Celebrating local women — Karin Rae Matthee from Dear Rae
At Glow we love celebrating women.
In a ( social media ) society often ridden with comparison and climbing the ladder, we as women are constantly challenged to be better, bolder, braver, healthier or more successful in our career paths. Comparison is isolating and that is why we love opening up conversations with female creatives about their thoughts, their feelings and their day to day around these kind of topics. We feel like it makes other women feel resonation and inspiration, and perhaps a big dose of needed encouragement.
As a female creative myself I often wonder how others 'do it', what are their secret weapons to thrive or do they maybe struggle with the same challenges I do?
Now, I have to add, that there is by no means a recipe and trying to duplicate other's routines will inevitably end up in frustration, because we are all unique with our own make-up, personalities and daily needs. But, there is a lot to learn from other women and we should always maintain open-minded with a teachable spirit.
We chatted to Karin about building her tiny, yet tenacious jewellery empire and all the 'colours' that make up this journey.
We hope you feel rejuvenated by this conversation.
In your own words, who and what is Dear Rae and what is your mission as a brand?
Dear Rae started off as a jewellery brand that created simple, sustainable and locally produced jewellery. It has since grown into a lifestyle brand, creating a platform for collaboration and playful creative projects in jewellery and other mediums. Dear Rae has shifted and grown but still carries the same culture of curiosity and play. I believe that is a strength, and I hope to keep it that way.
What is the story behind the name Dear Rae?
I inherited my second name, Rae, from my granny. She was always a bold, creative and dynamic woman in my life, and I felt inspired to use her name. The word "Dear" worked well, as it is the mirror image of "Rae," without the "D".
Dear Rae is a pioneer in the local jewellery scene - how have things evolved since ‘calling it a name‘ and setting up shop?
Establishing a shop/studio for the public to visit was a risky step to take, but has been incredibly rewarding. It allowed Dear Rae to develop its own identity quite quickly. The space tells a clear story of the how the product is made and what the Dear Rae culture is about. It has created a platform for us to get to know and engage with our clientele, which we feel has been such an important part of our growth over the years.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love how diverse my job is. Each day is filled with many aspects, from connecting to my creativity to making big business decisions. I am also so grateful to have an incredible team of dynamic individuals who challenge and inspire me to develop further.
Do you have an “average day”? If so, what does it look like and do you have any work essentials? ie. music playing…
I have created quite a structured week for myself. Every day of the week has its own focus, which helps me to wear all the different hats efficiently. eg. Mentorship-Monday, Creative-Tuesday, Admin-Wednesday, Business-Thursday and Collaboration-Friday. I would say though that I mainly bounce between my office and the workshop downstairs. There's always an interesting problem to be solved.
What has been your biggest challenges as a female small business owner?
I suppose being taken seriously in the industry - my small stature doesn't always help either. I have learnt that showing up with actions rather than words goes a long way.
Where do you find advice / mentoring for growing Dear Rae as a business?
I have a fantastic mentor who I meet with at least once a month. She has provided me with a space to ask the difficult questions and gain the courage to run after my dreams. Every entrepreneur needs a good mentor - It can be a lonely journey and having a safe space is essential.
Lately lots of new jewelers have entered the local scene. How do you feel about competition and comparison amongst brands?
I think it is healthy to have competition. It pushes everyone to be more innovative, to cultivate an authentic voice and to improve the product. I do feel that it is important to dig deep and challenge ourselves to stay original.
What do you feel is your biggest milestone in the Dear Rae journey?
As the owner, my biggest milestone has been developing the Dear Rae team to what it currently is. Each new person has brought in a new flavour, and getting to a point where fifteen diverse people work together well in a beautiful environment is quite a milestone. Dear Rae is definitely driven by the passion of the whole team flowing together in the company culture.
Have you ever felt like giving up on business and what has motivated you to keep going?
No, I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. Building a creative business is a very stimulating journey and very motivating in itself.
What’s one discovery you’ve made about yourself as your business has grown?
Letting go of control and allowing others to run with new ideas is imperative for my own health and Dear Rae's health as a business.
Tell us a little about the birth of a new range - where do you start on a new range and how does it usually evolve from dreaming up ideas to actual pieces?
I always start a new range based on a story that has inspired me in my personal life. It is very important that the range has a clear theme and identity. This directs my creative process and helps me to create original pieces with meaning. I usually start the process with drawing, then experimenting in metal and the rest flows from there.
The latest collection, Rumi, is a very special and powerful collection. Why Rumi and what do you want Rumi to ‘say’ to people?
The Rumi collection was based on my own personal journey of going through a crisis and having to reinvent myself. It is all about finding your inner equilibrium. I was inspired by many of Rumi's amazing short stories and quotes. The one that encapsulates the collection best is: "Life is a balance between holding on and letting go."
Being a creative female, how important is wellbeing as a women for you?
Wellbeing is everything. I really believe in the mind-body connection. Leading a well balanced life of work, play and health is the only way to finding authentic creativity.
Do you have specific rituals you practice as a means to wellness and self-care as a woman?
Yes, I always make time for yoga, surfing and mountain running. They are all essential practices to help me find my balance. Dancing to good music is also a great form of healing for me.
We all know that self-love as women is hard for us - what part of your womanhood do you celebrate the easiest?
I find it easy to be playful. I think it's an important part of understanding yourself as a woman.
If you find yourself on a stage in front of a crowd of women - what would you say to them as motivation to be the best version of themselves?
Be curious and courageous to get to know who you really are. Spend time on your own and enjoy it.
If you can give the 13 year old version of yourself a piece of advice / wisdom that you know today - what would that be?
You are enough just as you are. Stop being so critical of yourself. Be more patient and let things unfold as they do. Forcing breaks things.
Social media often makes us feel that we are not 'enough' as women through comparing ourselves as we scroll through others' 'perfect moments' - how does social media influence/ not influence you as a woman?
Engaging with social media has never come naturally to me. It is a powerful tool that has helped grow the Dear Rae brand, but handing it over to our brand manager (Amy Keevy) has been the best decision. I feel more creative and authentic when I have some distance from it.
When I feel like I just need to escape
I go into nature.
My favorite meal right now
black mussels foraged off the rocks
My favorite local clothing brands are
My most special piece of jewelry is
my granny's two bangles that I wear everyday
My favorite way of movement is
My favorite season is
summer because if feel free to be outside longer
Life is too short to
not be yourself
Next on my travel list is
First thing I do when I wake up is
Last thing I do when I go to bed
drink some water
Coffee / tea
both for different occasions
Silver / gold
Early bird / night owl
Our Conscious Conversations is a way of sharing real stories and honest insights into products, people and places we admire and feel we can all learn from. Sharing is caring — and this is a series where we express our care in sharing.