Part of the sibling trio behind local jewellery brand Zoe & Morgan, expat Morgan Sibbald has crafted an enviable lifestyle that balances wellbeing, work and wanderlust.
“Living the dream” is an overused term these days – splashed across T-shirts and trailing after Instagram posts – yet it’s an apt way to describe Morgan Sibbald. As co-founder of jewellery brand Zoe & Morgan, his role enables him to cultivate an enriching work-life balance.
In person the 45-year-old radiates a sense of ease and vitality, and when we meet in wintery Auckland he has a glowing tan – a benefit of living in Bali, a location he cherishes for its creative community and spiritual culture. “It’s also halfway between New Zealand and Europe, and it’s close to Bangkok and India, so it’s very convenient for all our creative endeavours,” he explains.
With sisters Zoë and Ruth, he launched the brand in 2005, continuing the legacy of their goldsmith father Douglas. “I learnt some basic techniques as a child, making simple things with my dad,” he says. “I used to go to his shop after school and look through his stone collections – old wooden boxes with rows of neatly folded white envelopes.”
Morgan’s passion for jewellery re-emerged in his 20s on a trip to India, where he began buying precious stones. “I decided to try making some jewellery when I got back to New Zealand. My dad had passed away, but I found a box of his old tools and set up a little workshop at home and just started making things, and I found that I loved it!”
Travel inspires much of the brand’s direction, and it’s integral to Morgan’s work too; he oversees production, working closely with craftspeople and sourcing stones, while also turning his hand to design and photography.
Recently he was in Morocco creating Zoe & Morgan’s new campaign – a collaboration shot in Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains – and he feels an affinity with Berber culture, particularly the kasbahs made from clay, straw and stones. “Crystals and agates are so common there, you see them in the walls of the old houses.” Traversing the world is a side of the job he relishes.
Sirocco collection campaign photographed by Morgan in Morocco.
“I love travel and avoid sinking too much into routine.” He does however maintain a balanced, mindful lifestyle – surfing and practising ginástica natural, a Brazilian fitness system, and yoga. Health conscious, he follows a nutritious plant-based diet with some seafood, and starts his day at dawn with a moment of reflection.
Above all, he credits his daughter Luella as a grounding force in his life. “I am super grateful,” he explains. “I have learnt so much from her; she has helped me to be more present and to treasure the simple moments we share.”
Currently working on a new range of men’s jewellery for Zoe & Morgan, he shows me some prototypes; all handcrafted, the pieces have a rustic, artisanal charm that’s reflective of his own sensibilities.
Not one to stay still for long, next up for Morgan is a trip to Nepal (off-road motorbikes and hiking are on the itinerary) and the Himalayas is one of his favourite destinations.
“I love to go to places where I can feel a sense of living history.”
Freedom like this is elusive for many people. For Morgan it’s an ethos he gratefully shapes his life around. “I believe we are all wild and free and have tricked ourselves into thinking we are domesticated… it’s like an eagle choosing to be a battery chicken. Each day is a new day ripe with potential.”
An open mind and free spirit are what sister Zoë Williams appreciates most about him. “Morgan doesn’t register with society constraints, he operates to the beat of his own drum, which is something I love most about him,” she reflects.
“He likes to work in the quiet of the night, when everyone is sleeping. Morgan produces some of his most inspired pieces when left to his own devices.”
Zoe & Morgan’s new collection Sirocco is available in store and online now.
This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly Issue 1 2020.