Sydney-based jewelry designer Victoria Cheatham creates precious treasures for you to wear designed to empower and release your inner goddess. Add a little sparkle and magic into your life with her Lotus Mendes creations! I’m a huge fan of her work (I wear a Lotus Mendes Goddess Ring daily) as is magazines Grazia, NW, OK, Famous, Cleo, Shop Til You Drop, Who and more. Lotus Mendes creations have adorned celebrities such as The Veronicas, Jacinta Campbell and Mel B (Scary Spice) with the fan base growing with each new spectacular collection released. LM embraces five acts: RESPECT, TRUST, LOYALTY, LOVE, and HONOR. Recently I caught up with Victoria (pictured below) to chat about her beginnings, Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (which her jewels premiered at in 2011), her inspirations and the magic that is Lotus Mendes.
Where did you start selling your jewelry? What was the response like?
I have been creating and designing precious jewels for over 12 years for myself and for friends. It all started because I never wanted to be seen in the same piece as anyone else. I wanted and craved uniqueness and individualism so I would sit in my studio for hours creating and designing. As I created more and more pieces I knew it was time I started to actually make money from what I did so I started to sell my jewelry at Bondi Markets (about five years ago). I would sell one-off pieces that I had made. It was actually difficult for me to sell off some of the pieces I had made as they all had a meaning to me and every piece of jewelry had a magical element to it.
The response to my pieces was always different – some people loved what I did and some people did not get it. For me to create jewelry, it was like there was a force that was inside of me that I could not stop. It was about making women feel and look amazing – that if they understood the magical element of jewelry they would understand the power it could unleash within them. My passion was for others to feel what I felt – for all women to feel individual, unique and unstoppable. I use my body as a blank canvas and my jewelry is like my oil paint, each day I paint a different picture using my jewels.
After selling pieces at the markets for a while, I knew that I had to now take it to the next level and start looking into the manufacturing side of things which, has taken me a good four years to perfect.
When did you start down the creative path?
My life is about designing, creating and making precious jewelry for woman and men. It is my passion and my ultimate love (oh and my darling husband!)
I started making very long bead and crystal earrings, moving into glomesh, stones and then metals. For inspirations I used to visit second hand shops and try and find the oldest piece of jewelry – to which I would create something new. I loved to blend the old with the new as it made me feel as if I was bringing the past into the present and creating a new meaning for it. After constantly being asked where I bought my jewelry from, I realised it was time to make this into a business.
Passion for what I do is an understatement: I want woman to feel unique, individual, beautiful and truly believe in themselves that they can do anything they want in this world. Jewelry to me is magical. They are pieces of timeless beauty that possess powerful magical energies that can transcend a message to its wearer: if you believe this you can make anything happen.
My ultimate aim is to continually design collections that come from my heart, to have my customer wear a Lotus Mendes piece and feel what I feel when I am creating the piece. To ultimately create pieces that: speak without saying a word.
Do you have any official qualifications? Do you think formal training is important to what you do?
I am a self-taught jewelry designer but I do have business qualifications. I studied at University and have a Bachelor Degree in Communications – Majoring in Public Relations. When I knew I was going to turn my passion into a business, I then went and studied Fashion Business at FBI College in Glebe, Sydney. I believe that some people have a natural ability and talent that they use and others, if they choose, can be taught. Practice makes perfect—you can do anything you set your mind to—but I am a strong believer in the fact that education is important and that we can never stop learning from each other. You can never gain enough wisdom and knowledge from the people who have succeeded in your chosen industry.
How did you get your start doing artistic/creative things for a living?
I was selected to show my first range at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW) – To showcase at RAFW 2011 was a total mixed bag of emotions for me. As each design and each piece of jewelry has such a meaning behind it, I have to admit I was fearful of rejection but, I knew it was make or break time. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else as a career so, I knew the time was right for me to launch my label and get my pieces out there. I was really ready for it. Ready for whatever was to happen…
What was the highlight of RAFW?
Firstly to be accepted to showcase at RAFW was amazing! That instantly released most of my fear I had about allowing the public to see my work and to be part of my inner creativity. For me, my creativity is a really personal and passionate journey so knowing people would be seeing it was like something was being released inside of me. One moment I have etched in my memory is seeing Lotus Mendes up on the wall with all the other designers. I knew then that it was all happening and Lotus Mendes was on her way to success! Also, to see lots of people looking into my display case and receiving rave reviews made me realize that all my hard work was about to pay off and that it was my time. People now are beginning to really understand where I am coming from with my designs. Also, having to constantly refill my look books and business cards was a good sign ha!
How did you prepare for a massive event like RAFW?
Work, work and more work!! I think being able to prepare for such a big event defines and shows how passionate you really are. There are so many little aspects that you have to get done that you really have to be organized. I also did a lot of visualizing about how I wanted my pieces to be displayed and set up –I thought of a few really crazy ways to display my pieces such as on a clear custom made perspex box filled with coloured crystals and water and then realized that it was probably not really possible to get it made in time so opted for a more simple, chic and clean look. After all it was about my jewels and there own presence and magical elements that would be enough for people to be drawn to them.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced?
The biggest challenges have been trying to find the best factories to work with to produce my designs. This process has taken more than six years and I am still forever learning everyday more about the manufacturing and production side of things. Everyday can be a challenge but if you love what you do then you just keep on doing what you do! Being creative and having your own business is a huge challenge in itself. You have to be extremely self motivated and passionate and know your market inside out to be successful in this industry.
What makes your artistic style different?
My style all comes from within. My style personifies my emotions and my feelings. Every piece I create has a meaning which I pass on to the wearer. My style is more about portraying a message to the wearer about understanding life itself and how adorning yourself with precious jewelry it can have such a positive effect on your own being. I believe that jewelry is magical and I create pieces that “speak without saying a word”.
What’s your favourite thing you have created so far?
That would have to the Powerful Goddess Ring. I have now released it in 14 colours and this is just the beginning. My plan is to have every shade of colour in the whole world within five years so if you are searching for a colour for your outfit and you cannot find it anywhere you will definitely be able to find it at Lotus Mendes.
Who do you look up to in the creative world and what is it about them that appeals to you?
I believe that every artist is amazing in their own way. To tell you the truth I never looked at magazines until I started to be in them myself. I have read many biographies of famous designers and one of my favourite would have to be Gianni Versace as his philosophy on woman and wanting them to feel and look beautiful is very similar. His passion was so intense and I can remember when I was reading his biography I started to cry because there was actually someone who had the same intense beliefs and passion for woman as I did.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I have an amazing support system around me which helps incredibly, but it’s like I have a force inside of me that just makes me create and design. I have no choice really as I am creating even when I sleep. There is this underlying force and want to be able to make every woman feel powerful, strong, beautiful and believe she can do anything she wants that ultimately motivates me the most. To know I have had a positive effect on someone is the reason I create. It’s the best feeling ever and really gives me a purpose.
What are your greatest inspirations?
Life! Life is the greatest inspiration of all. Being alive, having a wonderful husband and family and knowing I can make a difference through my creativity. Everyday I am inspired by what I see, feel and believe. Through these emotions I then create pieces that mirror what I feel, believe and want to teach.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am now working on my next range which is so exciting! I just can’t wait to see my samples! I visualize them everyday. This is the best part when you really visualize a design then see it come to fruition is an amazing feeling! There are also a number of other projects going on but don’t want to say too much!
Have a magic day friends!