Last year I visited Morena in her home to ask if she’d join the Gifted Local platform. It turns out she's pretty multi-talented and not only makes jewellery but is also a full time website designer and SEO expert (I ended up picking her brains quite a bit over the following few months as I was launching the site!). Here we discuss hair loss, lock down and the Queen.
Tell us about Kodes Accessories
Kodes are handcrafted bold geometric jewellery for the modern woman to empower her to express her personality. The brand is born from a need for affordable investment jewellery pieces, the perfect statement necklace that packs a punch, the item that you would wear at an interview, where you’re still dressing conservatively but you want to still express your creativity and personality.
Why did you start your business?
I have had Alopecia Universalis since I was 10, I was left with no control over my hair. Through the years I eventually made peace with my condition and I think I found in jewellery the way to express myself and my creativity. I then realised other women around me were using jewellery to do exactly the same, for different reasons.
I think my jewellery also represents a little rebellion inside me towards growing up in a society in South Italy where everyone strived to wear the same designer items. I learned that luxury can be an item which is handmade, with love and care, by a designer maker rather than a high street brand or a designer brand in a factory.
How do you feel when someone has bought one of your items?
To know that someone has bought one of my jewellery pieces to express their creativity and personality makes me so happy. I have started Kodes for the modern, independent woman, who likes to express herself and who likes to be bold and quirky and make a statement through jewellery. I believe we should all embrace our inner style and wear it every day. In terms of how a purchase helps me, this has been an interesting journey I'm on! I've been able to reinvest my profit into learning how to run a small business. From photography (both buying equipment and learning myself, to hiring a full team for model or lifestyle shoots), to branding and planning and marketing. It's an amazing opportunity to learn how to run a business without huge risks and further my skills.
How do you ensure your business is sustainable?
As Kodes utilises a lot of wood, acrylic and silicone as materials for the products, I offset this by planting trees all over the world with a company called Treedom.
For my packaging, I use paper and recycled packaging as much as possible.
What has been your proudest moment?
One of my proudest moments was when a customer had bought one of my necklaces to wear to meet The Queen in an official engagement! To know that she used my bold jewellery to express her bold personality made me feel accomplished!
What’s the best & worst thing about running your own business?
The best thing is that I love learning lots of new skills but the worse…lack of time. I work full time in order to support my family and time is so limited when you have a little one, even when you have a super husband!
Where do you get most of your work done?
I work at home, but I have gone to Green Rooms in Wood Green to tame my costs spreadsheet couple of times. It's great to work in a creative and stylish place like Green Rooms, where the coffee and the food are also very good!
How did you feel when Gifted Local contacted you to be part of the site?
I was very happy to be more part of my local community. Tottenham is changing every day and I'm proud to be part of this change, but I don't know many other fellow local artists and definitely want to get to know the community more. I like the idea of a central place where you can find all local artists near you and that they can hand deliver the items you buy, so you can shop locally and also save time!
Where do you live, what do you love about it and what could be improved?
I have been in Tottenham for 6 years and we moved here because we could finally find a house we could afford of the size we were looking for and a lovely garden.
I love the transport connection. I didn't know how close I was to Central and East London until we started looking for a house to buy but I do wish there were more local cafes and gift shops.
How do you support your local community?
Now that I have a full-time job, my own business and I am also a mum, going to Central London to buy presents is not as easy. I've also learned by trading at different craft markets that you can get really thoughtful items handmade by talented artists. As I'm often at markets during the weekend, I take the opportunity to buy gifts for my friends and family there.
How did you find lockdown & what are you most looking forward to after lockdown has finished?
Lockdown has been interesting. I've had lots more time to create new products and spend time with my son. But I really miss my friends, eating out and just enjoying having a drink in a bar or a pub. I miss going to second hand and charity shops. We'll definitely be regulars of Cuffley Car Boot sale, which is now on every Sunday! I love hunting for retro items and car boot sales are the best places for them!
But most of all I miss my parents and my family back in Italy. I really would love to be able to go to see them, but I would not want to put them at risk at all. So we have to cross our fingers and hope a vaccine is coming soon.
Where's the best place for coffee?
I love Craving Coffee near Seven Sisters tube station, but I wish there was a cafe with such good food, coffee and atmosphere closer to where I live.
What is your best postcode secret?
I love The Westbury N22, it's our local pub. The manager and all the staff are super friendly, including towards children and dogs and the food is superb!
Finally, what is your Top Local Love
I love the pond in Lordship Recreation Ground. It's one of the most peaceful places I know. There's a specific spot where I often go and just listen to the birds singing.
Photo credit: Yelena, Lordship Recreation Ground
Check out Morena's range of bold & impactful jewellery.