‘Supporting women is important to me’: Thelma West talks jewelry design and philanthropy
International Women’s Day 2022: Spotlight on the philanthropic initiatives of jewelry designer Thelma West
Nigerian-born, London-based jewelry designer Thelma West draws on both her personal story and vast industry experience for a host of philanthropic endeavours. In our interview marking International Women’s Day 2022, she tells us what drives her work in Nigeria and beyond, and how her own experience as a minority in the industry has affected her outlook.
Wallpaper*: What are the key issues for you and how do you support them?
Thelma West: Supporting women in the industry is very important to me. I’ve always had an all-female team and I continue to prioritize that hiring structure. The goal here was to create a safe space for more women, providing opportunities to learn and grow their knowledge and experience.
Within the industry and my job, sourcing is also something I take very seriously. Not without problems, I continue to push for increasingly sustainable practices for the precious raw materials we work with. The people who benefit from the price we pay are important to me.
Thelma West “Asscher 8” Earrings
I am also committed to supporting communities in my home country, Nigeria. A portion of every sale we make goes towards paying hospital bills for children in need and educating young women at the secondary level. I have also worked hard to support the women of Nigeria. It’s important for me to share because my first attempt was a failure. But sometimes we have to fail, learn and keep moving in the right direction. Employment levels are not very high in the country and women are lagging behind on all fronts. I spent some time working on a plan for the Ministry of Solid Minerals which focuses on getting women off the streets and into workshops, jewelry making, gem cutting, polishing and more , all based on the resources with which the country is blessed. It wasn’t a success, but it’s still a necessary project, so it’s something we’ll continue to work on and hope there are people on the other side who want real change. .
W*: Your interests range from educating the next generation in Nigeria to rebalancing in London. How important is it to you that your work encompasses these various strands?
TW: Incorporating these issues and causes into my art was the only way that worked for me and my team. It is a great source of joy and satisfaction to know that when we succeed in what we do, others feel it too. Whether it’s telling a mother that her child can get the treatment he desperately needs, or telling a young girl that her education isn’t the first thing to give up when the going gets tough, it’s a responsibility that we do not take lightly.
The reality is that I feel like I’m doing very little in the face of all the challenges we face daily in the world, but we carry on knowing that people depend on us.
Thelma West ‘Embrace Stack’ Bracelets
W*: Can you tell us about your experience as a minority in the industry and how that influenced your actions?
TW: It’s been a long and difficult road, but I’ve continued to accept the hard work, resilience, determination, and find joy in the middle of the climb. I haven’t achieved my dreams yet, but along the way, I feel it’s my duty to reach out to someone else who needs a helping hand in any way. help him in his art or his life.
I try to find beauty in everything I do, and my heritage is a big part of that. For example, I have chosen to display works by African artists in my space, each telling their own story, not only because I see myself in their stories, but also because I am able to present these works to more people discovering a little bit more than they expected. And who knows, maybe they will become fans of the artists they discovered or fell in love with at studio TW. §