Kristin Weixelbaumer, designer, and owner of Black Betty Design, gives us a glimpse into her multifaceted world.
By Wanita Nicol
It’s been ten years since Kristin Weixelbaumer started Black Betty Design, a homegrown South African jewellery design business that has become known for its unusual, striking creations and perfectly imperfect aesthetic. The granddaughter of a jewellery designer, the craft was in Kristin’s blood; but it was learning about the healing power of gemstones and crystals on a trip to India that ignited the spark that would become Black Betty. The “Betty” part encompasses all women and the complexity that makes each woman unique. The “Black” represents a woman’s inner force. Together, they’ve come to symbolise women with the boldness to step out of line and the vision to write their own stories.
WHAT INSPIRED THE BLACK BETTY BRAND?
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Black Betty is inspired by the idea of owning both your light and your dark; of owning your flaws. We create jewellery that enhances your “dark side” through incredibly unique designs, raw gemstones and drawing from symbols like snakes and skulls.
For Black Betty, the skull is less a symbol of death and more one that is about life. It reminds us about the fragility of life and how we need to take in every moment and live our lives with passion.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT CREATING JEWELLERY THAT YOU LOVE SO MUCH?
I love being inspired by the world – nature, people, moments I experience – and then being able to channel this into the jewellery we design. Each jewellery piece we make has its own story and that is what makes me feel so passionate about the whole process.
The jewellery challenges me; sometimes I need to focus on my delicate side to create our daintier pieces; other times I can let my fiery personality out in designing our bold and chunky pieces. My team is such an important part of this process too and they assist in bringing out all these different aspects of myself and the brand.
YOU’VE ALSO DONE SOME FASCINATING COLLABORATIONS WITH OTHER ARTISTS AND CREATIVES…
The best part about this job is working with others and being inspired by others. We felt there was no better way to spotlight the creativity that exists in South Africa than engaging in a meaningful collaboration with artists.
Our most recent collaboration, and our biggest one yet, is the Black Betty Club. We collaborated with six creative artists in South Africa to create jewellery pieces of their design. The process was incredibly organic. Once the person agreed to work with us, it really just became a free flow of creativity and ideas from there, with many meetings with them and the Black Betty designers to brainstorm, design and create their pieces.
SPEAKING OF OTHER PEOPLE, HOW HAS BEING A MOM INFLUENCED YOUR WORK AND CAREER?
I see Black Betty as my first baby, so there is such a link between in my entrepreneurial life and my life as a mother – the two influence and inspire each other so closely.
My children (and family) influence, inspire and assist me endlessly in my career. Being a mom has shown me never to sweat the small stuff because many more important things matter in life. The ups and downs of being a parent resemble the ups and downs of owning a business, so you have to learn to go with the flow. I’m filled with passion in all corners of my life through my career and through being a mom; both “jobs” remind me to be deeply grateful for all I have.
Lastly, I feel like a mama to my Black Betty team. So, really, in all aspects of my life, there is this beautiful element of motherhood that I so value and from which I am always learning.
ANY EXCITING PLANS FOR 2023 THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH US…?
We have lots coming up. I won’t spoil much but be ready to see jewellery inspired by love stories.
So tantalising… we can’t wait to see it!