Before COVID-19 forever changed our lives, we met inspiring women from our community at the GALERIE.LA store on a regular basis for our Simple Sustainability series.
In March, Victoria our Content & Community Manager had the opportunity to catch up with Seulye Jo, the designer and maker behind the upcycled jewelry brand CLED. In this Q&A, we get to hear about Seulye's background and her inspiration to use sustainable, cruelty-free, and discarded materials for CLED.
Seulye’s style is always on point! It was so fun to see her in GALERIE.LA pieces accessorized with CLED new arrivals. Get Seulye’s look, shop the blog and get 15% off with the special code ROWDTLA at checkout.
What’s your background? Where are you from?
I am originally from Korea and came to LA to attend school and experience something different. I fell in love with California and haven’t left since!
What does sustainability mean to you?
Something you need to keep in mind for your daily life and also as a brand creator.
When and why did you choose to found Cled?
I launched CLED in September 2018. Ever since I was young, my dream was to have my own brand or designs made. I genuinely love handmade works and small objects like jewelry, where you can inhere a variety of themes in one statement piece. I wanted CLED to be sustainable from the beginning. Having prior experience working in the fast fashion industry, I saw a lot of plastics and low-quality products being made and I knew if I was ever going to have a jewelry brand, it will be eco-conscious in all aspects, from the materials used and impact to the environment.
I decided to make upcycled jewelry with discarded glass bottles, without the use of any plastic, mined gemstones, or animal materials. I want to show that jewelry can be made sustainably with existing materials, which can be considered waste. There’s so much trash that ends up in the landfill so we can salvage them instead and make something beautiful. It’s challenging and can sometimes be difficult to make upcycled contents from scratch that is different from the norm, but I think it’s worth it to show the beauty of upcycling.
Photo Credit: Mochni
What are your top Cled jewelry picks at GALERIE.LA?
I love all the pieces I make. When I design, I think of what I’d like to wear, that can present the idea of the collections. The Plateau Earrings are my current go-to piece, which can be worn as is or as a small simple stud. It also comes in three different colors so I change it up according to my mood or outfit. And our best selling Minimal Loop Earrings can also be found at GLA. These organically shaped loop eco gems come in different colors with two types of metals and it’s everyone’s favorite!
Why was it important for you to use discarded and cruelty-free materials for CLED?
Using discarded materials is essential to the circularity of resources. Not only do we use discarded glass, we use recycled metals and even our packaging is made with recycled paper and it’s reusable and recyclable. When I was in the beginning stages of forming CLED, as a vegan I knew I would only use animal-free materials. At a beach clean up, I saw sea glass and that’s where I first thought of using glass in jewelry. After brainstorming and researching, recycled glass was my answer. Since it’s everywhere around us and instead of it going in the trash or being recycled, it can be upcycled and made into unique objects to be used in jewelry. Why not use something that already exists?
What are your favorite vegan materials and why?
Materials like hemp, bamboo lyocell, and tencel are my favorite vegan sustainable fabrics. They’re just so soft and durable. Materials like Pinatex or orange silk are by-products or made from trash and when I see these innovative materials it’s amazing. And of course glass! It's a totally natural material as it’s predominantly made from sand, and when you use recycled glass it’s even better as you reduce waste and turn them into something new.
What GALERIE.LA sustainable value badge do you resonate with most and why?
I think all the value badges from GLA are important as these badges are all represented in the items for sustainable shopping in the shop. But if I had to choose, the Vegan, Recycled, and Local badges resonate with me. I love the fact that we’re able to drop off our items at GLA since our studio is so close and it gives me a chance to check out all the beautiful items in person!
How would you describe your personal style?
My style ranges from jeans with a t-shirt and blazer to a top with an asymmetrical skirt, but I always think of jewelry. Not just because I am a jewelry designer, but I like to accent my outfits with jewelry. I wear simple rings and a necklace daily and on different occasions, I add a little bit of an accent on my ears or wrist. Jewelry can highlight the look deeply - it can completely change with an addition of statement earrings or layered necklaces.
Shop The Look: Beloved Dress Ivory $165 / Zipper Clutch Cerulean $110
What are your go-to places to eat and shop in LA?
Sage in Echo Park. It’s one of my favorite vegan restaurants and also one of the places we pick up empty bottles on a weekly basis. You can find me weekly at the Atwater Village farmers market and in one of the many restaurants and shops in Highland Park. It has so many vegan foods (my favorite donuts!) and independent boutiques. And of course GALERIE.LA! I discover new brands and products every time I go to the shop!
How are you sustainable in your day-to-day life?
Having a sustainable life can be designated in all sorts of ways, but I think being vegan is the most important decision that I have made. I became vegan just because of my love of dog, then animals. But in a deeper meaning, Vegan life affected me not only to think about the animals but also the environment where we live. Being plant-based is better for the earth and the environment. In my everyday life, I always have on me or in the car reusable food containers, tumbler and glass boba straw. Sometimes things are unplanned so these items are handy when I’m out and grab something to eat or drink.
Shop The Look: Canyon Hook Bracelet $160
What tips would you give to someone trying to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle?
No one is perfect and sometimes we forget but we can all make an effort to reduce, reuse, or recycle. For example, when purchasing something, make sure it’s in a glass jar or metal instead of plastic and always have reusable bags or bring your own containers.
Where’s one place you’ve traveled that you would go again?
Cuba or Sedona! I love to be in nature, I feel so rejuvenated and it clears my head. To me, nothing is alike in nature just like human beings, so it always feels different.
What is one goal you have for 2020?
I don’t really have a set goal but I try to stay enthusiastic and not get bored with work and to keep growing CLED. We hope we can be exposed to bigger audiences and continue to show our upcycled jewelry. And personally, I want to be more healthy mentally and physically. Being an entrepreneur I have no time for myself and can end up working till midnight most days. It’s good to follow your passion, but I know nothing needs to be rushed and if I keep doing what I love, life will be filled with everything I pursue.
What are some of your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
@whitneyleighmorris she gives great tips living sustainably in a small home and
it helps me minimize the things I have.
What publications (digital or print) do you read to find inspiration for living more sustainably?
These days you find an overflow of news and information but Pinterest and Instagram are good sources to find inspiration. The Good Trade has everything for all things sustainable, from fashion, food, and culture.
Photo credit Vik Margarita