Interview With Ope Omojola from Octave Jewelry
Every time we put on a piece of jewelry, we’re telling the world a story of how we feel, who we are, and where we come from. What is your jewelry’s story? Founder of Octave Jewelry, Ope Omojola, tells us that every raw stone has a story, and she cuts each one by hand to suit its independent character.
We were able to ask Ope a few questions to get to know her better.
Hi, thanks for doing this. Could you introduce yourself?
I'm Ope. I'm a multidisciplinary artist and make jewelry under the brand name Octave.
What's your story? What got you into design?
I've always been a tactile person! I made my own clothes when growing up, and I've dabbled in a million different materials. That said, I never officially studied design. It was always something I kept up on nights and weekends after working a more "practical" job. Eventually, it was obvious I needed to pursue design more thoroughly, and I'm so lucky it's now my job!
How did Octave Jewelry get started?
I took a metalsmithing class and got hooked! It was sculptural and challenging but also very personal. I liked the idea of making little sculptures that become part of people's lives.
Where’d the name come from?
My mother used to own her own medical clinic, also called Octave. I "borrowed" the name from her, I love the musical reference, and also the reference to the number 8, which holds a lot of meaning for me.
Where do you do most of your work, where are you based?
Everything is made at my studio in Brooklyn, New York.
What usually inspires your work and designs.
I always start with materials. The colors of the stones I use inspire infinite possibilities, and I spend a lot of time moving them around like a collage, figuring out which patterns and colors to feature. After that, I like to reference art, history, and stories that have resonated with me. I used to go to museums a lot before the pandemic, and would always return home with shapes and color combinations in my head. Now, I take long walks through Brooklyn and take photos of anything I see that might make it into my work later.
What would you like people who aren't African to know about you, your designs, and your products?
Hmm, interesting question! For Africans, I would encourage everyone to have more curiosity about African artists as well as those throughout the diaspora. There's so much at home, and we need to value and promote it. I grew up mostly in the US and learned very little about Nigerian art, or any African art in general - it was taught as very monolithic and outside of the "canon". That's incorrect. Now, I'm trying to learn more about African art history, and adding books to my collection little by little. There are so much creativity and innovation! The same goes for non-Africans - take a hard look at how you consume art and culture, and most of all, be curious!
What have you learned throughout your journey with Octave Jewelry?
I'm still learning new things every day. Most of all, try to enjoy the process of everything instead of being so focused on some endpoint in the future.
What's your favorite African food?
I have a soft spot for Ogbono and Egusi. Two perfect foods! Jollof Rice is a big comfort food for me too.
Is there anything else you'd like everyone to know?
Statement jewelry can and should be worn every day! We shouldn't wait for "special occasions" to adorn ourselves.