By Kate Marsden
Another reminder that “a card” is actually any small purchase this week, as we meet jewellery designer Rebecca Handy. Read on as Rebecca talks about the importance of supporting small shops and one another…
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I’m an award winning jewellery designer maker based in the West Midlands and have been creating jewellery for those with a love for the British coast and the countryside for over 8 years. I predominately enjoy working with metals in rustic coppers and bright silvers along with polymer clays and am hugely inspired by nature themed lino prints and my own love of the Cornish coast.
What does a typical day involve?
It varies quite a lot day to day but my general routine starts with the checking of emails and I tend to like to spend a fair amount of my time, more so in the morning, focusing on social media. At the moment I’m working on finalising new collections to be sold in stores and galleries which means I’m mostly honing in on all of my potential designs/ ideas and editing product photography etc. Late afternoons are spent making up orders whether they were received online or via a stockist. In the evenings I’ll revert back to social media and will crack on with any lingering research – I’m always researching something!
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
Up until last year I had an open studio based at a museum which had been my work ‘home’ for 7 years. I took a big step and decided to move into a private studio so I could follow my dream and concentrate on jewellery created specifically for stores and to also sell via my website. My private studio is lovely and bright and peaceful. I am surrounded by shelves that are, to be honest, over flowing with jewellery tools, materials and beads. It’s very much a working space! I like to display my jewellery and so have glass display cabinets full with both jewellery in the planning stages and complete collections. My walls are decorated with favourite lino prints and a rather splendid print from Roald Dahls Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! (I’m hoping to one day find that golden ticket!)
When not at work I enjoy strolls along local canals and the countryside and I love a good potter around nearby riverside towns. An ideal weekend would be spent near the coast, failing that a good amount of rest and relaxation with a decent box set or film is all that I need!
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
I would have to say that the real challenge is being able to have your voice heard and to be found. We are little fish in a pretty big ocean after all and it’s being able to get our stories across that’s the key. If we can do that customers can understand and enjoy our special and creative designs knowing that they just aren’t comparable to items that are mass produced and sold on the high street. I would also say we can be our own challenge, having confidence in your own work can arrive in waves! A designer maker can often be their own biggest critic, sometimes you just have to ride the waves and enjoy it!
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I’m keen to develop my current collections further and possibly venture into the world of miniature 3D art work or even 2D work with the use of metal. I have many, many ideas that are twitching to be made into a reality. In the next few years, ultimately, I wish to continue to find beautiful independent stores to sell my work to in the hope that it will then enable me to be able to employ another ambitious creative.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/ small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
It’s great to keep an eye on other colleagues or competitors, it keeps you in the loop but try not to compare yourself too much as it can only add unwanted and unnecessary pressure. Your designs are unique because they are made by you so the best idea is to focus on that and you’ll find that you’ll be one step closer to achieving your goals. The other tip and it’s a simple one; always be kind! Being kind goes along way, whether it be helping one another when at a craft event, someone needing advice and so on, you never know who you might be talking to and as my Dad likes to say ‘The universe is watching!’
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
There are 3 wonderful stores/ galleries that immediately spring to mind:
The first is a wonderful shop called Thistle and Weeds which I spotted while browsing on Instagram and I’ve been hooked on their posts ever since. It’s a treasure trove of nature-y goodness!
The second is a gallery named The Dotty Dog Gallery (complete with Dalmatian!) You can find an abundance of lino, lithograph and screen prints. Utter heaven for a lino print buff like myself!
The third is a beautiful gallery in Dartmouth; Baxters Gallery. I discovered the gallery a few years back while on holiday and treated myself to some earrings (I like to support other jewellers and designer makers with small purchases) I would call it my dream gallery/ shop!
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Yes, I had realised that it’s for the encouragement of all sales and I think it is such an important message. I am also a social media and marketing assistant for a lovely family run greetings card company Berni Parker Designs. The majority of their stockists are gorgeous independent stores who all need support in this very way. It could be ‘Just A Card’ or something larger, every purchase counts.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
I think Just A Card is a great way of putting a healthy message across. Customers can be and should be encouraged to spend in the right places. I myself have on occasion walked into a fantastic store, unsure what to get, have said to myself ‘I’ll pop back another time’ when a small purchase would have made all the difference. After all we don’t think twice about that chocolate treat we all buy when at the supermarket each week, why not consider buying that pair of earrings or greetings card that caught your eye in that amazing shop you always admire?!
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I caught on to the idea of the campaign quite early on as am an avid Twitter user! I often retweet and share the message on Instagram and have also created my own Facebook posts about the campaign using the poster you can download via the website and of course will continue to share. I encourage people to do the same, share and retweet when you can, it literally takes just the click of a button! The more people that know about Just A Card the better.