Katherine-Mary Pichulik, is a talented and creative South African entrepreneur and jewellery accessory designer. Created in 2012, her brand Pichulik derives inspiration from the alchemy of transforming everyday materials through craft, touch and design, and elevating them into something precious and covetable.
Katherine Mary originally studied Fine Arts with a BA in Fine Arts from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and then proceeded to do an internship at a Fine Arts Magazine in London.
While in London, she needed to earn some money and her background as a pastry chef was developed. She worked in a bakery in Brixton doing the very early morning, 3am shifts.
After that, she went travelling and backpacking in Spain and then India. Qualified as a pâtissier, she worked in bakeries and on organic farms and on her journeys, she started to pick up a trousseau of interesting objects.
On long train journeys, she began to weave them together into jewellery design pieces just to keep her hands busy. Katherine-Mary fell into fashion out of a love for making things with my hands and an interest in ornamentation.
When Katherine returned to South Africa, she carried on making these pieces and she eventually created a small collection of around six pieces. When people saw Katherine wearing her jewelry, they wanted to buy pieces from her. Noticing the interest, she decided to take jewelry making seriously.
A friend of hers photographed the collection and it appeared in a very well known blog. This gained her exposure and the team of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Cape Town reached out to her and she was asked to create the accessories for a called Alesso, an amazing Kenyan carbon neutral brand.
Katherine made the accessories for them and with no seed capital, Pichulik was birthed.
Following that experience, Katherine has been building her brand based on the demand she gets and her business has grown greatly.
A distinctive feature of Katherine’s brand is that her materials are unusual, inexpensive and locally sourced. Katherine has beautiful team of women crafters across the African continent that she is training to make my pieces.
Katherine is interested in using jewellery for telling empowered stories. She imagines her pieces as talismans that carry healing power through intention. She imagines each of her neckpieces across the world and send streams of love to each of their wearers.
She hopes that each person who wears Pichulik accessories is inspired to be courageous and powerful.
Katherine is also interested in empowering women through her brand. The team behind Pichulik is Pan-African and mostly women, embodying the incentive behind the label which is to give a platform for African women to thrive.
The women who make the pieces, as a result of their experience of being in an incubator within her team and making the most of the various offerings that she provides for them, they too go through a process of alchemy, change and growth. It is about brave women making bold jewellery for other brave women.
At Pichulik, there’s a studio in Woodstock, Cape Town in South Africa and all the crafting is from there. Further speaking on how she empowers women, Katherine says
“I also have other programmes where our crafters can take home work.
In terms of overall development, I also have an education programme for our crafters, so for example, the woman who has been with me the longest currently is undertaking a Business Management Diploma through evening study courses which are paid for by the business. I also provide the women with regular readings which focus on self development and self actualisation. What I am really excited about and what really motivates me is not just this notion of employment, but instead the empowerment of women, and cultivating a real sense of self-esteem and self worth, and a feeling that you really can ascend out of your current personal circumstances. “
Within two years of starting her business, PICHULIK had been featured in multiple local and International magazines and is currently sold in over 13 countries worldwide. Pichulik exports between 40% to 60% of the products, with high demands in counties like the US and Scandinavia.
In 2014, Katherine was awarded Accessory Designer of the Year by African Fashion International, and Regional Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year by the Business Woman Association of South Africa. PICHULIK was announced as a finalist in the Vogue Italia Scouting Africa contest.
Katherine’s family is also very supportive and serve as an inspiration and a guide. Her mom is a business owner and her brother is her business adviser.
Although Katherine has made mistakes in her journey, such as not collecting deposits before delivering goods and faced challenges, she has kept pushing and Katherine has made a name for her self, changing the jewelry game in South Africa and the world, while creating work and a brand that will stand the test of time.
© 2017, Ona Akinde. All rights reserved.