An Interview with Elea Plastino of Covet + Keep
Covet + Keep Jewelry is in a class of it's own. Created with the modern, badass, lady in mind; we love that every piece is unapologetically scrawled with a very personal sentiment, but no one would ever know, unless you shared the secret with them. The designs are all hand cast and hand assembled using metals such as sterling silver, brass, steel and white bronze. Elea Plastino is the designer behind these beautiful and unique braille statement pieces.
After living in some of the world's most beloved cities (Hong Kong, New York, Sydney, shall we go on?) as a fashion editor, Elea decided she needed to do what made her happy. She returned home to Victoria. She began her dream jewelry line. She's been her own trendsetting boss every since. We're thrilled that Elea was able to answer our questions about making daunting career moves, finding what makes you happy, and how her business has grown into what it is today.
Picot: Tell us a little about yourself / your business.
Elea: Eeep! That's such a hard one for me... I'm a pisces and C+K is a jewelry line?
Picot: How has all of your travelling influenced both your designs, and your messages?
Elea: My travel has allowed me to meet some truly amazing people. Half of my best friends are around the world. Each of the messages in the pieces are inspired by these people. They are a huge part of my inspiration. I call them my wolf pack.
Picot: What challenges have you overcome that lead you to a deeper understanding or a shift in perspective for you?
Elea: The loss of loved ones. Some in death and others not. The feeling of distance from people that used to be a constant has pushed me emotionally and forced me into realizations about myself, my capabilities and my vulnerabilities. These losses have allowed me to get to know myself and have a deeper understanding of my perspective.
Picot: What makes you most excited about the evolution of your business?
Elea: I honestly get such a thrill when I see people that I don't know wearing my pieces. When I look at the numbers I find it crazy and exciting that that many people want something I created. As the business grows it becomes more frequent. I'm excited to see my designs evolve and see them out in the world.
Picot: Can you tell us about a specific time in your life when your path had a trajectory, or had a catalyst moment that lead you to where you are now?
Elea: Absolutely!! I'll set the scene - I had decided to move home to Victoria, it was a quick decision and I wasn't sure what I was going to do for work. I had come from large cities with big possibilities to Victoria where the full time positions I once knew were closer to once a month contract work. It was a brutal shift. I styled here and there and I worked as a bookkeeper; I slowly sunk into depression. I wondered how I could find happiness in the city that made me feel most at home. Then the "moment" happened, I lost my job as a bookkeeper. It was like a weight lifted off of me and I knew that I had to create the happiness that I was looking for. It was a terrible time in my life, but one that I needed to go through to get where I am today. I am so thankful that I lost my job, it allowed me to see the light I was searching for.
Picot: What sparked the switch from fashion editing to jewelry?
Elea: It was a moment in an elevator, fashion editing just wasn't right at the moment, I decided to jump in. It was a distant dream for a long time. What really sparked a change for me was unhappiness in an environment that didn't allow for creativity.
Picot: Has there been a time where you were unsure about your business, or afraid to move forward?
Elea: Daily! Haha, not a specific time when it all became overwhelming, but it is hard on the regular. I think that a lot of people in my generation glorify the entrepreneurial path. It is an amazing thing to work for yourself, but it is HARD! It's a daily grind and you can't switch it off. It seeps into so many parts of my life. The only structure I have is what I make for myself. It takes a lot of discipline and sometimes I don't want to be the boss. Sometimes I don't want to be responsible for my own pay cheque and job security. Sometimes it feels like too much to handle. Then I have a win or I get immersed in the creative process and it all feels right again.
Picot: What is a key defining characteristic or choice you have made in developing your business, and why?
Elea: Listening to the market. No matter how great I might think an idea, direction or design might be, if the feedback is that it isn't quite right then I have to listen to that. I try to analyze it, figure out what part is not right and shift gears to make it what the people want. Not to say that I sell out to please everyone (which pleasing everyone is impossible by the way), but at the end of the day if people don't like it they won't buy it and if they won't buy it well... you know.
Picot: What would your advice be to budding creative entrepreneurs?
Elea: Really think about why you are doing this. Remember that horrible bookkeeping job I had? Yeah, well, guess who does the books for C+K? Yup, me. It's not all coffee shops and hashtags. Even if you're not doing the things you hate, you still have to consider them, understand them and ensure that they are done right. Also - market research. Ask people if what you want to make/create/curate is what they want to buy, how much they'd pay for it and where they'd expect to buy it - it might surprise you.
Picot: Can you list three books that have become gospel?
Elea: I'm not a big reader. The Andy Warhol quote "I never read, I just look at pictures" fits me. That said, I just finished Lena Dunham's book Not That Kind of Girl and loved it. A book pertaining to business or that could be gospel? I really enjoyed Sophia Amoruso's book #GIRLBOSS. It wasn't crazy deep or complex, but I really related to her voice and experiences.
Picot: If you weren’t focusing on Covet & keep, what would you be doing?
Elea: I honestly can't say... I'm so connected to this.
Picot: You've said that your inspiration is raw beauty; what is raw beauty to you?
Elea: Raw beauty is beauty when it isn't trying, it just is, it just happens. It's imperfect. I've always valued interesting over pretty.
Picot: Can you tell us 6 things people generally don’t know about you?
- I wear minimal jewelry and I'm always afraid people will call me out on it.
- I obsess about things. I love projects, I latch onto them like a mad woman.
- I regularly check my bed for spiders before getting in. It happened ONE time and it ruined me for life.
- I love hip hop and 90's RnB.
- Gin makes me dance.
- My go to "dope" outfit when I was 15 was a Golf Punk baby tee, shell-toe sneakers and an astro-turf skirt that I made myself.
Picot: What would you tell your younger self?
Elea: Stop holding on so tight and trying to make life happen. Let it go, but work hard, it will all come together. I am still learning this.
Picot: If you were to create a new piece of jewelry that was a representation of your personality what type of piece would it be and what would the message be?
Elea: That's a really tough one, I feel like there's a part of me in all of the messages. That said, the Patricia earrings that read "touch my butt and buy me pizza" are... well... Patricia is my middle name :)