I am taking part in Meet The Maker week, and day 2 is “What you make – Is there a story behind it? What is your favourite item to make?”
Thought I would share how I got started, and how what I make and what I do has evolved over the years….
It started way back in 2007 when I had 3 small(ish) kids – (10 year old, 8 year old and 3 year old) and I was looking for a little “me” time that didn’t involve sticky fingers, homeworks and Tweenies, I signed up to a short 6 week evening class of jewellery making …. and was hooked.
I loved being creative, getting to play with beads, meeting other adults, and it having nothing to do with the rest of my life which was currently being a stay-at-home mum on a career break from the bank.
That short course led on to a year long one morning a week class in jewellery making …. I just loved it, and by the time I had finished that May I was already being asked to make orders for friends and family.
The next September was decision time – return to the bank (No!), retrain in something else – perhaps Classroom Assistant (Possibly) or try to make a go of having a creative business and see where it led ….. YES!
So with the support and understanding of my encouraging husband Janmary Designs was formed!
I started working primarily with beads
My crocheted necklaces and knitted wire cuffs became very popular and I primarily sold to friends, family, and friends of friends.
This was the very first cuff I created ….
Soon followed by many more!
and crocheted wire items too
The first shop I approached was Craft Connections in Ballycastle (no longer there – the premises are now occupied by Ursa Minor bakery)
Things were ticking along quietly …. when Lisburn City Council approached me about travelling to Atlanta as part of a trade mission – I know! Me?!!!
As part of that I received lots of sales and marketing support. While I did make some sales to retailers in Atlanta, it was the boost I needed to step up my game back home. I went from being in 1 or 2 shops in Northern Ireland to being in over a dozen within an year. I am now stocked in over 20 retailers in Northern Ireland.
Back then my work was still primarily beaded designs, with the odd additional charm included.
Around this time I also began running kids jewellery making parties …. and by the following year hen parties and church groups too.
My favourite pieces to create, and the most time consuming, were my beaded cuffs or necklaces, sometimes for a bridal party or mother of the bride.
I was delighted when Annie Sloane – yes THE Annie Sloane, purchased one of my cuffs at the official opening of a stockist who also sold my jewellery.
My business has continued to grow – I am now in over 20 shops, sell in my own online shop (I did sell for a while on Etsy), run kids parties and jewellery making workshops for adults, and still create commission pieces on request.
The main designs I sell are now based on charms, but beads still used from time-to-time
My themed charmed brooches are among my top sellers and I love to create customised ones with all 5 charms having significance to the receipient.
If I add in daily iphone photography, blogging, teaching iphone photography and blogging in our local Arts Centre, a bit of digital scrapbooking and “faffing” with flatlay photography in my shed it all keeps me busy! Oh yes, and a husband, 3 kids and 2 cats!!
So there you have my journey into jewellery making – I have come quite a long way, but am excited to see where the next chapter brings me!
So …. what do I enjoy making – everything! I am at my happiest at my dining room table (or in the shed!) playing with wire, charms and beads.
Looking for something in particular? Please get in touch x