Zoe & Morgan is a jewellery brand that has solidified its position as an international success story, while simultaneously growing its loyal cult following here in New Zealand. For the family-run business, distance serves as no barrier, with the creative siblings collaborating between Auckland, Bali and London. Zara Overton spoke with co-founder Zoe Williams about the brand’s customer-centric approach and their beautiful Newmarket store which opened last year.
N. You started Zoe & Morgan, with your brother and sister back in 2005. What inspired you to start your own jewellery brand together?
We wanted to create an holistic lifestyle that meant we could see each other as family and travel around the globe to inspiring places, and to include our children in the ride. No job would allow us this freedom so we made our business structure to support the type of life we wanted to lead.
N. Have you had any pinch-me moments with celebrities wearing the brand?
If so, who? We’ve been very lucky in that department, Kate Moss frequents our London shop, and some really well known models, but I’m equally excited by cool customers buying jewellery from us. Instagram is amazing for seeing how far and wide around the globe it goes!
N. What is your all-time favourite Zoe & Morgan piece?
My own wedding ring! I’m very proud of my husband and what we have created together. Our children are by far the coolest things we’ve ever created and looking at my ring daily is a reminder of how lucky I am.
N. You opened your beautiful Newmarket store on Kent Street in 2018. Can you tell us about the process and inspiration that went into the design of the store?
This was my fun project for 2018. I absolutely loved the entire process, firstly seeing the space, then thinking about the layout and how our customers would feel in the space, and choosing materials to work with. We went for reclaimed wood in our kitchen (a very important area for our staff!) and green marble for the jewellery cabinets, lots of storage space, which creates an organised and peaceful space, a super comfortable sofa, which mostly children lie on, and natural earthy tones. The best part of Newmarket is meeting our community here. We’ve got a cluster of independent businesses around us all of which are run by cool people. I really like our jewellers next door, who have a third generation jewellery business.
N. How long does it generally take to get a piece from idea/conception in to store?
We allow 6 weeks for the process to flow, and customers are surprised at how easy and fun it is.
N. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your most recent collection Wheels of Light?
We are so touched by our customers, and how thoughtful their gift buying skills are, so we wanted to create a collection of jewellery based on meanings. We’ve got hand carved snakes, which are an ancient symbol of protection, and chakras which come from the energy points along your spine, that are connected with our creativity, will power, love, communication, intuition and spirituality.
N. What advice would you give to someone who was looking to buy a piece of jewellery for their significant other?
Notice what they like, do they wear silver or gold? Is their personal style minimal, design led or, are their choices based on ethical transparency? The more personal the gift, the more joy-filled the reaction will be from your partner. It’s okay to get something totally different to what everyone else seems to be getting.
N. What jewellery trends can we expect to see in 2019?
Lots of delicate and layered necklaces with pops of colour, feminine looks on skin, and layering over tops.
N. How do you find running a business as a family?
I can’t imagine running a business without my family. Who else would have let me take a full two years off when my babies were babies! I feel so supported in my role in the business by my business partners, brother Morgan and sister Ruth. This has had a really positive effect on my team in NZ as we all consider each other family too. We make a point of eating lunch together, sharing recipes and looking after each other. Whenever we are busy, someone will step up and feed the team with healthy snacks and tea and that means everything to me. I’m actually most proud of what a team we are together, each of us have strong skills but together we are a special team. We wouldn’t be as successful today if it were not for our employees. So family for me doesn’t just mean my blood, I include my entire team in this.
N. Where do you draw inspiration from?
We draw inspiration from many places -for me it’s often through connecting with customers over something we are making for them. Hearing their story about where they are at in their lives is deeply inspirational – I just handed over a ring yesterday set with 10 brilliant cut diamonds, to represent ten years of marriage. I’m also working on 40th gifts, birthstones, and I’ve got drawings from a six year old daughter which is my inspiration to make her mum a set of rings, to represent each family member.
N. With business operations across the globe, what impact does the distance have on collaboration?
We thrive through our geographical locations. Each of us operate in different ways and we suit our environments! Ruth is in London, and she’s always loved to dress up and enjoy beautiful surroundings, so in a way it’s no surprise she’s close to the V&A and has our shop in a vibrant neighbourhood like Notting Hill. Morgan is in Bali, he’s very creative and needs freedom to operate at his best, so Bali really suits him. Then I am in New Zealand, and I love to connect with people so it feels perfect being at the front of the business, meeting our customers and focusing on bespoke commissions, whilst maintaining a strong bond with family and nature. And we get together to collaborate once or twice per year. In any of our locations. And usually with our children in tow!
N. Along with the changing landscape of weddings, so too has the traditional idea of what an engagement ring should look like, with brides and grooms choosing more bespoke and tailored pieces. Zoe& Morgan’s engagement collection has been a great example of that – what advice would you give someone looking for the perfect engagement ring?
It’s an exciting time to get married, as the rule book has been thrown out the window for many. People are really doing something that feels right and true for themselves. We also have a lot of customers who decide not to marry but to commit to one another. And we have a lot of customers who choose love for themselves and buy a beautiful ring to celebrate that. My advice would be tune into yourself, and do what feels best. Make the piece a celebration of life, with brilliant natural beauty and a few natural imperfections!
6B Kent Street