Business Spotlights: Chupi

Business spotlight - Chupi Sweetman

Celebrating life’s most precious moments with beautifully designed and consciously made pieces

Chupi is a Dublin-based business providing fine jewellery made in Ireland to commemorate love, hope and everything in between. Founded by Chupi Sweetman, the brand is about celebrating life’s most precious moments with beautifully designed and consciously made pieces. 

When Chupi Sweetman started Chupi, she fell in love with the idea that jewellery is a piece of the future; it’s something that’s made to last forever, not just a season, and it’s about moments rather than possessions. 

Chupi explains: “We make pieces that you’re going to pass on to your children so we must make pieces that honour the very best of the world and simultaneously preserve as much as possible for tomorrow.”

Pivoting from fast fashion to consciously made jewellery

Before starting her eponymous jewellery brand which is celebrating ten years, Chupi worked in the fast fashion industry. She says: “I worked in Topshop, solving the Friday night problem – What do you wear on a Friday night? I made beautiful dresses but unfortunately, realised that they were a future landfill. I remember standing on the shop floor and realising that everything I’d ever made was one day going to end up in a landfill.”

Speaking on why she pivoted to the jewellery sector, Chupi shares: “My husband proposed and at the time, I wasn’t brought up to the idea of happily ever after, big white dresses or weddings. I was so blown away wearing my ring and I thought wow, I own something that one day my daughter will wear. That was when I realised I wanted to make jewellery.”

Chupi started the brand from her bedroom and it has grown into a global business with a quarter of a million fans across the globe. One of the key sustainability challenges she encountered was that the jewellery industry is a very dirty one. She says: “Diamonds are not known for their ethics and sustainability. CSR is not an area that excels and so in a way, my superpower is that I’m not a legacy but a first generation.”

“That’s meant that things that have been accepted in our industry for a long time, like mining to take gold out of the ground, were not going to cut it. We thought well, why can’t we use all recycled gold? There’s actually enough gold above ground so that we do not need to mine a single gram.”

Chupi assures that these hurdles have been incredibly challenging but that she believes it is their job to find the best materials possible and source them in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. 

Making sustainability a part of every decision

Sustainability has always been an important issue to Chupi. She was raised by one of the founding members of the Irish women’s movement and an active member of Greenpeace. She says: “That idea was instilled into me from day one and that we have an obligation and an opportunity to do better.”

Touching on key success indicators, Chupi shares the primary one is buy-in from their community. However, she stresses that sustainability is not about perfection. She says: “Sustainability is every choice we make and just making better doesn’t have to be perfect. It was a big thing for us knowing that people are interested in better too. I still fly and travel for work. We’re not perfect and I’m not a perfect human being but I’m trying to be better every day and that’s what counts.” 

Chupi strongly believes in the power of education and its importance to drive sustainability progress amongst the business community. She explains: “If we keep sustainability and make it only for those who are doing it perfectly, no one will change. Sustainability should be considered as an opportunity to do better in every aspect not just the environment. As a business, we abide by the people, planet, and profit approach and consider everything we’re doing across those three areas.”

We can always do better

In terms of the next steps for this successful jewellery brand, Chupi is currently going through the B Corp process and looks forward to becoming certified. She says: “We’re about halfway through and it’s a great process. It has made us look at some things we are doing brilliantly and areas where we can do better.”

Chupi also shares that the next big exciting opportunity is lab-grown diamonds. She feels they are the future of diamonds and that they will change the world. However, she does distinguish between the diamonds grown in Asian factories on coal power factories and those grown in Europe as the ones in Europe are grown using carbon-neutral wind and wave energy. 

She offers one piece of advice to businesses wishing to start their sustainability journey but unsure where to begin: “Do an audit, start small, and start today. As humans, we get caught up in this idea of perfection but no one is perfect. There’s a lot of sustainability anxiety in that people are hesitant to come out and admit to challenges but your customers will appreciate it and this is how you learn.” 

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