Label alert: Eco jewellery by Bybritt
Britt McVicker is ensuring that jewellery is created in an ethical, socially responsible way
Britt McVicker is no ordinary jewellery designer. She may have started her glamorous career in PR at fashion houses like Behnaz Sarafpour and Michael Kors, but this yoga-loving surfer girl is now devoted to designing and creating beautiful sustainable jewellery for the conscious consumer, under her line bybritt.
The young entrepreneur – who moved to New York in 2004 after completing her BA from St Bonaventure University, and went on to hone her flair for fashion by studying merchandising management at FIT – joins other brands in the jewellery industry, that are starting to work with ethically sourced materials. This includes acquiring precious and semi-precious stones only from those mines that adhere to strict labour, trade and environmental standards, and using responsible metals like recycled gold. An increasing number of consumers do not want their jewellery purchases to be associated with polluted rivers, child labour or conflicts, as is the case with blood diamonds. And it’s refreshing to see that young entrepreneurs like Vicker, who care about the inputs in the production process as much as the output, are trying to change the world with their creativity.
ELLE: How did you start designing jewellery?
Britt McVicker: bybritt was created out of an ongoing journey for a more balanced life. I had creative ideas with no outlet, so I made one. The colours and styles are inspired by my travels and experiences. Each handmade bracelet is coupled with its own inspirational image and hand-painted travel pouch. I taught myself how to French braid hair at a young age, and with two sisters, I had plenty of practice. Braiding hair expanded to boondoggle, and now here I am, still braiding! In many ways, bybritt has been about coming full circle and remembering my roots.
ELLE: What three words best describe bybritt’s aesthetic?
BM: Handmade, thoughtful and warm.
ELLE: How do you select the materials you work with?
BM: I tend to gravitate toward materials/concepts that feel familiar and can be sourced and produced in the socially responsible way. Recycled cotton was the first material I worked with, and I am looking forward to continuing to experiment with new materials and craftsmanship in partnership with other local artisans.
ELLE: How are you inspired each season and what trends do you follow?
BM: bybritt items are inspired by morsels of childhood memories and travels. Each [piece] is handcrafted to celebrate the journey of finding your path and creating your roots. The bybritt handcrafted tambourine celebrates storytelling, music, art, and was initially inspired by an excerpt from a favourite childhood nursery rhyme: “...Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, and she shall have music wherever she goes” (‘Ride A Cock Horse To Banbury Cross’).
ELLE: Tell us about your partnership with Nest.
BM: I am on The Nest Guild, [a New York city-based] creative advisory council, and recently collaborated with artisans in Kenya to create a handcrafted tambourine. The tambourine beading was done by a group of women in Nairobi, and the brass frame is entirely handmade in an artisan workshop in Kibera, one of Nairobi’s largest informal settlements. Nest has identified craft as a means to solve some of the greatest global issues we face today, believing in the power of the private sector, not only to fuel our global economy, but to personally enrich and transform at the community level, too. Nest builds concrete social objectives into every project it undertakes.
Nest searches globally for artisan partners that have a unique skill set, have leadership and meet their social criteria. Their artisans are located in areas of high poverty or unemployment and Nest gives preference to groups that empower women and bring together sides traditionally seen in conflict, such as Hindus and Muslims in India.
ELLE: You also work with Free Arts NYC.
BM: Yes, I am head of special events for Free Arts NYC (Freeartsnyc.org), a non-profit organisation that provides underserved children and families with a unique combination of educational arts and mentoring programmes that help them foster the self-confidence and resilience needed to realise their fullest potential.
ELLE: Have you ever bought Indian jewellery? Are you inspired by Indian jewellery at all?
BM: I am inspired by Indian culture and its variety. The languages, music, architecture and food!
ELLE: Where can we buy your jewellery? Do you ship to India?
BM: bybritt items are available for purchase via my website, Bybritt.com, and yes, I can ship to India.