When Carmen from 21 Folds reached out to me with regard to doing a collab, I spent some time looking through her posts and creations, and couldn’t actually believe that these detailed, tiny earrings were handmade with so much love and talent. She has a process to get here, and every piece is unique. Owning a pair of 21 Folds earrings is literally like owning a piece of art!
Yesterday we met up as she had created a pair just for me, and I had to hold myself back from giving her a great big squeeze (#socialdistancing), so we settled for elbow taps and squeals. I immediately came home, threw on the earrings and put together a crazy makeup look to match the magic of my unicorn origami earrings.
The earrings also reminded me why I am so obsessed with unicorns…
“When you hear hoofbeats look for horses not zebras.”
This is a saying that is common in the medical fraternity, and means that doctors should always look for the most common reason for the specific symptoms the patient is experiencing – so rather than assuming the person has a rare disease, assume it is something “normal”. It is for this reason that rare patients are often referred to as zebras. However, I think we should be known as unicorns as we are so rare, magical, and often a little crazy! We shouldn’t exist, but we do, and we often try spread love and positivity wherever we are.
However, I digress, let’s get back to Carmen and her beyond-your-wildest-dreams talent!
Your name: Carmen Esterhuizen
Business name: 21Folds
3 funs facts about you:
- I am a complete fantasy, scifi and DnD geek. I helped launch sci-fi and fantasy indie publisher Stubborn Raven and edited my husband’s short story for publishing.
- I for sure have ADHD, watermelon and mash potatoes are some of my favourite foods, but not together…never together.
- My husband & I are obsessed with travel and I have been to over 30 countries, on many a shoestring-budget but it is always an adventure.
Not so fun facts but facts nonetheless:
I have a Post grad in business from Wits business school, this has allowed me to consult in various fields and allows for a lot of insight in my own practice and businesses. #canrecommend
I’m a practicing audiologist and speech therapist, my practice is at Milpark hospital, I love my work in the medical field.
Tell me a bit more about your business: 21Folds is still brand spanking new and currently we offer paper origami earrings as our main product! I can’t say it better than our about page so here it is:
A celebration of the intricacies of paper folding and the joy of wearing a piece of art. Each piece is designed with thought and made with passion. Welcome to 21Folds, where I blend art and adornment!
I create origami masterpieces that you can wear. But to me it’s more than jewelry – these origami pieces are the manifestation of what makes creating so amazing and fulfilling: An unavoidable wonderlust, forgetting about perfection and celebrating the wonderful, and the willingness to collaborate with my fellow human.
The variety of collections, which is the paper type and pattern, and the folds, are chosen and created in such a way that you will be able to find the collection style that speaks to you.
Why origami: A friend actually left her origami book with some paper behind when she immigrated and I decided to pick it up one day in November last year, it frustrated the hell out of me so I just kept forging ahead until one day the technique clicked. Once it clicked I was really hooked on it and just kept escalating to more complex folds! (I always had some sort of folding gene where every school newsletter was folded up into a tiny square to get lost in the bottom of my backpack until the end of the term.)
Have you always been interested in creative things: Yeah, I’ve always dabbled in something or the other, be it painting large murals on our house walls, editing books, building a desk (a circular-saw is for sure one of the best birthday gifts I have received recently) or just doodling. I was one of those kids that did every single extra-mural activity be it sports, arts or culture. Everything interested me (just not accounting). I think I enjoy learning a new skill and problem solving the most of all and it leads me into various creative spaces. Origami just seems to keep my interest more than most things., possibly a true passion has been born.
Why did you start this business: I received origami earrings as a gift over Christmas while traveling in Chille and Argentina, it was at the time where origami really became a pass-time for me, and I was like – ‘I could fold that’ and just started experimenting and creating more and more different folds and designs, pushing to get them smaller and smaller. I initially planned to start in selected store fronts and markets first and get a feel for what works before launching online but then covid hit so I had to pivot and push all my resources into developing a website and solidify my concept, and here we are!
So to sum it up, basically I started more out of pure joy of creating and the need to share that love and passion.
What makes your earrings so unique: Well even if I try the chances of me making two pieces exactly the same is very slim. Each paper pattern unfolds in its own way, I have an idea of where to place certain colours on certain folds to try and place a pattern in a specific spot, but in general I just let the folds go where they want. I also strive to collaborate with other artists, and humans are at the core of my inspiration for my art.
Do you do custom orders: Not yet but soon! At the moment my focus is on solidifying my brand and growing a following, there will however be some limited edition (one of a kind type) ranges coming out!
What has been your favourite pair of earrings that you have created: Oh gosh it’s like picking your favorite child! The Mori & Mukai collections are possibly my own personal favourites, not just because of the earring designs but because of the amazing women they were inspired by, it feels like the two women are polar opposites – one creative, artsy and a fashion designer and the other a doctor, astronaut and scientist. Both of these resonate with me, I love that I can be a medical professional and an origami artist, a DnD geek and a netball jock, I like that different things can occupy the same space. I think that’s true creativity.
How can people order from you: Online from my store www.21folds.com. Soon in some selected stores, and hopefully international shipping will be available in the near future.
Who do you think would enjoy your creations: Anybody that loves origami, art and design and appreciates the intricacies of the technique and how it blends with the art. I try to design something for everyone.
Quote you live by:
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious” Albert Einstein
“Fake it till you make it”
Anything else you want to add: It takes 21 folds for me to fold the iconic crane, my first origami animal I folded, thus 21folds was born!
I have two adorable spaniels, you can check out their shenanigans on @a_bork_able!
We are launching a giveaway today on my social media platforms, where you can win a pair of the gorgeous unicorn earrings for yourself. These are not available for sale on Carmen’s website, and simply can’t hold a value due to the uniqueness and love!
Thank you so much Carmen for all that you are doing, and for sharing your talent with us. You truly are one in a million, and I can’t wait to see more people wearing these beautiful creations.
Have you ever tried origami? And what have you created?