This week we’ve chosen three fantastic jewellery makers to feature, celebrating their artistry and the beautiful pieces they make. Introducing Laura Holland Jewellery, Popeye & Daisy and Design Vaults.
We got to know them each a little better, discussing how they discovered their craft, trading at markets, shopping small and what makes jewellery such a special gift.
Pedddle: Where did you first become interested in the jewellery skills you need to produce your products, and how did you learn them?
Laura Holland Jewellery: I’ve always loved designing and making things and started making jewellery as a hobby. When I was at Uni I first started selling at the weekly market at the students’ union. My jewellery style back then was very different to what it is now and I mainly used beads, charms and silver-plated chains. I then got hooked on quirky vintage charms as well as using antique bronze and gold-plated metal and ventured out to local craft markets in and around Sheffield.
I took a little break when my daughter came along as I didn’t have the time or energy and then a couple of years later I took a ring making day course, which reignited my love of jewellery making and opened up the possibility of using sterling silver.
Whilst looking for a personalised necklace for myself with both mine and my daughter’s initials on, I decided that I could in fact make it myself with the right materials and tools, so I bought a metal stamping kit, watched a lot of jewellery making tutorials and everything took back off from there. I have mainly been self-taught and have used many online jewellery resources to continue learning and developing my skills.
Design Vaults: I returned home to the UK after living in Hong Kong to get married, and I’d worked at establishing myself as a specialist marketing planner in the banking sector, (after working in telecoms for 11 years). However, both my husband & I commuted to London from Bath and after having my daughter, I decided to take the opportunity to retrain in an
area I’d always loved, jewellery, so that I could be around to bring up our child whilst exploring a concept I’d had in mind for years for a jewellery line.
I retrained at Touchmark Studio’s in Bristol and with Clare John in Gloucester, and continue to attend specialist courses to develop my skillset. Both of these businesses are run by strong, expert women in their fields and they’ve inspired me to challenge myself since I first retrained in 2016.
I now specialise in creating modern jewellery using sterling silver, gold & resin. I launched my first collection at the Holburne Museum in Bath – the idea I’d toyed with for years was finally a product! The Moments Collection celebrates experiences of, and moments lived, in iconic locations around the world – the first City to feature in this collection is Bath. I loved the process to launch this product – it wasn’t without its hurdles but it gave me the confidence to expand to the point where I can’t keep up with my new product development ideas.
Pedddle: Jewellery is always such a special gift. Why do you think this is?
Laura Holland Jewellery: A lot of my pieces can be personalised, which often make perfect keepsake gifts. Offering a timeless collection that can be worn every day is also appealing to a lot of customers and especially with necklaces it’s easy to choose a very simple piece or a more elaborate charm to suit the recipient.
Every piece of jewellery I make is presented in a gift box or on an earring card and gift wrapped, making it even easy to give to someone as a special gift.
Design Vaults: Be it a £15 pair of earrings or a £250 necklace, I believe that jewellery has real meaning to ourselves and others, and that we carefully select a piece of jewellery based on the feeling of happiness it will bring.
I made a personalised necklace for my sisters 40th birthday and the joy on her face was magical. Gifting jewellery doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable and significant to the wearer.
Pedddle: The events of this year have thrown most people’s plans off kilter, understandably, but it’s great to see everyone making plans despite the adversity. What’s next for your business, are you launching anything new?
Laura Holland Jewellery: I have recently launched a new gemstone collection, which I’ve really enjoyed putting together and it’s brought some colour to the range of my jewellery.
I have also recently set up my soldering equipment, so will be launching a ring collection before Christmas and also launching a birthstone add-on option, which will mean customers can add on a birthstone charm to any necklace to further personalise their jewellery.
Design Vaults: I tested a new necklace at the Christmas markets I attended last year and I couldn’t keep up with demand! My Peek-a-Boo Star & Heart
Necklaces (pictured below) come in a range of 4: a hammered circle with a heart or a star peeking through, or a 2 layer pendant which combines silver & gold in one piece. My best seller is the star 2 layered necklace (read on to see this image!).
Pedddle: Markets have also been on hold for much of the year, but we can’t wait to get back to them. What first made you consider selling your products at markets, and what do you love most about them?
Laura Holland Jewellery: I knew I had to start selling my jewellery early on, so that I could fund buying more charms and beads so I could make more. Once I had started selling at the students’ union market, I explored what other local markets I could also attend and most months I was setting up my stall somewhere.
I love the feedback you get from an in-person market and being able to tell customers a bit more about your products and how things are made. Having that interaction is also great to help people find exactly what they want, and quite often it’s easy enough just to swap the length of a chain or add on a charm to find the right piece for them or a gift they’ve been looking for. You don’t always get that level of personalisation with big brands.
Design Vaults: At first, the thought of selling at a market – local or national – horrified me and definitely put me outside of my comfort zone. I love to make jewellery but having to sell it face to face wasn’t easy!
After finding the best local markets for me, I love the fact that by selling at a market, I can share my jewellery journey and assess what’s selling well – & what’s not!
I love that customers return to my stand year after year, giving me faith in the products I make. I see customers or friends around Bath wearing their purchases and take real pride in those moments. I’m not a natural salesperson and don’t naturally feel comfortable behind a stand, but I’ve met so many other talented stallholders over the years that selling at
markets has become more comfortable to me. I definitely wouldn’t give it up now.
Pedddle: Markets help you find independent traders and make it easier to shop local. Why do you think shopping small is so important?
Laura Holland Jewellery: When you shop small you know you are personally supporting an independent maker who will often be doing what they are doing because they are passionate about creating beautiful handmade products. As a result, there is a level of care and attention to detail and customer service that can be more personal than a larger brand or business.
One of the things I love about my business is being able to offer personalised jewellery and receiving custom orders to make something special for a customer which you know will be treasured. I enjoy the challenge of meeting a customer’s brief and helping them to design something which they can’t find on the high street. In return it also becomes more personal and special to them.
Design Vaults: In each stage of my business, I’ve sought to shop local. I’ve used local businesses to print, design & develop artwork, source materials or work with me on developing my website, etc. Investing in and supporting local is an integral part of Design Vaults and I’ve worked hard at maintaining this principle.
To support this further, I also work with a number of local initiatives – from the Royal United Hospital in Bath and their Art at the Heart initiative, where I donate a third of all sales exhibited to the hospitals wellbeing programme, to Off The Record, a local charity that provides emotional health & wellbeing support to young people.
Small, independent businesses have soul. As an indie, you invest so much of yourself in your business that, when someone invests in you by buying your products, they’re investing in your future success. By supporting small businesses, each buyer is supporting a local community & helping local businesses to thrive. What’s more important that that?