A big thank you to Lottie of The Trove UK for the lovely chat we had about •||||• inspiring women and turning art into a way of life.
INTERVIEW: Zaza de la Hey founder of Four Ones
A lot of her creations are bespoke - one look at her Instagram shows the incredibly sentimental custom-made pieces she creates for clients. But the ready-to-wear designs are also steeped in meaning, whether it’s drawing on Zaza’s life experience, or perhaps an ancient myth or story that’s inspired her.
The pieces are unisex, and also created using ethically sourced material, and with such a strong brand identity, I was fascinated to find out the journey it took Zaza to build her brand…
Can you talk a bit about your background and how you came to launch your own brand?
I studied Fine Art at university with a focus on sculpture I then went on to work within the Creative industry, within the Fashion, Music and Art worlds in Marketing, PR and Events) with a detour in the Art department for film and theatre, making props and dressing sets.
One day I just stopped and thought I want to create something that works for me in giving me the pace and quality of life that I craved and that I could also be of service to others but in a different more meaningful and creative way. The most important part of working for someone else in a team was learning everyone's role and place in the organisation, what support they needed and how we could all work best together to deliver the best product or service possible. I learnt so much working with and for others, some truly amazing skills and some very hard lessons, these were very formative years and gave me the tools I needed to start up on my own and I wouldn’t change any part of it.
I feel like I haven’t really faced that many obstacles, in the sense where I’ve always known making jewellery is exactly what I wanted to do. Any obstacles I faced just seemed like a normal part of the journey, they almost feel like rites of passage. My brain just blindly followed what my heart wanted… for the most part!
I’ll amend that the biggest obstacle was finding the tools to soothe my brain at any times of doubt by reminding myself that all ups and downs are part of the process and just to keep at it and believe in what I am doing.
What inspires your designs?
I love stories, myths and fables… hearing them and recounting them. I have a very active imagination and curiosity when it comes to the interactions between people, objects and nature. I’m fascinated by ancient civilisations the symbols they use and their belief systems. The most interesting thing for me is seeing patterns emerge in groups of people separated by distance and time, there is something really very beautiful in this, it really brings home that we are and always have been the same type of being. This type of narrative seems to follow me in my experience of life so I guess it’s only natural it would come through in the jewellery I make.
Another very important part of the process for me is feeling, in both senses of the word the emotional attachment people may have to a piece because of the thought put into it or simply the person that gifted it to them. The second type of feeling is simply how pleasing the piece is to the touch, simple tactile pleasures.
Yes, this was very much a conscious decision. I believe everything can be unisex, we are all the same so should be afforded the same freedom of expression and rights. I always strive to be inclusive by making pieces that are classic and unisex.
Being a very visual person myself I wanted to convey this simply on my website by shooting everything on a male and female model it’s my way of expressing and showing that the pieces I make are for everyone. And also showing how one piece can look on different body types, I think this really helps when trying to decide and understand if a piece not only represents you but ill look good on you too.
If I really have to choose just one it would be my great Gran’s gold signet ring engraved with her family crest I was gifted after she passed away. At the time I only wore silver but this ring changed my preference from wearing silver to gold and mostly my relationship with jewellery. I used to buy pieces for how they looked but since I've had this ring I wear jewellery for how it makes me feel and what it means to me, it’s a very personal thing. I have a chain I never take off that is filled with talisman gifted to me by loved ones or that I've made that represent something very special to me. I find it comforting to keep these people close to my heart and sometimes I catch myself distractedly rubbing a particular token, it always makes me smile and think of that person.
There seems to be incredible sentiment behind the ethos of your brand and your designs. Is that an important message for you?
Thank you, that’s such a lovely thing to say. Yes, as I mentioned above, I have personally grown very attached to the pieces I have and how they make me feel. So I naturally have been drawn to making new pieces with sentiment already attached to them whether that be the recycling of an outdated but yet precious piece, personalised engraving, using stones to heal or just simply using less resources that impact our planet in a negative way by using recycled metals and ethically sourced stones.
I love seeing the bespoke personal pieces on your Instagram that you make, and the fact you always mention who bought it for who. Would you say that’s a special part of the job for you? And have you had any particularly favourite pieces for customers you’ve created?
I love making personal pieces for people, the jewellery I wear means so much to me. So being asked to make pieces for people or their loved ones that have such significant meaning, the birth of a child, loss of a loved one, engagement and wedding rings, milestone birthday and engagement gifts, self healing tools and just basically all tokens of love and protection are a huge honour to be asked to make. All these pieces I have mentioned above have been my favourites, the sentiment in the pieces are what make me the happiest and I just love making them.
Yes, of course, it’s so important, I feel that everyone should be given the same chances regardless of age, gender, illness and what part of the world they inhabit. Things are changing and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. Of course, there is a way to go and as long last there are still discrepancies there are still efforts to be made and conversations to be had. Progress is happening at that is the part I am focusing on the most.
Who are your Female Founder icons?
I am in complete admiration of strong creative women, two that instantly spring to mind are Patti Smith and Georgia O'Keeffe. Of course for the amazing art that they have both created but also for their strength, originality and fearless pursuit of releasing into the outside world what lives in their inside world.
I am very fortunate to be surrounded by so many creative women that have set out on their own and created a way to live their lives whilst producing beautiful clothing, inspirational stores, taxidermy, ceramics, jewellery, tattoos, music, writing and the list goes on to all the ladies out there I know, I’m so proud of you for doing what you do and feel proud to have you in my life and call you friends.
Growing up I have also been hugely influenced by my mother she is a very creative soul that amongst other things makes, sells and designs jewellery. Our styles are very different but watching her happily making pieces when I was growing up definitely sparked my love for jewellery.
What’s the one piece of advice you would pass onto anyone else wanting to start their own brand?
Take your time to build something solid, believe in your ideas and try not to compare yourself to anyone else's progress, make time to talk to other makers, and service providers, anyone that is doing it on their own really. It’s very easy to stay in your own little bubble, I have found talking about my ideas, progress, fears with like-minded people is beneficial in the development and helps everyone involved. <3