Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication, which is inherently found in the elegant minimalist style of WOMAN.MADE – a collection of hand-made jewelry created from raw materials. S2S talked to Stephanie Johne, the creator of WOMAN.MADE who calls the world of fashion, music, art and interior design her experimental playground.
S2S: Three years ago, in 2011, WOMAN.MADE was born. What was your initial inspiration for your project?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: I was just about to finish my studies in art history at the time, writing my thesis about Jean-Michel Basquiat who greatly inspired me. I knew that this was the beginning of a new era for me, and at the same time, it was like a breakup with my previous life. Since Basquiat accompanied me for such a long time, I kind of felt like I was about to lose a good old friend. I wanted to keep his spirit and all the ideas that popped up while reading about him alive. That was the moment when I decided to found WOMAN.MADE – dedicated to Basquiat’s former T-shirt brand with the name man.made. However, he was not well-known for this – actually, I remember this aspect was only briefly mentioned in his biography – but the name stuck and the idea to create my own label was born.
S2S: We first encountered you at the fashion show of Birke Van Maartens, who launched her first fashion collection at David and Galstaun Studio within Berlin’s fashion week together with your first jewelry collection. What is your jewelry about?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: WOMAN.MADE is and always will be about simplicity, something that counts for our lifestyle. We cherish the simple moments in life, the things that really matter. I still get outrageously excited when I am baking bread or making my own pasta. Things can be easy as long as you see them like that. The inspiration was of course again influenced by Basquiat’s way to work with raw materials, incorporating them into something new as well as the traditional layered architecture of Peruvian Natives, the Inca. I spent some time living in that fantastic country and will always carry the impressions and experiences it made deep in my heart.
S2S: What kind of audience does WOMAN.MADE speak to?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: When I designed the first collection (which was never released though) I still had a very specific kind of girl in mind – a uncomplicated but sophisticated, cosmopolitan Scandinavian women. Since I studied in Stockholm for some time, the women there inspired me a lot. With the pre-collection, I changed this approach. I made designs that speak to me at first sight and are 100% me. After launching the first collection we figured out that the women buying our necklaces could not be more dissimilar from each other. Everyone sees something different in the collection. This is what we find appealing and fascinating. I love the idea of designing products that are so simple that everyone can relate to them in their own way. The common thread is that they all love outstanding, timeless designs and care about handmade products made with love.
S2S: What has been one of the most exciting experiences you have had with WOMAN.MADE?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: I would say, the amazing feedback we got right after the show with Birke van Maartens and still do! The show itself, of course, was incredible and so were the first calls we received from magazines that ordered our styles for upcoming shootings. I had no expectations at all in the beginning and was stunned when we received the feedback we did. I am still speechless about all the positive reviews and lovely words about what we have created! We are pretty proud and super excited to see where this will lead in the future.
S2S: You are very focused and passionate. Is that your key to success?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: Absolutely! Although it took me some time. I am a person with a lot of different facets and interests, which makes it hard to focus on just one subject sometimes (another contributing factor might be my zodiac sign, gemini). I‘ve tried many different things, working as an editor for music television, as a fashion store manager, fashion pr consultant as well as a fashion editor (still do). My resume might look a bit chaotic at first sight, but everything combined lead to what I am doing now and made me understand myself and what I wanted. Not being passionate about what I am doing would make me feel miserable about myself.
S2S: Are you planning on extending the collection?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: We have received several requests from a variety of stores in Berlin and the online-market is already blossoming. So far, we cannot really supply this demand since every necklace is hand-made in our Berlin atelier, we still have a very limited production. In the near future, we are definitely planning to extend the collection and the amount of styles. The dream would be to one day work with one of the fantastic family manufacturers in Peru.
S2S: Are you currently working on more projects? Or is there anything you would love to realize in the future?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: I am definitely dreaming about opening a concept store in Berlin, perhaps with my boyfriend who is a very talented hairdresser. I love mixing different disciplines with each other. A New York trip is planned in September to see if we can entice a crowd there as well. And there is a project about Basquiat in the pipeline, together with two of my closest friends from Stockholm, but all of this is still in its infancy.
S2S: What do you think of Berlin and what importance does it have to you and Woman.Made?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: I call Berlin my home (next to Stockholm and my hometown Bautzen). This is where I am based, where I met my boyfriend and partner in crime and some of the most amazing people and friends ever. Right now it feels like there is no way I would ever move somewhere else again! And why should I, Berlin is a very creative city that offers everyone the opportunity to fulfill themselves (as long as you can live with being broke all the time of course, haha).
I think WOMAN.MADE is not that much influenced by Berlin though. I rather get inspired by materials, people, objects, nature or art then by a city’s spirit. But Berlin welcomed us with open arms – which we are more than grateful for – so I would definitely call this city WOMAN.MADE‘s home!