How did you originally get into jewellery design
As a small child I always loved to make things. I was the child that insisted on making everything Blue Peter suggested in their craft section. I also distinctly remember trying to recreate Wonder Woman’s accessories from kitchen foil, paint and cereal packets. It was inevitable that I would go on to pursue a career in the arts.
After sticking in the art lane at school and college I made the decision to study Jewellery Design at University. 3d Sculpture was always my thing and jewellery seemed to be just that but on a small scale.
My degree course was very Avant Garde and more of a fine art degree which focused on the human body. It pushed boundaries in jewellery design, and I managed to complete the entire three years without picking up a piece of metal. It was a great deal of fun.
When I finished at Middlesex University, I was full of fabulous ideas but had no practical experience of working with metal in a jewellery workshop. I went on to get myself an apprenticeship in Hatton Garden with an incredible Goldsmith and master craftsman Nicholas Philippe.
What happened with your career in your 20s and then your 30s?
To support myself during this period, I worked in a lot of bars. For rather a long while I was a cocktail waitress in a strip joint in Soho. In retrospect it was really a fun and quite wild period of my life but I remember at the time feeling anxious that I wouldn’t realise my dreams. I’ve always been an over thinker and worrier, especially so in my 20’s as I had such an idealistic idea of how my life should unfold and it rarely went to plan!
Through contacts made from my apprenticeship with Nicholas Philippe I began freelancing in jewellery design for various companies in Hatton Garden. It wasn’t until I launched my first jewellery collection that I really felt excited about where my career was taking me.
My first collection was a big success. Launched in 2000 and snapped up in large quantities by boutiques all over Europe. It sold through a commission in London’s Selfridges and was also bought by Agent Provocateur, which at the time was still owned and run by the very cool Joe and Serena Corre. The collection was featured in magazines and even worn by Kyle Minogue on the front cover of Time Out and Rolling Stone Magazine during the height of Kylie-mania (remember those little gold hot pants?)
The problem was, I wasn’t emotionally ready to capitalise on this overnight success. I wasn’t particularly confident about all aspects of running a business and despite my success, internally I buckled under the pressure to follow up with an even better second collection. Mental health issues were not discussed as openly at that time as they are today.
When Laurent Rivaud, Head Jewellery designer at Vivienne Westwood headhunted me for a job as his assistant designer I jumped at the chance.
I remember Joe Corre suggesting to me that I was too good to be an assistant at Vivienne Westwood (his mums fashion house) and urging me to keep going with my own label. To me though, this was a welcome lifeline and just the experience I felt I needed.
In retrospect it wasn’t a bad move, and I am pleased I joined the Westwood team.
I left Vivienne Westwood six years later when pregnant with my first child. I’d had an absolute blast working with the Westwood team but in my experience, working for a fashion house and bringing up a small child just isn’t compatible.
I didn’t want to miss out on those very special early ‘mumming’ years, so I bid farewell to fashion and welcomed a new chapter into my life.
A typical day in my life now involves wearing a lot of different hats. Jobs on my lists include:
social media, making jewellery and organising and planning production logistics (I have a small team of independent craftspeople, working in various ateliers throughout London and Birmingham that are involved in the production of my products)
Replying to emails, photographing jewellery, packing and dispatching orders, sketching out and designing new ideas for collections, working with customers on bespoke commissions and much more.
My days are busy and varied and long may that continue!
There have been a few career highlights so far.
Initially seeing my work stocked in Selfridges, Agent Provocateur and many other fabulous stores in those early days of my career.
Other career highlights include seeing the wildly creative jewellery accessories that myself and my team at Vivienne Westwood would work so tirelessly on in the run up to the shows, come to life on the runways during fashion week. Those were very exhilarating experiences and definite highlights.
My most recent highlight has been the launch of my own label. The excitement of beginning of a new chapter in my career where I have full creative control.
Do you find it easier or harder now that you are in your 40s to do your job?
Juggling family life with building a jewellery label requires a lot of discipline and time management. My 30’s/early 40’s were all about acquiring these skills.
The older I have become the more confident and comfortable I am in expressing my design aesthetic within the parameters of a successful business model.
I feel that I am always learning. When you have your own business, you are always striving towards the next goal. Every step of the way involves overcoming new challenges and I guess as I’ve got older, I have more self-belief and confidence in my abilities to overcome anything thrown my way.
Have your ambitions/aspirations changed?
My ambitions from a very young age were always to create beauty. From my early memory of making Wonder Woman accessories out of foil and cardboard, my desire to make beautiful accessories which empower the wearer really haven’t changed.
I never wish to add anything to the world just for the sake of making money. This totally turns me off. The motive for my work is always to create something special and unique – It is very important that what I contribute to the world has a design edge, design integrity and brings joy.
This aspiration has always been steadfast and will never change.
What next for you?
I am currently at a scaling up stage. I have big dreams for my jewellery company so watch this space! Ultimately, I would like my brand to be a household name, synonymous with high quality, unique, cool deigns that have a distinctive and chic rock n roll edge.