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23 April 2020

Known for their quirky Australiana inspired jewellery designs in a kaleidoscope of colours, Concrete Jellyfish is guaranteed to make a bold statement on the ear. Each piece is intricately made from perfected high-quality resin; hand poured and coloured in their Agnes Waters studio.


With the launch of their latest collection Secret Garden, we chatted to the creative behind Concrete Jellyfish, Rene Skelton about the inspiration behind all her colourful accessories!


You recently released a new collection, Secret Garden. Tell us about the inspiration behind this collection?


I really wanted to work with some historical artworks and bring them into a contemporary context. After some research I discovered the work by Zeruah Guernsey Caswell and fell in love. Her work took her almost 2 years to craft and is such beautiful piece embodying what it means to craft by hand. The way in which she viewed her surroundings was magical to me and I really wanted to share it with my followers.


You must have an incredible personal collection of earrings by now! Do you have a go to pair?


I do haha, I have hundreds of pairs of earrings. A go to for me is a mismatch hoop for everyday and either a statement coral or bold abstract shape for going out.


When did you feel the first urge to pursue Concrete Jellyfish?


I have been making my own jewellery and clothes from a really young age. But after several years of working with creatives in my late 20’s it was just time be the actual creative myself. 


Concrete Jellyfish is a full-time practice for you, how did you make the transition from your day job?


I just dived right in. I have been full-time from day one. I really wanted to give it my all and I was lucky enough (and frugal enough) to be able to get by on one family income while I started CJ. I had a previous business with my partner Paolo and knew how much hard work it would be, but we were both willing to make the necessary sacrifices to make it work. So glad I took that leap.


You’re living in Agnes Waters now, but you started Concrete Jellyfish living in Brisbane. How did that influence your creative practice?


Moving to a quieter place has really helped my creativity. I am a person with an extremely busy mind and so to be somewhere that’s not busy really helps me ground those thoughts and take the space I need to create. I feel as though I am more deliberate and thoughtful with my approach to design too, which I really love, almost like I have a deeper connection   with the actual process itself now.


We’ve been lucky to stock Concrete Jellyfish since its inception in 2017, how has your style evolved over time and what has influenced its development?


Oooo great question! My style always evolves, literally week to week. I’ll always love colour, and always love all things nature but sometimes I have to switch it for a creative refresh too. I think my progression in technical skills has also really influenced my designs too.


Concrete Jellyfish epitomises the concept of slow fashion with every piece hand-made in your studio. Can you share with us what the future of slow fashion looks like to you?


Another wonderful question! Slow fashion is a beautiful thing; the art of crafting by hand is really something very special, especially because you get individuality within each piece, just like people. I think the future of slow fashion in Australia looks wonderful because there are so many makers out there doing their special thing and its really being supported by a community of people who really appreciate the effort and skill required to make by hand. It is really hard to compete sometimes with bigger brands though and fast fashion labels. I always think its funny when people are taken back by handmade prices – or almost want to pay less at a market, but those same people at other times are happy to go into some big designer store and pay more for a product that’s been mass produced in a big factory somewhere. I think the future of slow fashion maybe just depends on the mindset of the younger generation understanding why paying more for something that’s ethically and beautifully made matters.


You’ve worked on some incredible collaborations, including MoB Shop favourites Rachael Sarra, and Laurence Usher. What do you think is the secret to a successful collaboration?


Really connecting with the person you are collaborating with. I think you really have to fall in love with their art, and the meaning behind it, to be able to merge with it. It has to feel right.


What does a day in the life of Rene look like? Tell us about your creative process.


Busy haha, I really cram a lot into my day. I get into the studio at 8 in the morning and work solidly until 5 in the afternoon. Each day is different depending on what stage we are at in the making process. My favourite days are when I’m pouring resin. I get into a zen zone and just pour colours for the whole day. It really makes me happy. In the mornings I always  check emails, insta messages, orders etc and post out any orders too. I also finish my day with the same. At some point throughout the day I always schedule some time for my Socials and photography. It’s a bit hectic some days but I really love it. Key to a good day is just being able to focus on the one task for the whole day – it helps me be efficient.


Career highlight to date?


Oooo everything! I don’t know if I have one highlight. Seeing a long line of amazing women waiting for my popup to commence this year was pretty special – I love the CJ gang so much.


How has your practice been affected by the current state of the world?


Because I work from home I am really lucky in that my everyday hasn’t changed that much. And people still seem to need some colourful accessories in their life, even if it’s just to wear around home. I think the power of dressing for joy is something needed now more than ever. Anxiety around the businesses future definitely creeps in time to time though, but I am determined to make it through to the other side. I have too many ideas I still haven’t made!


What are the things you’re trying to do to stay creative on a daily basis?


I cook and weed my garden. I love food and I love my herb garden!! I think cooking is so creative and doing something outside my normal creativity really helps.


Who are your favourite Brisbane makers?


Ooooo so many!! Laurence Usher for sure, Redraku, Busyhead, Ruby Phyllis and so many more. I love all the Brisbane makers.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up?

I am about to start work on a new collaboration with Rachael Sarra which is always exciting.