Photos by Cicero deGuzman Jr.
Looks like Ecouterre should have a side gig in soothsaying. Just six months after we K/ller Collection as an eco-fashion designer to watch, the Brooklyn jeweler won the $75,000 top prize in this year’s CFDA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge. In the four years they’ve been in business, Katie deGuzman and Michael Miller have created a brand that’s at once gritty and delicate, organic and industrial, edgy and elegant. We caught up with the duo to learn about the origin of their name, the role ethics plays in their production, and what their win means for K/ller’s future.
How did K/ller get its start?
We met in 2000 at Parson’s School of Design where we studied furniture design. We began the collection in 2010 after years in the jewelry industry.
We both had had enough of working for other people and wanted to work on our own terms. So we started K/ller—the name is combination of our names—with the same overarching goal of designing a quality product all made in the United States.
Congrats on your CFDA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge win! What’s next for K/ller?
So far it’s only been a week! We’re right back to working on making and shipping all our holiday orders to our retailers and balancing that with press interviews.
One of our goals is to collaborate with like-minded brands and are in the process of working out the logistics.
What goes into designing a collection?
Our creative approach is really organic. It can happen at any time; it can stem from an object found in nature that we will then take and manipulate. Or we will take a more graphic or structural approach and create a shape completely from scratch.
As a jewelry company, we are quite traditional in our design process and everything is made by hand using classic jewelry-making techniques. Oftentimes the inspiration comes from the women and men who wear our designs and the way they style the pieces.
We often consider how they would wear one piece with a past piece. What would they layer this with to create a whole new silhouette on the body?
Every collection always has the juxtaposition of hard and soft, the dark side clashing with the sweet.
What are K/ller’s main ethical considerations?
All our pieces are made in the U.S.A. All of our materials are sourced within the United States from a variety of different companies, many of which are small, family-run businesses that have been in the industry for decades.
All of our sterling silver and gold comes from recycled metals, and the majority of our brass is recycled, as well. Any horns or quills we use are by-products of the farming industry.