5 Minutes with FERA Jewellery
Posted on 01 March 2017
FERA Jewellery is a handmade jewellery brand born out of a fascination for the alchemical properties of metal and gemstones. Created by Jo Gordon, a British designer maker, currently residing in South East Asia uses her jewellery as a creative expression of her intrigue for the magic, the rituals and the mythology in many cultures.
Jo studied her traditional jewellery making techniques at the renowned School of Jewellery which led on to the creation of FERA in 2014. Jo now lives a somewhat nomadic life through her passion for travel and foreign cultures. Her global wandering has of course, influenced her work and you will now very rarely catch her in one place. I think from memory, when we first started speaking, Jo was hiding out down under in Australia but today she can be found in South East Asia.
Through this interview, we hope to give you a real insight into the brand, it's origins and to really tell you the story of Jo Gordon and how she got to where she is today.
Hi Jo, let's start from the beginning, where did you grow up?
The Cotswolds, such a beautiful area with just the most amazing countryside and quaint little houses
What was your first job out of college/school?
Waitressing and supervisor in LUSH Cosmetics
Was there a major event in your life when you realised that you wanted to make jewellery?
I spent a few months travelling in South America, I came across a lot of makers at markets and even just by the roadside crafting jewellery from all sorts of things, feathers, dried fish skin, shells, and was totally impressed by their ingenuity to create from whatever they could find and use. A seed was sown and I began to collect trinkets from all around the world along with inspiration…
What was the first piece that you created? How have your designs evolved since then?
My first creation was a geometric ring hand made ring in sterling silver, a round shank inside a square form with drilled holes for pattern and a handmade raised setting with mother of pearl set into it! I am still completely obsessed with geometric forms and clean sharp lines, dots and studs also feature a lot in my work. I still like to create pieces that stand out and create a conversation
Does your local town influence your designs?
I spend a lot of time travelling, in the last year I spent time in many parts of Australia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It is such an integral part of what influences me that for sure the locations I visit feed my work. I have an insatiable craving to discover new places, cultures and people all the time, influence can come from anything in those places, a conversation with a stranger, a beautiful building, a visit to a temple or art gallery….
Can you remember selling the first item that you made? How did you feel?
The first item I sold was a little stone set ring I had made with hammered band and a cabochon, I used a non traditional cut of stone for that style of ring and sold it for basically the same price it cost me to make but I was so unbelievably stoked that anyone wanted to buy something I had made! It sold because I posted it on instagram and lots of people commented wanting to buy it … and that sparked the beginning of what is now FERA!
What stages do you go through to create a new piece? We would love to know your thought process.
I have a sketch book that I take everywhere, I also scribble sketches on bits of paper and take images on my phone constantly of shapes, textures etc that I log on Pinterest. I have a very chaotic mind and with so many different ideas and concepts I then look back through my sketches from time to time and look for patterns that will translate into a cohesive collection. Sometimes I have an idea in my head that I just simply have to make as a one-off, from there I will see if that piece has the potential to develop into a full collection. I make models in wax and also use CAD programs to realize things in 3D before making an initial sample!
Other than your own work, what is your most prized possession and why?
That’s difficult to answer as I have made a big effort recently to let go of attachment to personal possessions as much as possible and live with less. I used to hoard any item with any bit of sentimentality attached to it! However a nomadic lifestyle does not go hand in hand with hoarding! My jewellery collection is the one thing I would be devastated to lose… it’s very eclectic and each piece is attached to a place, a person or a memory. There are also some original old family photographs of my parents and grandparents that I really treasure…
Take us through your "typical" day at the workshop…
I don’t really have a typical day, the way I work is quite chaotic so I will often be doing lots of different tasks at the same time. Not always the best way to work ha! But I like to have a varied day and running the brand gives me the freedom for that. As I currently manage all aspects of the brand I could be doing anything from tool shopping, to writing press releases, sketching, product photography, working on a new shoot concept or social media posts! No one day is the same, which is exactly what I love about my job.
What part of the day do you look forward to?
I used to be a night owl… but in the past few years this totally switched to mornings… I get super excited at the possibilities of the day ahead, I like to train in the mornings which gets me pumped for the day and breakfast is also my favourite meal
If you could see any person in the world wearing your designs, who would it be and why?
Ooooh that’s a tough one, but it would have to be Madonna as she is my original life long icon and the ultimate inspiration for female strength and success.
If you could choose one designer to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
Oh hands down it would be Hannah Martin, who I had the privilege of receiving mentoring from as part of my participation on the Crafts Council Hothouse Programme. She is the epitome of British Design Cool!
What has been the highlight for your brand so far?
…taking part in the Crafts Council Hothouse programme was so much fun and amazing to be surrounded by so many other designers to learn from and exchange ideas and. A really interesting learning experience for me that I was very proud to be accepted for as the Crafts Council are so highly regarded and involved in some fantastic projects in the arts world.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt as an entrepreneur?
That success does not come over night, it takes really, really hard graft! It’s essential to work out what values are really important to you within your business and stay true to them, and organization is key!
What would we find in your bag right now?
Chewing gum, my iphone, my diary, a chocolate wrapper. Haha.
What item can you not live without and why?
My Iphone…. How boring!! But it is essential for managing my business :/
Sum up your personality in 3 words?
Kind, curious, chaotic.
What is your favourite song right now?
It’s an oldie but a goodie that I currently have on repeat…. Spottieottiedopalicious by OutKast
Describe your perfect weekend…
Wake up in a tropical location somewhere next to the ocean… breakfast on the beach, a surf or paddle boarding session with friends followed by chilling with an amazing book and a fresh coconut. Dinner with friends and a party on the beach with amazing house music! The next day more of the same with maybe a boat trip thrown in to find a new island to explore and some jungle trekking or snorkeling!