Photo: Oli Hillyer Riley
From the crystalline waves of Cornwall, England to the desert landscape of Joshua Tree, California to Portugal's golden-sand shores, Zoe Morton brings home a memory from every trip – and turns them into jewelry to last a lifetime. Escaping to Italy to pursue a career in jewelry-making, Zoe now travels the world in a converted van – surfing, skating, and gathering inspiration to transform into wearable mementos.
We caught up with the UK-based designer about her most recent adventures, traveling in a van, and being connected to home through the water.
Photo: Left, Jack Snell
Tell us about ZM Jewellery. When did you start the brand and what’s it all about?
I started the brand about 3 years ago. I used to work in photography, as an advertising photographer’s agent. This gave me an incredible experience which really helped me in later years, but it wasn't what I wanted to do forever.
I had started doing a little jewelry on the side and decided to take a course in Florence, Italy. I saved up, left my job, did a little bit of traveling and then drove down to Florence. From there I just slowly grew the brand.
So far it's been an incredible journey and I feel super lucky to have met some amazing people along the way. It's lead to an inspiring support network throughout the UK, US, Italy, and all over. ZM creates pieces from my travels and adventures to remind you of yours, and to inspire your next ones. Our pieces are created to remember. Sometimes going on an adventure takes a little bit of a prompt – it's easy to get bogged down with everyday life – we hope our jewelry is that prompt.
Photo: Right, Vivian Kim
What role does adventure play in your life as a woman?
Everything is about the next adventure :). I love the feeling you get when the road ahead is unknown. I’m lucky enough to have some incredibly inspiring friends, male and female, who are always up for an adventure. They inspire me to never be scared and live life in the moment and to its fullest. I'm super grateful for these people in my life. As a woman, I am grateful I get to adventure and travel. Meeting people from all over isn’t something all women get the freedom to do.
Tell us about your greatest adventure over the last year!
Woweeee what a question. I'm lucky to always be adventuring around. This year though, I was in LA for a while – I had a pop up there and shot a new collection with my incredible friend and photographer, Vivian Kim. I also swung by Joshua Tree and it was really special, such a beautiful feeling there. I have a real soft spot for California and try to get there whenever I can.
I then went up to Vancouver and did my first bit of snowshoeing up a mountain and then a quick stop off in NYC (where I always love to pop by).
This summer has been incredible in the UK. We had amazing weather on the coast in Devon and Cornwall. My friends and I had many a moment snoozing and cooking in my van (a van I converted with my dad) and gazing out to sea, and up at the stars on cliff edges. I also had an incredible trip a few weeks back in Portugal road tripping from Lisbon to Lagos – the coastline there is so beautiful. Another really special place.
Do you surf? How long have you been doing it, and what’s your favorite part about it?
I do, not super well, but I love being in the water. I love the feeling you get when you catch a wave, and I love how sitting out on your board you have such good chats with friends or even with strangers. On my last surf in Cornwall, at sunset, I met a bunch of amazing older men. We chatted through their lives and mine and it was really, really special. The sea is such an open space, literally and conversationally.
How does your relationship with the ocean inspire you?
I love the ocean. I even swim in the UK when it’s freezing cold in the winter. There is something about allowing yourself to feel so small in a massive ocean that is so special and allows any worries or troubles to drift away. Having constant contact with the ocean is a reminder that nature should always come first. I always think how getting in the ocean connects me to my friends all over the world. It's such a calming space for me, even when there is a wild winter storm, there is still that element of calm.
Where are your favorite places to surf in the UK?
Cornwall and Devon – there are some incredible spots on this coastline – it really is so beautiful. On a good day, we have clear turquoise seas, white sands, and perfect waves. (I know not many people think that about England but it really is true!) Whenever I have a visitor from another country it is the first place I take them. I love Sennen right at the end of Cornwall. Woolacombe is also a nice spot, maybe more for the memories here… Camping in crazy hail storms, perfect sunset surfs, and waking up in the van. We open the back and jump down the sand dunes to the water first thing in the morning – just me and my friends in the water.
What advice would you give to women wanting to create their own business?
First up it's a challenge, but don’t let that put you off. Be super open and you will get to meet some really amazing people. There are crazy ups and downs and you have to just roll with it. Try not to judge anyone as you are all in it together.
Learn more about Zoe and her jewelry at zmorton.com.