“We choose to preserve natural imperfections and be transparent, always, about our business practices.” Alexia Karides, Founder at YSSO.
LC: Tell us about your brand, YSSO, and why did you call it that?
AK: YSSO is derived from the Greek word for gold – chrysso. We use a unique process of hand carving and crafting, which is a natural evolution of the artisanal Greek jewellery making craft.
LC: Is the brand completely yours?
AK: Originally it was, but now I have a co-founder who I met through a friend, having a coffee. It was so random but brilliant – we bonded over the principles behind the brand. We came from completely different walks of life, and I found it really powerful that we are so aligned in our perspective. YSSO started out as a mother-daughter project, though, which is why it spans London, where I’m based, and Athens, where I grew up and my mother was based. She was an archaeologist and historian, with a 30-year background in jewellery design and creation. As influenced by her, nature is a big inspiration in YSSO’s pieces.
LC: How do YSSO’s pieces reflect your core values of sustainability?
AK: We choose to preserve natural imperfections in each piece. And we are always transparent about all our business practices. Each pieces is made to last through the generations and be passed on in a meaningful way. They are crafted by some of the oldest goldsmiths in Athens. All jewellery is made from up to 35% recycled and natural bronze, under a double plating of 18K and 24K gold.
LC: What about the production process?
AK: Everything is done in a workshop in Athens, a short distance from where I grew up. We hand design everything and then get the pieces reproduced at the workshop. Because you melt it and use it again, gold is naturally sustainable. We’ve been working with the same workshop since 2013, and they’ve become like a family to us – the relationships are so important. I want to create a luxury brand that welcomes everyone.
LC: Have you always been in the jewellery business?
AK: Haha, no! I’m trained as a lawyer, but now as well as using my legal skills to support YSSO I’ve also learnt so much about the other areas of business. And I’m doing so much of the creative work and the photography. That’s been really empowering, to learn that I can do things I don’t have any training in.
LC: What’s been your biggest highlight?
AK: The greatest victory is when I’m in London and I see people I don’t know wearing my jewellery, just wandering around the city. Or when a friend recommends the brand to someone I don’t know. It’s amazing!
LC: And what’s next for YSSO?
AK: We are starting to look into doing collaborations with other brands, and want to become a creative hub. We want to create beautiful things, not just aesthetically but in their core values.