Perth-based jewellery label Mountain and Moon has been not so quietly delivering glamour and colour to our Instagram feeds for the past little while. The work of power duo Audrey Allen and Ashton Cameron, the label is asking us to image a world slightly more opulent, but without forgetting those who make this possible. We chatted with Audrey about how this has all come to pass.
BYO: What drew you both together to design jewellery?
Audrey: If you've ever met us, you can tell by first glance that we're obsessed with accessories. We met in high school, quickly adopted each other as sisters and over time life has carried us on our own journeys when it comes to personal style, yet the one thing we have always had in common was our passion for jewellery. We always felt we could express ourselves more through our choice of jewels and how we chose to layer them, and we wanted to bring that idea to women in Australia. Our motto was always 'more is more' and when things were feeling decidedly minimal in terms of jewellery choices here we wanted to turn that upside down and bring some statement glamour to women who wanted more.
BYO: How have you developed the connection to India where you source and manufacture the jewellery?
Audrey: Coming from Indian and Greek backgrounds we have joked that we have gold running through our veins! Ashton was born in India and moved to Australia when she was 11 so that deep connection was always there. Audrey has spent a lot of time travelling and discovering India and she absolutely fell head over heels for the culture, the people and the traditions.
The idea for Mountain & Moon was born there and we have loved being able to develop the brand over the years while being able to spend more time in what we call our second home. There is so much history in India when it comes to jewellery and the artisan craftsmanship is unrivalled. Their use of textures, finishes and detail matches our own aesthetic perfectly so it is the ideal pairing as a manufacturing base for us.
BYO: You reference your cross-cultural mindset - what does this mean in practice?
Audrey: We both come from cross-cultural backgrounds so for us it's a mindset where we feel most at home. It has always been very important to us to have varied aesthetic elements present in our designs, drawing influence from the amazing people we meet, places we visit, family history, life experiences and our individual cultures. We strive to promote these elements in the way we present our jewels, whether it be the inspiration for a shoot or the background of the women wearing them. We want to celebrate the diversity that makes us all beautiful, unique and interesting and as the MM Women come from all walks of life we want to be a brand that is there for everybody when they want or need it.
BYO: You working with the Institute for Philanthropy and Human Development and the Saheli Women project in India. How did this come about and where has it led the brand?
Audrey: Maybe jewellery could change lives? This is something that we constantly had on our mind when we started Mountain & Moon. We had a passion to create a label that actually cared. A business that could bring empowerment to women, both here in Australia and across the world. During our travels and constant research we came across IPHD in the village of Bhikamkor, a grassroots NGO founded by a powerhouse of a woman called Madhu. Saheli Women is an ethical fashion social enterprise founded by IPHD.
Madhu had a dream to help women in this village to work their way out of poverty and gain empowerment through education and employment. Her selfless work has helped many women gain new skills, earn money for their family, learn about their health and invest in their self-worth. This spoke volumes to us! After meeting Madhu and visiting the village we knew this was where we would start our journey in give back to the country that brings our creations to life.
As part of our longstanding partnership we provide consistent sewing and embroidery work for the Saheli Women with their creation of fair-trade bags to house the jewellery. Made in a safe and comfortable work environment and designed to keep the jewellery with you forever, the bags are part of a bigger picture promoting our alliance with the Saheli Women. A percentage of all MM sales are reinvested into varied projects on ground level, currently focused on health issues and the education around this. This means there is power in every purchase of Mountain & Moon jewellery.
BYO: What's the design process between the two of you like?
Audrey: The design process is the main aspect of the brand that we try to be across equally. We both spend our own time sketching whenever we can and jotting down ideas when the inspiration strikes. Running the brand can be crazy and we often find a severe lack of time being available when it comes to creating so we have to set aside certain days or nights in the month to sit down together and discuss our current ideas & inspiration, then sketch out everything we are interested in adding to the collection. The process can sometimes feel scattered, but there is a definite method to our madness. We draw out whatever comes to mind (generally fuelled by prosecco) and then over the next week begin to refine the drawings technically and add all textures and stone choices.
BYO: You've mentioned elsewhere that the focus in Australian design is more often on the outfit than the accessories and jewellery. How do you hope to change that with Mountain and Moon?
Audrey: When most of the women we know get ready for the day or a night out, it’s all about what they're going to wear, but we aspire to flip this! We want women to ask, “What jewels am I going to wear today and what outfit can best complement these stunning earrings!?” Whether you're wearing jeans and a t-shirt or a couture gown it’s the jewels that always up the ante!
You can find Mountain and Moon’s full collection here: https://www.mountainandmoon.com.au/