Camila Klein is Brazilian-born and has a background in architecture and fine art, influences you can see in the sculptural quality of her bolder jewelry. Astonishingly, she is entirely self-taught. Her latest collection features pieces that incorporate the new Tribute to Tribe crystals designed by explorer and environmentalist Céline Cousteau for Swarovski. The crystals were inspired by the symbolic decorations painted on the skin of Brazil’s indigenous Vale do Javari tribes, a reminder of the harmonious relationship between the tribes and their natural world. For Camila Klein, this has a particular, important significance: her jewelry effectively brings Céline Cousteau’s idea back to Brazil, where it was originally born.
When you included the Tribute to Tribe crystals in your recent jewelry pieces, was it a demonstration of solidarity with Céline’s effort to focus world attention on the challenges facing the Amazon’s tribes?
I was very flattered to have been the first designer in the world to be invited to develop a collection with the crystals designed by Céline. I loved the crystals and I was enchanted by the story behind them. This collection created with Tribute to Tribe crystals consists of super-organic and natural forms. By creating a collection with a story and a purpose as beautiful as that, I feel that I’ve helped Céline in supporting the cause.
Have you and Céline met in person?
I had the opportunity to meet her at the launch event for the Tribute to Tribe crystal collection. She’s a lovely person. At the event, we were shown a teaser for the documentary that she has filmed about the tribes in Brazil’s Vale do Javari region. Only a person with a soul like hers could do something like that.
Have you ever traveled in the Amazon region? Is sustainability important to you?
I’m Brazilian and I’ve always lived here, but I must confess that I’ve never been to the Amazon. It’s a shame. I’m very concerned about the environmental issues we face, and I try to pass this concern on to my children—I want them to grow up aware of our responsibility to work to create a better world. I also try to extend this attitude across all the processes in my company.
Could you tell us a little about the thinking behind the designs that incorporate the Tribute to Tribe crystals?
The collection has a very organic look inspired by various forms in nature, with sinuous shapes in metal and the application of cotton yarns, which give an even more natural look to the pieces. Tribute to the Tribe crystals complete the pieces and turn them into something magnificent.
Have you any recommendations regarding how the jewelry pieces should be worn—are they particularly suited to a particular look?
I believe in women´s freedom in every respect. The collection can be used whatever way they feel most confident and comfortable—the important thing is to feel good.
When we interviewed you in 2012, you felt that your business was “still in its infancy—if it were a book, it would still be at the first chapter.” Back then you had 140 employees, four stores in Sao Paulo, two in Rio, and two more opening by end-2012. Have there been any major changes since then?
Today, I can say that we have moved forward a chapter, and we learn more and more every day. This is the great beauty of life. Our company now has more than 250 employees, and we have 14 stores distributed over São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia and Recife, plus an online operation and more than 200 multi-brand points of sale throughout the country. Recently, we launched the “Casa da Camila.” It’s a place that combines a flagship store, B2B showroom, headquarters, and—the most important part of the project—a library with titles devoted exclusively to women, including a special section: donated books that have somehow transformed our customers’ lives. These books carry a personal message written by each donor, giving why they were important to them. The donated books are available for other women and customers to acquire without cost or for whatever amount they wish to pay. The total income coming from the “sale” of these donated books will be given to a social project (in progress), with the goal of emancipating other women.
My intention is to connect women by sharing their personal experiences and life-changing moments, inspiring them to act as characters in their own stories. Our objective is to pass on their transformative experiences to inspire as many women as possible.