We can't get enough of these jewellery designer interviews! Today we're thrilled to introduce to you, Caitie, from When Caitie Met Soda.
We're always falling in love with Caitie's photos of her jewellery designs, dog snaps and dreamy behind the scenes action over on social media. As huge dog lovers ourselves, it's so lovely to hear how Caitie's jewellery making journey is what it is today due to her furry companion.
In today's interview we chat about finding confidence and creativity, being stocked in none other than West Elm and top tips on getting your handmade jewellery out into the world!
Caitie has such an inspiring story, after becoming unwell she turned to jewellery making, taking her down a path she never thought she'd end up...
If you want to become a guest writer or appear on our Meet The Jeweller feature, find out more here
Why hello! Thank you so much for having me - it really is an honour! As you already mentioned, I’m Caitie, and my business is When Caitie met Soda.
When Caitie met Soda was born during one of the most difficult times in my life, thus far, when I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly very unwell.
I was diagnoses with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Disorder, and more recently, a Primary Immunodeficiency but at the time, I was forced to leave the teacher training course that I was on.
And, I suddenly found myself isolated, unwell, and unsure of what was next. And then, along came Soda, a then one-year old Staffy: the furry-not-so-furry love of my life, and constant companion. It’s hard to explain how he gave me back my light, but he truly did.
Having always had an interest in jewellery, being unwell actually presented the perfect opportunity for me to begin learning and teaching myself traditional silversmithing techniques. And from the moment I did, it was as if a light went on for me. I discovered that I was creative, as I believe that we all are, and, after feeling so very lost, for so many years of my life, felt like I had finally found a way to communicate with the world around me.
From there, When Caitie met Soda grew to my now full-time job. And saying that still feels crazy to me. I feel truly lucky every single day to be doing what I’m doing.
Timeless, minimalistic, meaningful.
The name of my business came to me when I met Soda. In its original format, When Caitie met Soda was my blog, and so when I began selling my own designs it felt natural to use the same name. I guess, in many ways, the name marks that turning point in my life, and is a daily reminder to myself that there is always hope.
DOG LOVERS ARE THE BEST PEOPLE EVER! Sorry, you only have to say the word dog to get me going ! Paul (my fiancé) often cringes at the number of people who say ‘dog’ only to have my phone thrust in their face while they are subjected to endless pictures of Soda!
I think the best thing about having Soda by my side daily is that he accepts and loves me for who I am. And, he never asks me to be any more or less than that. I can be having the worst day and I need only to look at him to know it will all be okay. He is my soulmate, he really, truly is.
I think my inspiration and interest in making jewellery stems from my mother - who has always been passionate about jewellery. I have so many jewellery-related memories from my childhood, from stopping at every single jewellery shop window (EVER) with her, to the charm bracelet she always wore (until it got too heavy to be practical to wear every day), to commissioning pieces of jewellery.
My mum always treated jewellery like art, and for me, it has become a way through which to communicate truly complex emotions, and tell my story, whilst hopefully helping others tell their's.
I am a very lucky lady indeed to have the group of people around me that I do. Growing up, I recall spending a lot of time feeling like the ‘odd one out’, and spending a lot of time on my own. But, I truly believe that When Caitie met Soda led me to ‘my tribe’. I feel like I’ve finally found this amazing group of people, who I’ve been looking for for so very long, who not only support me, and When Caitie met Soda, but one another within our community, too. I’m really proud of the ways in which our little family has encouraged and supported one another. It’s such a privilege to be a part of it - and one that I will never take for granted.
I think I’ve learnt a lot about myself since starting to make jewellery. Perhaps most importantly, I think I’ve learnt and am learning how to be okay with being me. Totally, wildy imperfect, but, nevertheless, uniquely me.
I think before jewellery I had very strong conceptions of who I ‘should’ be, and things I ‘should’ do, and I just never really felt like those things were truly me. And of course, on my down days, I still hear those voices and wonder if I ‘should’ be doing what I’m doing. But, for the most part, I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and to be more accepting of who I am.
Thank you so much! To be honest being stocked by West Elm is an absolute dream come true - and one I didn’t even know I had in the sense that I don’t know if I thought I’d ever be stocked by anyone. It felt really surreal to visit the store and see my pieces in there. I feel grateful every day for the people I’ve met along this journey, I truly do.
My favourite social media platform has to be Instagram. Photography is a real passion of mine and so Instagram has really challenged me to capture and communicate the meaning behind my pieces. I also love Stories on Instagram - many a bench break are spent catching up on Stories!
Thank you so much, that is very kind. It has meant the world to me that people have connected with the stories that I have told through my pieces. It’s amazing how many of us can relate to a single emotion, and how many of us feel alone, isn’t it? Telling stories through my pieces has been one of the most rewarding parts of what I do.
I think the best way to make your designs unique and personal is to be you. I know that sounds a bit naff, but it truly is. Because no one sees the world quite like you do. And no one feels things in exactly the same way as you do. So, I guess, in the words of Dr. Seuss: ’Today you are you. That is truer that true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.’
That’s a super hard question. There are just so many amazing ones! I really love ‘rustic’ or 'rough' diamonds, though. I think that they are so beautiful - their raw, natural beauty is incredible, and I think that they make pieces so very unique and interesting. The variation in colour that you get with them is amazing, too!
Naked Bars! Currently obsessed with the Apple Pie ones.
My first ever designs were my Little Comet rings, which I actually designed for my sister, before I even began selling my jewellery. I have always loved combining different metals in my pieces and playing with contrast, and also love minimalistic, timeless pieces. I think over time, I have refined my techniques, with a continual focus on the quality of my work, and have also started being more experimental.
I love to sell one-of-a-kind pieces (I always post these on Instagram), which are different to my core collection and really give me the opportunity to stretch myself artistically. I still have a lot that I want to learn, and I’m sure my designs will continue to evolve and change. But, that’s the exciting part, isn’t it? Because the best is yet to come.
I think that the best way to get your jewellery out in front of the world right now is to use social media, and to be very diligent about using it.
My health conditions largely restricted me from participating in things like craft-fairs, and so social media was an absolute life-line. Being a very anxious person also made it feel safer to use social media as a way of connecting others and getting my designs out there, because I was able to do it from the comfort of my own home, and in my own time.
I have always been thrilled with the gemstones that I have purchased from Kernowcraft. It can be tricky to find gemstones online due to the difficult nature of photographing them - I have ordered from some places and felt truly disappointed with them looking nothing like they did online, but I have yet to be disappointed with any that I purchase from Kernowcraft. I’m always impressed with the stones and cuts that Kernowcraft source, and the selection that you offer. There’s definitely something for everyone.
An absolute essential product to tumble polish metal jewellery. This piece of kit is an investment but is so very worth it. I always hand polish my pieces but couldn’t survive without my barrel polisher for busy periods and also polishing up pieces that are looking a little lack-lustre. I even do my own personal jewellery in my barrel polisher - it always comes out looking brand new!
I LOVE these. I use them predominantly on thinner pieces of silver wire, and they are fantastic at shaping it without leaving marks and scratches on it, making polishing them up a whole lot easier! Taping pliers can be such a faff- and these cut out having to clean them up after having had tape on them, etc., They get a big thumbs up from me (and, of course, Soda!)