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Riding the wave of inspiration


By Sheree Hoddinett

From seashells to coral, waves, starfish and seahorses, Kaikoa Designs is an Australian handmade jewellery brand based right here in the Moreton Bay Region. Inspired by their love of the ocean, Marc and Sally are the faces behind Kaikoa Designs, creating every piece from their workshop in Elimbah.

The business has been running now for three years and continues to grow. It initially started as a hobby on the side for the dynamic duo, who also used to have fulltime jobs. Now Kaikoa Designs has reached a point where they can give it their full and undivided attention.

“I’ve always liked art and Marc’s always utilised his hands for work (he’s a carpenter by trade),” Sally said. “We worked together in a different industry and we were sitting at work one day talking about ideas. Marc had already started the business and we decided to give it a go and now it’s just moving forward better than we could have imagined.”

“We’re really passionate about what we do and we also have a deep passion and love for the ocean,” Marc added. “So Sal went and did all the courses and everything she needed and we got underway. But the first couple of pieces she created, I was like wow, but we’ve just improved so much since then!”

Marc’s love for the ocean goes back to when he was a little boy spending time on his mum and dad’s yacht. Sal shares the same love for the open water as Marc and their current path of making ocean-inspired jewellery is all leading to their ultimate dream of sailing around the world on their own yacht. But for now they continue to work towards that dream, both designing and making pieces to sell at local markets and online.

“It started that I designed and Marc learned how to finish products,” Sally said. “But Mark has now started designing some of his own pieces. He wants to do a range where we can create more pieces for the guys. A lot of our jewellery is unisex anyway, so he started doing a lot more designing and getting involved, but he's also built all of our displays for the markets as well. We get a lot of comments on that every time we set up.”

“We make everything sustainable, so it’s made from bamboo,” Marc adds. “The reason we did that so no one can copy it and it’s unique to what we do. We want to be completely unique and completely different with our business.”

In between life and making their pieces, Sally and Marc also split their time at multiple markets throughout the month to sell their wares. You’ll find them at the likes of Caloundra, Redcliffe, Carseldine, Eumundi and more.

“It can get a bit hectic on the weekends, but we enjoy what we do,” Marc said. “We know that people are always going to wear jewellery, that’s never going to change, so there’s always going to be a market and an interest for what we do. These days, people don’t want to pick any piece of jewellery out at the shops, they’re looking for those different and unique pieces, like what we make. Everything is made right here in Australia, with silver that we buy from here as well.”

This dynamic duo have already created a range of earrings, pendants, rings and chains with a plan to eventually move into bracelets and bangles. So, how does it all happen?

“We make everything out of wax first, there’s actually quite a lot involved,” Sally said. “From there, it goes into quite a long process (you can find the whole outline on our website) before we place it in a kiln to solidify it and then pour the precious metal into a cast and let it cool before we start working on the finer details of each piece. There is a lot of attention to detail and of course each piece will be slightly different to the last.”

Where did they get the idea for the name of their business?

“It’s a name that has been with me for a long time,” Marc said. “It actually means guardian of the sea and with the importance of the ocean in my life, it was an easy decision to make.”

In a testament to the business they have built, Marc and Sally often have returning customers at each market they attend. It’s a sign of how far they have come in such a short time.

“The market life isn't going to be forever,” Marc said. “But we have definitely seen the changes over the last few years. I think it was done really, really well, when we look back at the original photos and the original designs and stuff like that. But what we have now is way better than what we did back then. All the pieces are different and we’ve improved on how we design and create, it’s always evolving.”

“We receive a lot of compliments from people telling us how amazing the jewellery is,” Sally adds. “We’re not pushy, we don’t want people to buy something unless they really want it. If they really like it, they will buy it.”

To view all their beautifully handcrafted jewellery or to find out more about Kaikoa Designs, visit www.kaikoadesigns.com

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