The founders of Nunchi, an eco-conscious jewellery brand based in the US, joined us for an insightful conversation about the jewellery industry, POC businesses and their ethos as a company. Jane and Michelle are passionate about creating beautiful pieces that have a reduced impact on the planet.
Please may you tell me about yourselves and how Nunchi was formed?
Jane: Michelle and I have been best friends for years and during the pandemic, we wanted a way to advocate for local, family-owned, and immigrant-owned businesses that we knew were struggling. We purchased unusable deadstock, which were both recycled and up-cycled into new, in-demand products such as mask chains. As part of our reduced-waste mission, we focused on sustainable initiatives to transform waste into sellable products. nunchi was driven by the desire to create a new concept of luxury rooted in equity, sustainability, and diversity and has always had a core identity centered on social and environmental consciousness.
What does Nunchi mean and how does it relate to your ethos as a brand?
Michelle: nunchi is a Korean concept that means awareness of and connection to society. From day 1, Jane and I have leaned into the concept of nunchi and allowed it to guide both our mission and vision for the company. We wanted to build a brand that’s sustainable both in theory and in practice. That includes everything from sustainable materials such as recycled gold and lab grown diamonds to sustainable business practices of body inclusivity, diverse representation throughout our production pipeline, and equity for people of color.
As a POC business, how does representation and inclusivity feed into your work?
Jane: We’re women of color with immigrant roots, direct members of the communities we strive to represent. We have a responsibility to implement diversity and inclusivity efforts throughout our entire business: marketing efforts, internal hires, supply chain. Not only are we creating an inclusive space for BIPOC, we are also reclaiming physical space in the notoriously exclusionary jewelry industry.