Like a kid in a candy store, that's how we feel when we step into Studio Beige on the morning of our interview. Past the shiny shop window, behind the pedestals with jewellery, we encounter co-owner Sylvia Vergeer. She briefly introduces their collaboration with The Boyscouts: "Studio Beige has facilitated exhibition space Salon Salon for five years. That was always great, but also a considerable investment in time, so we thought: let's use a new line in the coming period by giving our space a different, less art-driven impulse. We ask entrepreneurs whose work is cool on a different level to give substance to our downstairs space."
Enter Zelda Beauchamp, owner of the Rotterdam jewellery label The Boyscouts. She sits at a round table amid her designs: "My label was born from my former hobby of making jewellery and jewellery-related items. I say jewellery related, which sounds a bit vague. Still, I say that because I created a comprehensive spectrum of things and didn't always work with precious metals or fashion accessories. At one point, I decided to transform my hobby into a brand, and in 2011, that resulted in The Boyscouts. I may say that I have been very successful from that moment on, fortunately, because that is, of course, not necessarily self-evident. Not at all, because I'm not a goldsmith myself. For that," she laughs, "I have people working with me who know much more about material processing than I do."
A world in itself
"I studied industrial design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, so I know a lot about how products are created, how to give them an identity and how to market them to a specific target group. I started The Boyscouts independently, so I had to retrain to realize the product I had in mind. Because I started to scale up production fairly quickly, someone came to work for me, and I hired an agent. That was also necessary because, in the company's third year, Nike approached me to design a medal in an edition of 10,000 copies. So that went pretty fast, and that hit because my idea had always been to put the label much broader than just 'Zelda, the one who makes jewellery'. Hence the name, which refers to a world in itself. One that people may or may not identify, to which we can assign themes and where we can house new collections. Wearing jewellery is a custom that has existed since prehistoric times: you want to make yourself beautiful and thus increase your chances of survival, but also show your saved trophies and victories, and that train of thought led me to the theme of scouting. That is how the label The Boyscouts became a fact."
Minimalist, not simple
When we ask how she would describe her jewellery style, Zelda thinks momentarily and then says firmly: "Minimalist, anyway. Look, the simplicity of the design is paramount, but that does not mean that the jewellery is simple. They are very well thought-out and individual because although women mostly wear the plans, they are not fragile and feminine. I mean, they do have curves in them, but they're also pretty tough and strong. Yes, perhaps that is the most remarkable thing about The Boyschout's style: a bold and powerful character.
And as you can see, we make everything with a nod to traditional jewellery, such as a signet ring or a link chain, but contemporary and modern. What we design is unique, we don't copy anything, and we always look at how a classic piece, such as a wedding ring, can stand out from the dull, rigid standard. Energy is also vital when trying on, so there must be a click between the maker and the seller. Ultimately, partly because of this, the identity of the jewellery and that of the wearer form a bond, which gives me much enthusiasm."
Collection of collections
She continues: "The separate pieces naturally have their style, but my complete collection can best be described as an accumulation of different collections over the years, in which I love, improve and export the best items in luxurious materials. For example, I see that people wear many different earrings and necklaces. In that case, the investment in real gold is sometimes a mismatch for the customer because it is often exchanged. In that case, gold-plated jewellery is a great option. With rings, it is an entirely different story. They are used so intensively and often bought or given for a specific reason, and in that case, real gold is a significant investment. Such a piece of jewellery is a very sustainable gift for the long, yes, very long term. If all goes well, you will have that ring forever, and you can pass it on to your children and grandchildren. They are also fewer fashion items but timeless objects. The stories involved are so unique that is one of the reasons for me to go further and further in the high-end segment of gold jewellery. Take the story of friends who gave each other a gold ring for their thirtieth birthdays. Everyone always contributed to each other, and at the end of the year, all the ladies had received a unique, memorable piece that suited their character, which their girlfriends had lovingly collected. They will, of course, cherish those pieces for years, which is very special."
When we ask whether customers can come and try on location, Zelda says: "The Boyscouts started as a collection that was sold purely through our webshop and through retail in other stores. So we didn't have our place, but that has changed over time because of our unique signature. We increasingly received questions from private individuals, and that's how we started designing on commission. I also like designing for those kinds of questions more and more." Zelda looks back with visual pleasure at another anecdote: "Recently, we were asked to use the gold or stones from a deceased grandmother's jewellery to make something new in the form of three pieces for three sisters. I only now realize it is extraordinary that I sometimes get the confidence to do that.
I'm from Utrecht, but I've lived in the Maasstad for so long that The Boyscouts saw the light of day here and presented themselves as a Rotterdam label. I noticed that I liked that typical Rotterdam mentality. Don't whine; do it. I don't have anything with that blasé-like metropolitan, and I feel more connected to the world from here than any other place in the Netherlands. When The Boyscouts first got their place, it was apparent in Rotterdam."
On the move
So could customers go there for a fitting session? Zelda laughs: "Oh yes, I digress! Well, that took a while. Our first place was a tiny semi-basement place in the middle of the city. A kind of speak-easy among the jewellery studios," laughs Zelda. "It was nice and underground and super cool, but at a certain point, it became too small. Then we moved to a building on the Diergaardesingel, where people could pick up their orders more efficiently. Previously, we opened the front door and didn't push that package in your hand. At the Diergaardesingel, we were able to make the shop into a more excellent place for the first time. As a result, we also opened more often, allowing people to try on products and feel them live for the first time. That was nice if you want to buy a unique piece. People soon came from all over the country.
What was not the case, however, was that we were in the loop, and I started to miss that more and more after seven years, so that is my long-term ambition: a central place in the city where people can also walk spontaneously and where we can also settle with our office and studio. There came a time when I could interrupt my rental contract, and then I thought: I'm going to get on the move and feel the atmosphere elsewhere. When Studio Beige got wind of this, they said: why don't you come and sit with us for a while? They liked it when something happened in their downstairs space, and I had always been charmed by Het Industriegebouw, so I thought: great! That is how this pop-up came about, and I now notice that it is a perfect test case. For example, I am only now seeing how small our products are for the first time and how difficult it is to showcase them live in a shop window. Until now, we always did that online, of course. These are good challenges because, in the meantime, I'm looking hard for a more permanent location for The Boyscouts in the centre. We've come a long way with that, but I won't reveal the site here yet. You owe me that when everything is done!"
"I am very proud of where we have come with a super cool, small, but all-female team. The four of us work, two goldsmiths, someone who does marketing and customer service and me on overview and production. Because I am so close to the process and the customer, we are very good at thinking about possibilities as a team. If someone has a special wish and we don't have a similar piece of jewellery, we can still develop something suitable with some luck. To make that even easier in the future, we need a place that functions all around, where we can combine office, studio, shop and workshop space at the same time. We are now working towards that with great pleasure. I am a positive thinker. I often realize that it is precisely now that I have to follow my dreams and do what is important to me now because maybe I will no longer be here, and if I did not go for it, then it would be such a shame."
Are you curious about the jewellery of The Boyscouts? You don't have to go far this summer to discover the collection. Every Friday and Saturday, you can admire and try on the most beautiful pieces at Studio Beige on the plinth of Het Industriegebouw at Goudsesingel 62.
Photography by Michele Margot