WHEN YOU START A BUSINESS AND YOUR DAD IS CHRISTO WIESE
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.
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