In addition to creating her gorgeous line of jewelry, Pippa Small is also a traveller, anthropologist, mother and human rights activist. We were thrilled to hear about the inspiration behind her work, her thoughts on social responsibility, and the unique ups and downs of raising twins.
Congrats on the amazing success of your jewelry line. What inspires your designs?
Thank you! My designs are inspired by the world around me – I work in many different cultures and I love researching the history of design, the traditions in jewelry, textiles, ceramics and looking into historical material at museums and old collections to gain an understanding of the cultural aesthetics. For example, in Afghanistan where I have been working for 10 years, I look at the Bactrian period when the ancient Greeks lived in the region, Islamic and central Asian art as well as the different ethnic traditions in the area.
I’m also fundamentally inspired by nature, by the shape of leaves, the forms of seeds and fruit, the perfect simplicity and balance of flowers. Lastly, the stones and gems I work with tend to speak to me and help dictate the designs.
You’ve won several awards for your attention to human rights, ethical business and charity work. What drives your sense of environmental and social responsibility?
I studied anthropology and got involved in human rights when I was younger. I also traveled and worked with many cultures around the world, and I’m fascinated by the diversity and brilliance of human creativity. However, I am also exposed to soul-destroying poverty, environmental degradation, and social injustice. I love that making jewelry can be a empowering business for those involved whether through using recycled materials from a slum in Kenya, to using ethical, clean gold from a cooperative mine in Bolivia, to ensuring young men and women have a safe place of work and creative job in Kabul, and also keeping unique traditional skills alive and helping to develop new markets for artisans.
You have twin five-year-olds—what is the most surprising part of being a mom to twins?
The joy, delight and fascination of watching two glorious and very individual people growing up in the same household, having similar experiences yet developing completely different personalities, interests and relationship with the world is wonderful. My older sister and brother are twins and my sister has teenage twin boys, so I have been surrounded by twins my whole life. I love the relationship, the companionship, the protection, the laughter, the shared secret world of twins.
As I travel a lot both with the twins and alone, I think having each other helps them to cope being in new places as they have each other’s support. Managing squabbles and a little competitiveness is a challenge, but I love every minute of it all!
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
Every day is different for me as I travel for work a great deal. I have my own business and I work in a creative field, so honestly I can’t think of anything I would like to hand over!
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
I love reading and escaping into other times, places and psyches. I love music and most of all I love to ride horses— my favorite place to ride is in India at Dundlod Fort in Shekawati, Rajasthan. The Marwari horses are the most beautiful and the desert landscape is heavenly. It’s lovely to sit and share a cup of tea with a farmer watching his herds.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
I am so proud that I have been able to take the twins on work trips to far away places like India, Burma and Chile to experience moments in another world.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
I love what I do and I love the way of life I have, but I do become increasingly emotional and find it really hard when I have to travel far away from them, like in Afghanistan. But generally, I’m lucky to be self-employed with my schedule being more flexible so I can be with them as much as I can.
What was the last book you read?
The ministry of utmost happiness by Arundhati Roy. As I’ve spent so much time in India since I was 17 years old, the country feels like my second home. It’s a country I know and love, and Roy so clearly and concisely outlines its many challenges.
Favorite Beauty Product:
I love Aesop – especially their hand soap… it’s such a luxury.
Favorite Form of Exercise:
Riding horses, swimming in the sea and walking in forests.
What is on your DVR?
I don’t have a TV.
Favorite Kids Store:
Pink Chicken for lovely colorful kids clothes.