For Kinraden founder Sarah Müllertz, jewelry shouldn’t cost the earth.
Kinraden is not your usual jewelry brand. The Danish, minimalistic label puts sustainability first, wood is the core material, and the designer originally trained as an architect. Kinraden is creating a space for a new kind of jewelry brand. One, where design and sustainability are equally valued, and the mission is for everyone to benefit from the business. Be it the brand, customer, or clima. “When you have to launch a new brand, I believe it is important to be very clear in the story you want to tell. We have been completely clear,” says Sarah Müllertz, founder and designer behind Kinraden. Müllertz launched the brand in 2014 with the aim of creating modern, yet classic jewelry in a circular system. All Kinraden’s materials are therefore reused and reusable. Gold and silver are recycled and the brand’s characteristic black stone is in fact the rare wood type mpingo, which is typically used for classical music instruments. Müllertz buys leftover material of mpingo wood from the classical music industry, which is then upcycled to Kinraden jewelry. “I found it interesting, the idea of polishing the wood in the same way you would a small diamond. Wood turns into coal, which turns into stones and eventually into a diamond, so it was like finding a diamond mine above ground,” she explains.
It’s no coincidence sustainability became the heart of Müllertz's label. For the architect turned jewelry designer, being environmentally conscious is a personal choice. And one she chooses with each decision. Be it the type of jewelry box or shipment to how she treats materials and her employees. “I believe, as brand owners, we have a major commitment to think sustainably – especially when we deal with production,” she says. The eco-conscious aspect is therefore also present in other parts of the brand. To Müllertz, it’s integral that working conditions meet a high standard and that everyone in the chain is able to earn from the business. The hope is to continue at the forefront of sustainable jewelry and, at some point, introduce a return system where Kinraden will accept old jewelry to use as material for new pieces. At Kinraden sustainability implies circularity, and Sarah looks forward to one day being able to run the business closed circle.
But while Kinraden is steady growing, it hasn’t been an easy task launching the label. “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forward. And that's a good thing,” Sarah laughs. Kinraden is carried mainly by its story. But when launched in 2014, awareness around sustainability wasn’t widespread and Kinraden was mostly seen as a very niche project. And Sarah has at times felt lonely in her journey when being a sustainable brand has given its challenges. “It was really hard to find a supplier that wanted to work with the mpingo wood and, at the same time, lived up to our sustainable demands,” she says. “I ended up discovering a small artisan workshop in Bangkok, which was owned and driven by women, who I now work with.” And while Kinraden’s story started out niche, it has become the label’s main selling point. “Our customers become very loyal once they know and understand the connection between sustainability and the design. People really buy into our story,” Müllertz says. For her, it is important the brand maintains a purpose that goes beyond simply creating new products. Kinraden is therefore not based on seasons, and new pieces come in drops when Müllertz feels they are relevant. “You have to take care of your Kinraden jewelry, which I think is part of the story,” she says. “You have to care for the things you get to make them last.”