Cathy Pope on her Real Women, Real Words campaign

Cathy Pope Real Women, Real Words campaign

Cathy Pope, jewellery designer. Image by Sacha Stejko.

Cathy Pope launches her Real Women, Real Words campaign today which features a beautiful series of portraits of the jewellery designer herself and four of her genuine customers and friends. The women chosen for the campaign include photographer Sacha Stejko, musician Anika Moa, playwright Willa Cameron and wedding celebrant, yoga and meditation teacher Swami Yogamani. The portraits are accompanied by funny, honest and poignant quotes from each of the women and we caught up with Cathy to find out more about the campaign.

Where did you get the idea for your new Real Women, Real Words campaign?
Last year I did a similar campaign called Real Women, Real Friends and I had great feedback, so I was keen to do it again, just a bit differently. It took about six months to refine the concept and find the right women but gradually it all fell into place. It was very serendipitous and effortless how each of the real life models either stepped into my life or we were already friends. This time I called it Real Women, Real Words, which was the subtle twist I was looking for.

What is your relationship to each of the women featured in the campaign?
Some are old friends and some are new – oh and then there is me too. What we all have in common, which is essential to the authenticity of this campaign is that we all wear and believe in Cathy Pope jewellery. I’ve purposely not chosen typical models, these are real life women who each have a lot of experience and wisdom to share. I realized that ironically I fitted the brief perfectly, so I took this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone from behind to in front of the camera. At the age of 44 I’ve had plenty of highs and lows and I’ve learnt many lessons in life so it was a nice chance to share my experiences and let people get to know me better.

Anika and I met a few months ago when she got in touch to buy some pieces for herself and her show All Talk With Anika Moa and she mentioned those dangerous words ‘if you ever need a model…’ We clicked immediately and her generosity, great sense of humour and warmth made her the perfect choice.

Willa is an old friend who I’ve known since my early 20s. We’d lost contact over the years but reconnected when she discovered my jewellery. She has a real magic about her – that smile, those freckles, an infectious energy and a deep generosity and understanding of life.

I’ve known Yogamani for a few years through mutual friends. She was a celebrant at a friends wedding and I’ve attended her yoga. She’s long been an admirer of my jewellery and as well as being drawn to her radiance and deep wisdom and philosophy in life, I was crazy about her beautiful silver hair!

I’ve known Sacha since she was a 16 when I worked with her mother on a film. She’d come to set after school to take photos then about 4 years ago I saw a photo she’d taken that happened to feature one of my necklaces. I asked her if she’d be interested in shooting my jewellery and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Together we’ve grown so much and with each shoot we get better and stronger. I was thrilled when she agreed to be one of the subjects for this shoot as well as the photographer. She’s had a tough year so it took a lot of courage to share her experiences and feelings in this campaign.

What was it like shooting the portraits and how did the women feel about the results?
The shoot itself was quite exhausting as it was a 12 hour day, but we all had a great time. It was a fun vibe and each person has been thrilled with the results. I’d shown them mood boards prior to the shoot so they knew what aesthetic I was going for. I had a professional team of makeup and hair stylists but I was the shattered at the end of the day juggling so many roles – producer, client, stylist and model!

Did you choose the CP jewellery pieces each woman is wearing or did they style themselves?
It was a carefully managed process and each piece was chosen by me based on their clothing ie necklines, colours etc.

What questions did you ask each woman to get the quotes you used and why was it important to you to include them?
It was essential that the captions accompanying each portrait were from the women themselves and not me. I didn’t want this campaign to appear to ‘sales driven’. My aim was for this to be a beautiful series of editorial images that the audience found relatable and would resonate with them on an intimate level. I based my questions on the types of answers I would be interested in hearing and came up with three questions:
1. What attracted you to Cathy Pope Jewellery?
2. What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
3. What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt in life so far?

You have been working with photographer Sacha Stejko on all your CP shoots for the past four years, what makes your partnership work so well and what is it you admire about Sacha?
Sacha and I work so well together because we’re both passionate about what we do and we can be completely honest and laugh with and at each other. She’s incredibly talented and I can be a bit intense sometimes, but she gets me. We’re both still learning at a similar pace and she understands my vision and I trust her implicitly. Sometimes we do a whole shoot and barely talk. It’s a bit like a dance and we know each other’s steps. I’m OCD organized and like to plan things out in advance so we know exactly what to expect on a shoot day. We’re also both good at recognizing that unplanned magic when it happens. She’s also an incredibly kind and humble woman and we’ve supported each other through some really tough and happy times together recently, which have made us closer.

Aside from the women in your campaign, who are the women that inspire you locally and internationally?
I’m inspired by women who have a strong sense of their own style and are bold and brave.  I’m not interested in people who are impressed by flashy designer labels and to be honest I’m not terribly interested in the flakey and fast world of fashion myself. I prefer to perch on the outer edges, observe and come to my own conclusions. It’s a dangerous place to be spending too much time following people too closely and trying to emulate them as you end up feeling inadequate – been there! I like watching people who mix up labels, who can rock a cheap t-shirt with a designer skirt and vintage boots. I’m a fan of prints and colour but in simple and timeless cuts. I’m inspired by historical female figures more than my contemporaries and I enjoy local designers Kowtow and Salasai with their use of bold patterns and simple cuts.

Why do you think women have such a special connection to jewellery and what do you think your customers are looking from for your brand?
Women have adorned themselves with jewellery since the beginning of time. I’m sure it’s the sparkle factor mainly but it just feels so good to wear and can help you create an individual style that sets you apart. Jewellery is so individual and personal and my designs don’t appeal to everyone. I try and design with simplicity, boldness and a bit of nostalgia in mind and am always asking myself ‘Would I wear this? Why? Why not? What don’t I like? What are the elements I like’. I never know at the time of designing if people will buy it but that’s always the risk. Designing from my heart is usually the best way and I find researching, watching and listening to other designers really valuable as well as travel and new adventures. It seems to push my boundaries and all my creative buttons.

Images by Sacha Stejko.