Holly Ryan is the director and Jeweller behind her namesake brand Holly Ryan Jewellery as well as an accomplished Sculptor. We chat with Holly about her creative practice, closing the loop with her recycling initiative and what books, films and music she's currently inspired by.
Before launching your namesake brand, you studied fashion design at Queensland University of Technology, ultimately deciding to pursue Jewellery. Can you share a little more about your background and what led you to start your business?
During my final year studying fashion, I had the opportunity to design jewellery in collaboration with my mother – who had studied jewellery in Mexico before I was born. I grew up in her studio and beside her at market stalls, selling her sterling silver pieces. So, I was always intrigued by and had a natural affinity for jewellery. My parents sent me to a whole lot of play groups and workshops as a kid, so I was always making things by hand – like making candles, potato printing fabrics, sewing, pattern making, painting and all kinds of other crafts. I played a lot of sport, learned piano and spent a lot of time in nature, at the beach or in the bush. Creating things by hand and using my hands to work has always come naturally to me, due to the style of my upbringing – and for this I am incredibly grateful. It has given me the gift of meditative practice and catharsis through creating art.
In what ways have your parents influenced your creative practice?
A deep respect for the environment was instilled in me from a young age through my parents and this has really shaped the way I approach design. From concept to completion, I am thinking about how to design responsibly, without waste or with the least harm to the environment.
Holly wears the Short Sleeve Shirt in Cameo Pink and the Vela Pant in White
Your closed loop Recycling Initiative allows customers to return their pre-loved pieces in exchange for store credit, or to be redesigned. How is sustainability woven into your jewellery making and what considerations are taken when you begin designing a new piece?
Sustainability is at the core of my design practice. I am constantly seeking new and better ways to approach jewellery production and manufacture to ensure the product can be re-used, recycled or re-designed so that the lifecycle of the piece is endless. I believe in quality over quantity and that jewellery – or the precious metals and gems used to create the jewellery – should be treasured as heirlooms. With this in mind, I offer many different services to breathe new life into to my clients’ pieces, including the recycling initiative as well as plating services, repair and redesign services.
Can you talk us through the process of sourcing recycled metals and ethical stones for your designs?
Metals are sourced from recycled metal companies within Australia and our ethical stones are sourced through local suppliers in Australia as well as through Fairtrade companies Setu and Kallista Designs in Jaipur, India – both of which I just visited. These companies help to re-house, feed, empower and educate women and children who come from abusive relationships, by giving them artisanal work in supportive communities.
When it comes to your personal jewellery collection what are the pieces you wear everyday?
I wear a solid gold Signet ring, two gold and sapphire Wabi Sabi rings, a gold and diamond Una Estrella ring, a gold ‘H’ initial necklace and gold Keshi Pearl Hoops.
How do you practice self-care?
I exercise a lot. Whether it’s weekly PT sessions, pilates, walking my dog or hiking, I always keep very active and this helps me to sleep better, which makes me a much happier and more productive person generally. I also try to get to the beach for a swim at least once a week and to read before bed instead of looking at screens.
Tell us about your neighbourhood. Where are your favourite places to eat and shop?
I live on the edge of Surry Hills and Redfern. I am a huge pastry fan, so I love Breadfern, Bourke Street Bakery and Fernside for coffee and croissants. I regularly visit Title for new books, vinyls and gifts. I also love Venue 505 for live jazz and dry martinis – I am actually headed there this weekend to see Moussa Diakite play West African modern Malian music. My fave local bar is Bart Jr and pub is The George.
What are your go-to style essentials?
I wear a lot of denim, cotton tees and dresses. I have pretty laid-back style, so can be very minimalist but also a little bit 70s bohemian. I am from a small beach town, so most things in my wardrobe need to be beach appropriate.
Holly wears the Linen Tee in White with the Wide Leg Overalls in Vintage White
Can you share with us the last thing you read, listened and watched that inspired you?
I recently visited Nepal to trek in The Himalayas to Base Camp Mt Everest. I switched my phone off for a few weeks and spent a lot of my time at night reading. The books that most inspired me were Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking, as well as a collection of her essays called Slouching Towards Bethlehem – especially the essay On Self-Respect which she originally wrote for Vogue in 1961. Eve Babitz’ L.A. woman; Ottessa Montfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation; and Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America. Then I also delved deep into a few Eastern thought and philosophy books, since I was in that area. I really enjoyed Alan Watts’ Become What You Are; Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and Richard Burton’s The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. I went and saw The Joker when I got home, which I thought was genius and lately I have been listening to a lot of classical, experimental, world and jazz music.
Where do you see your brand 5 years from now?
Working more closely with Fairtrade organisations which focus on small artisanal groups helping to educate and empower women. I also envision many more unique collaborations with brands and boutiques close to my heart and to the heart of my brand. This will ensure that customers and clients can have access to a wider variety of individual experiences within the Holly Ryan brand, rather than seeing the same thing everywhere.