Designer Sophie McKay founded Bar Jewellery in 2015 after working in fashion for many years for the likes of Versace and Tom Ford. A strong desire to champion eco-friendliness in the industry led her to set up her own ethical brand. Sophie creates sustainably sourced pieces without following trends, so that her jewellery can outlive the changing fashions and encourage the idea of conscious, responsible purchasing. Handmade in East London by local artisans, her elegant, understated jewellery, coupled with the brand’s ethos, has already won her many fans, including Emma Watson. Sophie tells us what she enjoys most about Hackney, and where she hangs out when she is not busy in her workshop.
Interview: Mersa Auda
What’s your earliest memory of Hackney?
I worked at a fashion house on Shacklewell lane when I was studying, my main memory is rummaging through rolls of sequin fabric at Dalston market.
Is there a particular place that inspires you in the area?
No particular place, but the fact that creative people from all over the world are living and working in East London makes it inspiring in itself.
What do you think of East London’s transformation over the years?
I think that it is positive in many ways but it’s a shame that certain areas are losing their identity.
What can Hackney offer an aspiring artist/ young creative?
Since moving to East London I have felt a sense of belonging to London’s creative community. I think that feeling is something really positive and important for people just starting out.
What would you change or add to the area?
It would be nice if there was more interaction between the people who have been in the area for years and the new people moving in.
Where do you get your favourite meal in Hackney?
Dishoom for amazing curry and the okra fries.
Best coffee in Hackney?
The Counter Cafe in Hackney Wick, the coffee is great but also the canal setting is beautiful in the summer.
Favourite shop in Hackney?
Florist and plant design shop Grace and Thorn, on Hackney Road. I love their naturalistic approach to floristry.
Favourite pub in Hackney?
The Crooked Billet in Clapton for the laid back and friendly atmosphere.
Last book you read?
Wabi Sabi by Leonard Koren, a beautiful book about the Japanese art of imperfection and impermanence.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
If you had to offer one piece of advice to young artists in Hackney, based on personal experience?
I would say to take advantage of the many initiatives focussed on supporting startups and creatives in the area.
What are you most passionate about besides jewellery?
Fitness – it clears my head and resets me when everything else is a whirlwind!
How would you describe your home?
Minimal with lots of 1950s furniture.
Tell us of your upcoming projects.
I am working on a new collection to be released later in the year so I’m currently spending my time in my studio carving wax models and perfecting prototypes.
Emma Watson Photo Credit: Olivia Richardson / Into The Gloss