If you have picked up any sort of fashion-related magazine over the last few years, you would undoubtedly have come across the work of Corrine Anestopoulos, the designer behind the wildly successful jewellery line, Biko. Born and raised in Toronto, Anestopoulos began her foray into the world of jewellery as a young girl when she designed and made friendship bracelets - ones that had her friends requesting them every day. Fast forward a few years and the designer had a Bachelor of Design in Image Arts from Ryerson University, and in 2004 she created her own jewelry line, Biko, which has become a favourite of celebrities, such as Natalia Vodianova, Kathleen Edwards, and the show Gossip Girl, and fashionable women everywhere.
When did you realize you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
I began making jewellery in 2004 at the age of 21 while studying Image Arts - The New Media at Ryerson University. I didn’t plan for a jewellery brand, but it developed from a passion, which quickly turned into a business, upon graduation.
Where did the name “Biko” come from?
Biko was a nickname I was given by my family when I was a little girl.
Being that you have a degree in Image Arts at Ryerson, are you entirely self-taught in terms of jewellery design?
Yes, I am self-taught. Through trial and error, I developed the ‘modern nostalgic’ Biko aesthetic that I strive to stay true to with each new collection: always a nod to the past, but with a modern sensibility. I love to play around with different materials and processes to see where they lead me.
Has what you learned while in Image Arts helped you in any way?
Of course. At school I learned about design theory and practiced the digital side of design, which I use daily in my current work, and understanding web design and Adobe Creative Suite.
Why is designing around vintage inspiration so appealing to you as a designer?
I love odd treasures and curiosities, and tend to fill my home with them. This love has just naturally extended itself into my work, and it continues to excite and inspire me each season.
Do you have a favourite material (metal, gemstone, miscellaneous) to work with?
I love working with various materials (such as leather, glass, and mixed metals), but I always lean towards oxidized brass as the main base metal.
What would you say is your most popular design?
While each season a new Biko collection is introduced, we keep a constant ‘Classics’ collection available year-round. These pieces are well-loved favourites that are wardrobe staples, perfect for daily wear. The Kaleidoscope Necklace (a functioning mini-kaleidoscope!) has been the most popular of this grouping, and I still love it as much as I did when it was first introduced.
How would you describe the ideal Biko woman?
I strongly feel that any woman can find a piece to make her own in the Biko collection. I would say the typical Biko woman is fashionable, confident, and put-together, but not a slave to fashion.
If you can, describe Biko in one word.
How did it feel when you saw one of your pieces in a national magazine or on a celebrity for the first time?
It felt amazing! The fact that a larger audience could finally see my work was the absolute greatest feeling.
You cite travel as one of your main sources of inspiration for Biko; why do you personally feel it is important to travel?
Travel has enabled me to source new and interesting materials that are not available in my hometown. This allows me to keep my designs fresh and exciting.
Do you have a favourite city/country you’ve traveled to?
Marrakesh, Morocco, was equal parts brilliant, chaotic, and beautiful - I cannot wait to go back.
If you could move anywhere and set up a studio, where would it be and why?
I quite love my studio here in Toronto, but perhaps a move to NYC is something to think about in the future. The vibe of that city is ever-inspiring.
What is your favourite piece of jewellery from your own personal collection?
Each season I tend to pin-point my one or two favourite pieces, which I wear to death for months on end. For the past three months, I’ve been wearing the Mira Necklace, which is a part of our upcoming Fall 2013 ‘Dark Star’ collection. It can be worn long or short, and matches everything! I’m also happy to report that Free People in the US has fallen in love with it as well - they stock this piece on their e-store and it’s been doing extremely well for them.
Do you have a favourite era of jewellery design?
That is tough to pin-point, but I do love the bold colours, futuristic motifs, and use of geometry in Art Deco jewellery. I also love Retro jewellery of the 30’s and 40’s, as it paved the way for fun, glamorous, larger-than-life costume jewellery.
Do you have any plans for expansion?
Yes, we are continuing with our international growth by participating in new trade shows and events in the US and overseas. Also, we're hiring more staff in order to keep up with our growth. I love the idea of having a great team around me, and look forward to the new hires!