Women who create: Janine Binneman

I was immediately taken by jewellery designer Janine Binneman, who refers to herself as a “blue-haired mermaid” and obsessed with gems.

Janine’s energy is infectious, as is her passion for her clients and creations. She has been a jewellery designer and goldsmith since 2006 and opened her business in April 2007.

Her energy is infectious!

What is the essence behind your creations?

My jewellery creations are totally inspired by Mother Nature and her incredible gemstones. I am fiercely driven to highlight the incredible variety of natural beauties that go far beyond the normal rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds.

This awareness makes designing for my clients so much easier, as they are keen to try new stones, colours and combinations that are not mainstream.

Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

I try to incorporate each client’s story into their piece of jewellery – it makes each piece an heirloom. “Yes, I am aware that I am rare – just like  gemstones”; this is what I want every client to feel when they wear one of my pieces.

What have been some of your biggest challenges and successes?

One of my biggest challenges is running a demanding business with clients, staff, a husband and two super active kids.

Damn – no one preps you for the business of your life and how often their needs are first and foremost.

It is both a challenge and one of my biggest successes. We are all still alive, no blood shed or minds lost! Well, mine was never intact ever.

I feel incredibly proud that people now talk about wearing a “Janine Binneman” – 25 years of hard work, proper hustling and pure passion has given me one of my greatest pleasure in life. I love being a household name – its proper joy.

Name 3 women you look up to and why.

My mom was a complete rockstar. She was uniquely independent as a single mom in the 80s – strutting her white lady afro and shoulder pads. She touched so many lives as I grew up. People still talk about her 20 years after her death. She taught me that I could achieve absolutely anything if I was determined enough, to always give a hand to those who have less and to be fiercely femme and fab.

She was an educator – it was her vocation. She loved teaching young people but went a step further and touched their lives, instilling the hunger to learn more.

My dad passed away when I was 9 and my mom had to reinvent herself as a breadwinner. We moved to Cape Town and she started one for the first corporate art collections for a large life insurance company.

She broke the mould of the corporate 80s, being one of the only women employed at a senior position in a big  company.

She had big brass balls.

I was reading to my youngest from Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Favilli and Cavallo and discovered Grace O’Malley, one of the world’s first female pirates.

Born in 1530 she dreamt of joining her father at sea but because of her gender and long red hair – which would get caught in the rigging – she was left on the shore to dream.

She chopped off her hair, donned a young sailor suit and crept aboard one day, pirates attacked and she helped fight them off! Finally she had proven to her family that she was good enough to be a sailor.

Soon fishing lost its lustre and she wanted more excitement, the English attacked her castle and she became a pirate!

Grace was so successful that she amassed an entire fleet of ships, several islands and castles.

In one of the battles against the English, her sons were captured and she set off to meet the queen, Elizabeth, to save her boys. These two strong women became friends, Grace’s sons were released and years later she helped defend the English against Spain.

I love that Grace was called to the sea, found her passion, never shrunk herself to be less than the men around her and joined forces with a queen.

So damn inspiring!

What advice/words of inspiration do you have for other women out there?

Find your passion, then work at it until you are the best, most kick-ass version of you! No one can beat that; there is only one you.

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