Paka Paka, an up­mar­ket jew­ellery line launched by Clare Wiese less than a year ago, has al­ready made its way onto Hol­ly­wood red car­pets. Wiese talks about the ori­gins of the brand and what she en­vi­sions for the fu­ture.

Finweek English Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Natalie Greve

aban­don­ing a bur­geon­ing ca­reer in lit­i­ga­tion, Clare Wiese – daugh­ter of South African re­tail mag­nate Christo Wiese – has turned her en­ergy to de­vel­op­ing and grow­ing her fledg­ling con­tem­po­rary fine jew­ellery brand Paka Paka in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. Launched on­line nine months ago, the jew­ellery line aims to cel­e­brate the ro­mance and beauty of Africa, its rich min­eral re­sources and its pool of cre­ative tal­ent.

Plac­ing the com­pet­i­tive US mar­ket firmly within the com­pany’s crosshairs, Wiese aims to es­tab­lish Paka Paka, which means “cat” in Swahili, as an A-list brand among the Hol­ly­wood elite.

Prior to start­ing your own busi­ness you stud­ied law and jour­nal­ism. Why did you en­ter these fields and what made you de­cide to leave law?

I stud­ied jour­nal­ism in Lon­don at the Uni­ver­sity of West­min­ster straight af­ter fin­ish­ing ma­tric, as I wanted to spend some time abroad and I have al­ways had a love for writ­ing and the cre­ative ex­pres­sion it al­lows me. Af­ter hav­ing ob­tained my jour­nal­ism de­gree and work­ing in mag­a­zine jour­nal­ism in Cape Town for a while at House & Leisure and Marie Claire, I felt the time was right for the aca­demic chal­lenge of ob­tain­ing my post­grad­u­ate LLB.

My fa­ther started his ca­reer as an ad­vo­cate at the Cape Bar, so I guess there was al­ways a sub­lim­i­nal fa­mil­ial in­flu­ence there. I ab­so­lutely loved the three years I spent prac­tis­ing as an at­tor­ney and had the priv­i­lege of work­ing in lit­i­ga­tion, more specif­i­cally in the field of med­i­cal neg­li­gence. How­ever, in my late 20s I guess the cre­ative in­side me wanted to cut loose from the cor­po­rate world and to start my own busi­ness do­ing some­thing in the de­sign world.

Where did the idea for Paka Paka orig­i­nate?

My first busi­ness was Sloane & Madi­son, a Cape Town­based fine jew­ellery com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in per­son­alised fine jew­ellery items, such as gold and di­a­mond neck­laces and bracelets. When I re­alised that peo­ple were re­spond­ing very favourably to my de­sign ideas, I felt com­pelled to launch a more in­ter­na­tional con­tem­po­rary fine jew­ellery brand in the United States – the big­gest jew­ellery mar­ket in the world. South Africa has so much de­sign tal­ent and we have ac­cess to some of the world’s best di­a­monds and gem­stones, so I wanted to cre­ate a brand that cel­e­brated Africa and South Africa, but in a time­less, global and con­tem­po­rary way.

How does Paka Paka ben­e­fit from your fam­ily’s large stake in gem­stone miner Gem­fields and other di­a­mond min­ing op­er­a­tions?

We are plan­ning to use some Gem­fields emer­alds in our next col­lec­tions, which will be launch­ing next year, and – yes – be­ing con­nected to the com­pany via the fam­ily’s share­hold­ing def­i­nitely has its ad­van­tages. We are very ex­cited about us­ing Gem­fields stones, as no­body does coloured gem­stones bet­ter than they do!

A model show­cases Paka Paka’s Zaga range.

Clare Wiese Founder of Paka Paka

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