Chupi is a multi-award winning jewellery brand founded by former Topshop designer Chupi Sweetman. Irresistibly drawn to wild and natural things, she has developed an aesthetic influenced by the imperfect natural beauty of feathers, twigs and leaves. The look is complemented by the most sparkling of gemstones.
Chupi Sweetman has created a delicate jewellery collection with many pieces based on natural elements such as feathers. This is very much a range to appeal to the inner magpie in wearers, and the brand has fans around the world, from London to Tokyo. Each piece is designed, manufactured and finished in Ireland. We caught up with the Insta-famous designer to find out more.
How did you find your calling for jewellery making?
I have always been a very creative person. I was home-schooled and very much encouraged to follow my own path and do what I enjoy. When I was at university I started making dresses for my friends and this soon blossomed into a small business. That led to me being scouted by Topshop and becoming its youngest-ever designer. After six years I realised that fast fashion wasn’t where my passion really lay; I wanted to create something that would last, to celebrate Ireland’s design heritage and to shout about my love for wild and natural beauty. This all culminated in me deciding to retrain as a goldsmith, and voilà … Chupi as we know it now was born.
With Christmas looming, which are your bestselling pieces?
We always have a big surge in engagement ring sales in the run up to Christmas, which I think is absolutely magical. I feel so lucky to get to be a part of these gorgeous love stories and help someone bring to life the picture of the perfect ring that they have in their head.
What do you take inspiration from?
I have always been, and think I probably always will be, so inspired by the picturesque place that I am lucky enough to call home. In other words Ireland. I love to find the beauty in the slight imperfections of nature ‒ twigs, feathers, leaves, you name it. While lots of jewellery brands turn to flawless diamonds and gems, I just love to find the stones that have a story to tell. Life isn’t always perfect and I adore that the pieces we create reflect that and shine a spotlight on how exquisite the journey is.
What ideals have you taken from your time as a Topshop designer?
Working with Topshop gave me a great work ethic and laid the foundations of how I have worked throughout my career. It was fast paced and there was no time for slack. I think the success of Chupi has a little to do with those values that were instilled in me so early on in my working life.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love the stories that I get to hear. I have always said that jewellery is an emotional purchase, you may need a new coat, but no one needs a new necklace ‒ in the same way anyway. You fall in love with the magic of the piece and it becomes something that you think about and quite simply can’t live without. There is always a reason for this … it reminds you of your mother’s favourite necklace, or the colour of the stone makes you think of that amazing holiday. There is always a story.
What’s your favourite piece from your collection?
I am just in love with all of our grey diamond rings. They are so magical and have such a different sparkle and fire to anything else I’ve ever seen.
Where are your favourite places to shop in London?
I travel back and forth to London a lot for work and don’t always have time to stop and shop, when I do, though, I like to take a look at the latest pieces in Wolf & Badger. It has a focus on independent brands that are ethically and environmentally conscious, which is so important. If I have the time I also stop at iconic stores such as Liberty, just to take it all in.
What do you like most about the city?
I love how there is always something happening; there is never a dull moment. No one could ever be bored in London.
How would you describe your personal style?
I am often heard describing myself as Del Boy in sequins. I love to wear sequins whenever possible. Taffeta skirts, feathers, bright colours, ruffles, bold prints ... they all make the cut. I’ve never dressed for anyone but me; the things that make me happy might not be the things that make everyone else happy but that’s the joy of fashion; it’s truly ours.
What’s on your Christmas list?
I haven’t actually put together a Christmas list this year. Hopefully there will be some lovely surprises under the tree for me on the big day. Mostly I am looking forward to having a true family Christmas, with classic films, too much food and lots of naps on the sofa.