Thomas Adamsen (my ex-husband) and I, Annemette Markvad, founded Pilgrim 35 years ago.We started as a trading company – buying jewelry from all over the world when we were travelling, and then selling in the streets and at Festivals in Denmark.
We have 5 lovely kids together – the middle one unfortunately had a heart disease, and died at a young age. This made us stand at a cross road in our lives. We decided to start creating our own designs of jewellery, and this makes a new turning for the company – now focused on branding and designs.
The startup is fantastic. Our designs were warmly welcomed and soon we hired my sister-in-law. She was a teacher but showed big talent for design. Later, Tess and Gemmer joined the design team.
In the design team, we work very closely, and everybody have been involved in the development of the designs from the first sketches to samples and quality control.
When we launch a new collection, Tess makes an overall theme – it could be “Cuba” as an example. Afterwards we all travel to find inspiration – often in a bigger city. While travelling, we discuss the collection and find inspiration, and upon our return we have our mind focused on the specific collection. We start making drawings and sending these to our suppliers. Before pieces is land in stores, they have been through several sample productions and quality tests.
MOVIDA Where are you from?
ANNEMETTE I am from a very small town in Jutland, Denmark, called Gedved.
MOVIDA Your favourite thing(s) in your hometown?
ANNEMETTE Gedved was very cosy place to grow up. I specifically have vivid memories about the local football club. In the evening, the spotlights turns on, the children and grown-ups would gather there. We hoped the grown ups would play football with us.
MOVIDA How did you end up what you do now?
ANNEMETTE At the age of 18, Thomas and I were studying at the University. To earn money besides the studio, I started creating small earrings from glass pearls – we sold these in the streets and at festivals. Quite fast we found out that we could earn money by creating and selling the jewellery, and as both of us had high passion for travelling and exploring, we ended our studio and started travelling the world. We used our interest in jewellery to learn more about jewellery production in each of the countries we visited. We bought some jewellery here and there. My interest for jewellery grew from travelling the world and I started designing jewellery myself. I have no design education, but raised in a very creative family. We have always developed things by a combination of playing and working hard.
MOVIDA What do you enjoy the most doing what you do everyday?
ANNEMETTE To me, it is important to put my creative side to work when designing jewelry and it is also very important to be able to create a working place that’s “high-to-the-ceiling where our highly valued employees are a big part of the “project” PILGRIM.
MOVIDA What are you reading right now?
ANNEMETTE Currently I am reading The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. A fantastic book!
MOVIDA If you are keeping only 2 pieces of jewelries forever what are they?
ANNEMETTE The 2 most important pieces of jewellery I have, both have a history:
The first one is a pendant made in plastic with a small Buddha in a leather strap. A very simple jewellery I bought in Thailand 35 years ago. All of my 5 kids have been deeply fascinated by this little man and almost used him as a pacifier! After wearing this for 30 years I lost it at our local festival. I was very sad and searched and searched for it with no luck. But then last Christmas my eldest boy had made a precise copy of this little Buddha - a little story that I always wear around my neck.
The second piece is a black rubber ring I wear as a bracelet. Many years ago in 1982 we attended our first fair. At the same time Madonna had made a trend with a lot of black rubber rings she wore as bracelets. At that time they were sold at 2 Danish Kroner. We found out that it was a simple rubber ring you use in the plumbing industry when assembling two pipes. We found a manufacturer and ordered 100 pcs. At first he refused to sell this many, as he stated it was only Maersk who could order this amount. But when we started our car and showed up in person to pay in cash, a very fun cooperation started and kept going for a couple of years. We sold enormous amount of these, and this was actually the beginning of Pilgrim. One of these rubber rings I still wear as a bracelet.
MOVIDA What are your top 3 dream travel destinations? why?
ANNEMETTE New York – I love NY!! It is a fantastic multi-cultural city, and an amazing place to find inspiration.
Vietnam – I find the Vietnamese people so positive minded and happy. They have a fantastic culture, beautiful nature and lovely culinary experiences.
India – Sit down in any street corner and you are entertained for days! It is the most fantastic country where anything can happen. I travelled several years in India as a young woman, and feel I got India under my skin…. But no there is so much more to explore. Even though it can be hard to accept the differences in my experiences I have with the deepest slum to my experience with the great riches. India has everything and more to it.