With lots of in-person markets making their return, it’s time to start shopping again! It’s the perfect excuse to spend the sunny weekends finding wonderfully hand-made crafts and gifts, not just for ourselves, but for family and friends too! Whether it’s a birthday present or a special something for a special someone, gifting a beautiful piece of jewellery is usually the best way to go, and if you’re stuck trying to find it, then we’ve got some of the most unique makers featuring in this weeks blog! We talk to Hardy to Hudson, Gail Ann Jewellery, Vintage Love by Trine, Aria Creations & Red Spotty Dog about the skills they’ve learned to create their ranges, dealing with the pandemic, and why they believe it’s important to continue to support our small business
Pedddle: Where did you first become interested in the skills it takes to produce your product, and how did you learn them?
Hardy to Hudson: I’ve always been a creative person and used to be a florist so I love working with nature inspired colours and patterns. Ever since I was a child I have been drawn to bracelets and how they can make you feel wearing them and that’s where my first collection started. I love the delicate nature of using natural silks and the tiny glass Japanese beads I use allow me get a fantastic pop of colour which is so important to my designs. I’m lucky to have lived and travelled around the world and many of these beautiful places have inspired what I make. I took a silversmithing course a while ago for fun but many of the techniques I use for my jewellery making now are self taught and I’m constantly trying new techniques and materials until I get the effect I want, with quality being such an important element. My husband is also a watchmaker so when I’m stuck I say “I need a tool that can do this” and he usually comes up trumps with the perfect solution, which is pretty handy!
Gail Ann Jewellery: It all happened in a round about way as these things often do! I’d had a small jewellery making business specifically for the bridal market which then developed into making a full range of bridal accessories. After 12 years I decided it was time for a change. I’d always wanted to learn ceramics as I just loved all the texture and surface pattern you can achieve with clay. However, we didn’t really have the space for a workshop and kiln. I then came across silver clay jewellery and it dawned on me that I could indulge my passion for form and texture through jewellery! I took a short course in silver clay jewellery at the end of 2019 and then bought some books on the subject and watched loads of tutorials and started to practice, practice!
Vintage Love by Trine: In late 2018 I inherited a brooch from my Danish Great-Grandmother. I loved it but wanted a more contemporary look so I decided to try to alter it to become the centrepiece of a new necklace. I received loads of compliments and I loved the process of creating it – so I began experimenting with more vintage pieces and some leather items too. I didn’t have any specific training and am completely self-taught. I had always loved jewellery but had never before taken the step to create it myself, so it was a lot of trial and error, continuous improvement and definitely learning from my mistakes! Watching videos, reading books and just practicing with different materials started me off, but I am now considering some courses for more specific skills such as silversmithing.
Aria Creations: I started getting into jewellery making in my early teens, when my Mum started to teach me how to make beaded necklaces and silver clay jewellery making. This is how I started getting into jewellery making as a hobby. When I was in my second year at college I decided to go to an evening course at the Glasgow School of Art for making fused glass jewellery pieces, which has been a catalyst for setting up Aria Creations. The learning process of doing fused glass jewellery does take time but it has been worth it.
Red Spotty Dog: I learnt my knotting techniques from YouTube tutorials and traditional knotting books just before lock down. I have always enjoyed using my hands to creating something different from simple raw materials. I am a huge fan of colour and when I came across Bobbin cotton cord I knew they would help me create the most beautiful accessories.
Pedddle: When did you first begin selling your products at markets?
Hardy to Hudson: I only launched shortly before the first lockdown so physical fairs were not an option but I really embraced the virtual market option and found them a fantastic way to get seen and build relationships with new customers but also to meet other amazing makers and still feel part of a community, which I think is so important in current times particularly.
Gail Ann Jewellery: Due to the Covid pandemic, I haven’t been able to attend any in person markets. I have done a few online events and I was lucky enough to be accepted as a seller on The British Craft House – www.thebritishcrafthouse.co.uk, a fabulous online selling platform showcasing the work of around 450 independents, offering support, advice and a real team ethos. However, I have my very first market this Sunday, the 4th July in Guildford and I’m very excited about that.
Vintage Love by Trine: I attended my very first market in Gatley, Greater Manchester, in April 2019 and loved every second of it. I still remember staying up all night to try to get everything right (but still forgot to iron the tablecloth!) I loved every minute of that day and couldn’t wait for my next market. I now attend markets every Saturday and Sunday all over Cheshire and the North West.
Aria Creations: I started selling the jewellery on the virtual markets during the first lockdown last year and I did my first physical market in August last year.
Red Spotty Dog: I has my first market stall in February 2020 and to be totally honest it was very quiet and I sold only a handful of necklaces. Undeterred I put my efforts into social media and got to know my customers and found an amazing group of women looking for colourful and effortless ways to update their wardrobes. I love peoples reaction to colour and stories they associate with different colours.
Pedddle: Have you learnt any new skills during the pandemic?
Hardy to Hudson: The pandemic really pushed me to embrace using social media and online marketing to get my little business out there. It also encouraged me to produce the best website I could as ecommerce is constantly growing and it’s so exciting to be a part of. I’ve also loved building genuine relationships with my clients and other makers online and social media really helps to stay connected.
Gail Ann Jewellery: Well I guess learning to make silver clay jewellery! I started in earnest at the beginning of 2020 and when we went into lockdown, even though my kids were being home schooled, it meant I had extra time to develop my skills as nothing was open and we couldn’t do much apart from going on a walk! Having that time meant I could really work on improving my techniques and designs. I look back now at some of the very first pieces I made and say to myself “what was I thinking”???
Vintage Love by Trine: I think as a self taught Crafter you have to try to learn new skills every day, or at least improve on your existing skills. I don’t think the pandemic has specifically taught me new technical skills for my craft but it has forced me to improve my social media and online skills and even more so it has taught me to be open- minded to new ideas and also to try to be positive and resilient in even the hardest of circumstances.
Aria Creations: During both lockdowns I have been trying out new skills for expanding my business. I did a combination of fused glass pieces with silver clay, bronze clay and copper clay. I also got into making fused glass trinket dishes for storing jewellery and a little bit of macramé work for bracelets.
Red Spotty Dog: During the pandemic social media live feeds kept me in touch with my customers. I think its important to keep connected and be a real live face in a world that was very different. Live feeds allowed customers to ask questions and see the necklaces in more detail, they were good fun.
Pedddle: What does it mean to you to shop small and support local businesses?
Hardy to Hudson: It really is so important because this is how awesome independent creators can continue to provide us with unique items and stay in business. I for one don’t want to buy the same thing as everyone else and shopping small allows you to find those quirky or bespoke pieces. There is also a genuine connection that you get from an independent shop and knowing who has made your new treasure!
Gail Ann Jewellery: It means so much! Being a fledgling small business myself I totally get that every sale, follow, lovely comment etc. means the world to a small business. Independents put their heart and soul into what they make or sell and especially right now, during a pandemic every little bit of support is so important. I like to shop small whenever I can and especially for gifts and things for our home.
Vintage Love by Trine: To me one of the positive things that has arisen out of the pandemic is the massive support for small and local businesses. To me this means trying to buy as much as I can from the local high Street and independent shops. In my business I also try to buy a much of my materials from local independent charity shops.
Aria Creations: Shopping and supporting local businesses means so much to me because it’s so important to support other small businesses in these difficult times. The handmade products that’s been produced are so unique and you won’t get them anywhere else.
Red Spotty Dog: Shopping small really does make a difference. Being stocked in local shops has allowed me to build friendships within my local community especially with other small business owners. It is definitely a case of community over competition. Online sales are very exciting with a ker-ching notification for each sale. If when I get a sale, my young daughter is around, she always rushes up to me and gives me a high five it’s a lovely feeling.
Pedddle: Since the pandemic, what has changed for you and your business?
Hardy to Hudson: Having only set up in 2020 I can’t compare to pre pandemic times but what it did do was give me a passion to concentrate on during the crazy times and also so much time to dedicate to my business from new designs to website building and online marketing that I wouldn’t have previously had. I’m now looking forward to the future, physical markets and actually meeting my lovely clients in person!
Gail Ann Jewellery: As my business started during the pandemic nothing much has changed for me as an individual. I know lockdown gave a positive boost to online shops and selling platforms as people couldn’t go out to shop. However, now the shops have reopened online sales have declined. I’m sure this will even itself out again when the novelty of going into a physical shop wears off after a while.
Vintage Love by Trine: Having made the decision just before the pandemic to make the business full time it was a real heart-stop moment to find that everything closed down and left me with no income, and I considered many times whether I should return to full time work. However, instead I decided to spend several months doing home care work, in particular end of life care, and this taught me that life is too short and precious not to do what you love doing. So I have now put everything I have into Vintage Love and recruited a school leaver to help, and I am determined to make this business a long term success promoting ethical small business shopping.
Aria Creations: Changes that I have encountered since the pandemic is that I am learning new creative skills in the jewellery making realm. I became more confident in myself and the work that I was producing. During the pandemic I have made so much jewellery and I really need to sell more. Also Aria Creations has grown, which I am stoked about.
Red Spotty Dog: Over the last year and a half I’ve learnt; To take nothing for granted. That family and kindness are everything. That colour can have an dramatic effect of your mood and your wardrobe. And finally that one Red Spotty Dog necklace is never enough!! They are addictive.