uncle have been amazing and supportive when it comes to giving me general business advice. It’s been truly invaluable.

Q3: Tell us about your design style. What makes your collections unique in the industry?

My pieces are something I like to call ‘African minimalist’. Sounds contrary, I know, because those two terms imply two very different things. But I like to work with simple, interesting silhouettes that include bright colours (which is where I think the African comes in).  I think that that fusion of African and minimalism is something that sets me apart from other brands.

Q4: What kind of person wears your jewellery?

Women who love adding conversation pieces to their outfits, and who appreciate out-of-the-box designs.

Q5: As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?

All over the place. I do particularly like drawing inspiration from product design and architecture. One of my designs, the Anaïs, was inspired by a light bulb. Another, Noro, was inspired by archways.

Q6: What’s it like to see someone on the street wearing one of your creations?

It’s such a great feeling. The best way to describe it would be a mix of elation and disbelief.

Q7: What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created – and what made it so special?

That’s a really tough one.  Probably has to be Thando or Noro. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because they are not common silhouettes.

Q8: What are upcoming trends in the jewellery design industry?

Pearls are making a comeback I believe. Also, statement abstract designs, mismatched earrings, clear resin, and baroque designs. 

Q9: Who are your favourite designers?

Definitely Annie Costello Brown. Her Matisse inspired pieces are a dream. Also, Luiny for their interesting shapes, and Dinosaur Designs for their use of colour.

Q10: What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the jewellery design business?

Start with what you have and build from there. Also, trust your instincts when it comes to your designs.

Q11: You’re also an artist, which we find incredible! How do you navigate the art world in Africa?

I experiment with all forms of art; photography, graphic design, painting, drawing. I’m trying out sculpture for the first time. So that’s a bit daunting. However, I do see the sculptures as an extension of my jewellery design.

Q12: Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?

No, not really. I’ve always just created because I wanted to. But it did lead me to study fashion at university.

Q13: Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?

Probably Salvatore Dali. It would be interesting to see the way his mind works and what his artistic process is like. And Da Vinci because he’s probably the most talented man that’s ever lived, in my opinion.

Q14: What visual references do you draw upon in your work?

In my art, it really depends on my mood, but I do like lots of abstract, and geometric shapes.

Q15: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?

You’re going to be all over the place, and that’s fine. As long as you have purpose.

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