Hailing from Singapore, Karen is the founder of the label Drake & Barnett. She is a graduate of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts from the pioneer batch of jewellery designers. Her journey to starting her own label has traversed through sifting diamonds, advertising and branding, a stint imparting her own design techniques to precocious talents at NAFA which culminated in the creation, Drake & Barnett. Often being misread that her works are rebellious and bold, but underneath it all, her pieces are stories left untold. Part of Karen’s design process is in resonating the clients desire and interpreting feelings into beautiful, luxurious and poetic adornments.
Karen’s designs are truly inspired by her tumultuous childhood and the sources of inspiration that helped her forge ahead. Her latest collection “The End is the Beginning” goes out to her late guardian who was her source of inspiration and embodies the themes of re-birth, courage and perseverance. Being fostered out as a baby and living through donation and kindness, Karen’s inspiration is based on a biographical journey of the people she has met and creates them with significant metaphors.
Between 2003-2006 she was the co-founder of Metalskinz, a self funded online directory aimed at helping graduate students and budding designers to show case their portfolios. When Karen is not designing fine jewellery, she does various outreach projects such as teaching jewellery design to a shelter for abused and homeless (mistreated) women and a youth home to help troubled and ex-offender youths reach their potential and discover their talents. She believes that everyone has the ability to turn their life around, with the given opportunity.
Karen later decided to return to her alma mater as a part time lecturer from 2007-2012 where she imparted her own concepts of jewellery design. She has also been instrumental in developing the next wave of jewellery designers across the age group of 18-60, with many starting their own enterprises. As a champion for the cause of the Singapore jewellery industry, Karen was bestowed by the GIA’s (Gemological Institution of America) 80th anniversary scholarship, with Ms Donna M. Baker (President/CEO) as her benefactor.
This dynamic designer-entrepreneur is a true luminary.