How Do You Make It As An Independent Jewellery Designer?
Posted on 15 October 2017
Since launching The Pommier we've been lucky enough to meet some incredibly creative and business-savvy people who have succeeded in turning their dreams into reality. Launching your own brand can be tough and daunting. When it's your business, the work never stops. But with the internet opening up a world of possibilities, more people are taking the plunge than ever before.
So this got us thinking, what does it take to make it as an independent jewellery designer? To help us answer this question, we've enlisted the help of two of our favourite successful jewellery designers who've built their brands from the ground up.
Justine Clenquet founded her eponymous jewellery brand in 2010. Clenquet explores her much-loved punk aesthetic to create classic pieces of contemporary jewellery. The brand is currently sold in more than 80 stores all over the world, such as Opening Ceremony USA and Japan, Homecomingintl, Raremarket and more. Her designs have even been seen on Lady Gaga.
Francesca Kippax founded contemporary jewellery brand ANUKA in 2014. ANUKA is defined by strong, striking shapes and clean lines, creating versatile and sophisticated pieces. As one of the names to watch in the world of contemporary jewellery, Francesca's pieces are sold worldwide.
Discover Justine and Francesca's top tips on how to make it as an independent jewellery designer.
Justine Clenquet Jewellery
HAVE A CLEAR VISION
Francesca Kippax: “I wanted to create a brand that designed and made jewellery to last. By that I mean designs that are timeless, that don’t follow trends but sit seamlessly with any outfit. Jewellery you would want to wear day and night. Simple, beautiful pieces with a contemporary edge that you would want to pass on in years to come.”
Justine Clenquet: “Don’t rush - take the time to think. Make sure there’s something specific or special that makes you unique on the market. Prioritise quality over anything else - even if you have the best ideas, the best communication and marketing team, if your product is bad quality nobody will buy it.”
LEARN YOUR CRAFT
Francesca Kippax: “I completed my degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing at the prestigious School of Jewellery, Birmingham. Following on from that I was fortunate to be accepted on an incubation scheme run by Birmingham City council called ‘Design Space.’ it was a programme that offered a shared workshop in the Jewellery Quarter along with business training, mentoring and lectures from industry experts.”
Justine Clenquet: “I studied fashion design at ESAA Dupérré in Paris and did a few internships in jewellery brands. I always loved manual work and did a lot of research prior to founding my brand, to make sure I was inform enough to get into fashion jewellery business. But you can’t succeed all by yourself, you need other people with experience and who you can trust help you sometimes, guide and advise you.”
Inside Francesca Kippax's studio
Francesca Kippax: “It truly is a minefield out there, and so hard to know who to trust and invest your money in. Especially as a small business that one error of judgement can be very costly to you. I have been stung in the past, there are some companies that will promise the world, talk the talk and then not deliver! That happened to me. My advice, be smart! Look at who these companies are working with, talk with them and ask their opinion. But most importantly follow your instincts, you know if something doesn’t feel right”
Justine Clenquet: “When you started a business, you really have a restrict your expenditures to the most important. Invest in your product before invest in communication. Make sure the quality is high, the pictures of your products are appealing and they match your aesthetics. You have to build the foundations and make sure the basics are there.”
EXPAND YOUR NETWORK
Francesca Kippax: “Push yourself to do things out of your comfort zone. You will feel so much better after, and chances are you would have learnt something in doing it. Networking is necessary and you might even find you enjoy it! Build your contacts and be open to opportunities put your way.”
Justine Clenquet: "It’s really important to develop a contact network. Joining a label is also a great solution when you start your business. I joined the French label Maison de Mode in 2012, and it helped me so much. You can be part of a group of young designers, gain access to business knowledge or have financial support when you want to present your work at tradeshows. It’s really important to not do everything by yourself, you should always be surrounding by good professionals and friends to support you."
Francesca Kippax: “I’ve learnt it’s important to stay true to yourself and push your designs. Question yourself: What if I did this? What if I used this? Embrace new techniques that can aid your design process and always work to a design brief to help you focus.”
Justine Clenquet: “Love what you’re doing because you’re going to spend hours and hours working on your business. Constantly study the market and focus on your target and potential consumers.”
Justine Clenquet Jewellery
LOOK TO THE FUTURE
Francesca Kippax: “I think people are becoming a lot more conscious of what they are buying and who they are buying from. This is leading to a rise in ethical and sustainable brands like ANUKA, hopefully this continues and becomes the norm in years to come.”
Justine Clenquet: “Listen to trends, to the market and to the consumers. In my opinion, the future of jewellery design is very bright, as the distance between fashion and jewellery becomes smaller. Moving forward I think more and more consumers will purchase jewellery as a lifestyle purpose.”
Did you find Francesca and Justine's advice on how to make it as an independent jewellery designer useful? Let us know in the comments or share on Twitter and Facebook!