Well, you’re looking at her really, and her arrival marked the advent of a new direction in my life. This is Ella Georgia, who was ‘launched’ in the same year as our sustainable jewellery brand – back in 2003.
Jewellery had always been in my blood. As a child I loved beachcombing in Scotland looking for shells, stones and pebbles. These I would thread onto old fishing line and fashion what could very loosely be described as bracelets and necklaces!
At home Mum’s old jewellery and Grandma’s button tin were a magical Aladdin’s cave of potential for even more adventurous creations.
Fortunately I have creative and extremely supportive parents (my father is a talented architect) and so I was encouraged to start my journey and follow my dreams. Together we would visit antique and art fairs, where I began to buy and collect old beads, and to take my first real yet tentative steps on that journey.
As time passed, I developed a good eye for quirky, beautiful things, and have travelled the world in search of precious pieces. I’m an absolute magpie in fact! Also, I’ve an intuitive feel for fashion trends, and my training in interior design has given me a flair for combining colour and texture, which transposes into my jewellery.
For me, design is a form of escapism, and if you’re creative yourself you’ll know that strange world we enter, oblivious to everything, when working hard to develop an idea. Distant times and faraway places are my inspiration, together with nature, art and different cultures. My head’s never empty of nascent designs, and my hand’s never far from a notebook, in which to scribble these ideas down.
Though design is my first professional love, my second is to build a national brand. And, in the context of my jewellery aspirations, this was quite dramatically shaped by my time working in marketing with a speciality tea and coffee company.
They had exceptionally strong views on ethical trading, and would only buy products or raw materials from suppliers who met their high standards regarding the treatment of workers and conservation of the environment. They were fully aware of the suffering and destruction that ensues when people and places are not given this degree of respect.
It brought home to me that tea and coffee ethics are now in the public eye. They largely have transparent, principled supply chains, while those of jewellery do not. This didn’t sit comfortably with me. Third World development issues have always been close to my heart. My BA Honours Degree in Geography from the School of African & Asian Studies at Sussex University looked at the way man, and supposed progress, impacted on the environment. And so I shared my employer’s ethical and ecological concerns. Because of this I decided that – should I ever start my own business – it would have a strong ethical stance.
In the meantime, I was learning much about marketing and retail, as well as about ethical issues – all of which were ideal training for setting up my own online business. But first we must step back awhile.
During my 21 year marketing career I never lost my passion for jewellery, and would collect exquisite pieces or purchase unusual finds on my travels. If anything, the desire to make it a full time career just grew.
Before long I found myself making again – usually after Ella Georgia was asleep and I should have been – and selling to friends and colleagues.
Then, in 2005, came the breakthrough … I was asked to create a bespoke collection for a popular boutique to launch their autumn ranges. It was a dream come true, but I had just 6 weeks to create 100 items! Somehow I made the deadline and the collection was very well received.
As a result I soon began to receive commissions from all over the UK, including some from well known actors such as Hugo Spear and Christine Tremarco. Three years after the boutique project, I finally gave up work in Marketing and started with my ‘new’ full time career in jewellery.
Just as a footnote you’ll notice that, on these pages, we talk about ‘we’. This is because, month by month, our little company is growing as new designers and new suppliers come on board. However, Ella Georgia is still very much about ‘me’. This is because I oversee all aspects of design and every piece selected from other designers is handpicked by me. If it’s not something I’d be proud to wear myself, it simply isn’t chosen for our ranges.
And how is Ella Georgia taking to all this? Well, she’s always willing to lend a hand. And her necklaces and bracelets already knock spots of those created on the seashore by a certain someone way back when!