Claire Lowe Jewellery
By Kate Marsden
We’re off to Devon this week, and I’m having to resist the urge to buy EVERYTHING Claire Lowe makes! I’ve been admiring her beautiful silver and resin jewellery from a distance for far too long…
Time management is key as Claire juggles her business with three small children (and the call of the local beach!). Read on to find out about her business and why the Just A Card campaign means so much.
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I’m Claire Lowe a contemporary jewellery designer maker. I make jewellery using silver and resin which is a type of plastic. My current collection combines, yellow, grey and white resin with silver/oxidised silver and teardrop shapes. I enjoy using a variety of mixed media materials alongside silver. Previous collections have included wool, fabric and tea leaves. I live in Exmouth, Devon with my husband and three children.
What does a typical day involve?
Every day I check emails and fulfil orders which include direct online orders from Etsy, Bigcartel, madebyhandonline and notonthehighstreet. I have several wholesale galleries and shops which creates quite a bit of paperwork. Two days a week I have childcare for my youngest child and this is when I make most of the jewellery. I mange to squeeze a lot of making into just 12 hours a week. I do all my admin whilst the children sleep, and I write a lot of lists!
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I work from my studio at the bottom of our courtyard garden, it’s a brick built garage in need of some tlc, which we are doing gradually. We bought the house a year ago and it’s a full on project which is really exciting. The main part of the studio is my jeweller’s bench which is where I sit and make. Sawing, shaping, soldering, and filing. This is where my ideas come to life and the ideas flow and get realised. When I’m not working, I really enjoy exploring our surroundings, we are fairly new to Devon and there are so many beautiful places to visit. We are very lucky to live a short walk from the beach and the Estuary so there’s plenty of places to get fresh air and think.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
I think a lot of designer makers are struggling to continue in their practice, whether that be financially or emotionally. Being a maker is all consuming, everything you design or make is a part of you and if it isn’t well received or it doesn’t sell well it’s very personal. On the other side of this is the fact that most makers need to create, it’s a huge part of who they are, I know I would struggle to leave jewellery making behind for another career. Most makers rely on shops and galleries to place orders or for sale or return. Many galleries and small shops are struggling and this in turn is affecting makers.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
As the children grow, I’d like to take part in more craft events outside of Devon, I really enjoy traveling to shows and meeting new makers and customers. There are quite a few events in Europe and America I’m interested in applying for in the future.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/ small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Someone said to me when I graduated “don’t stop making, apply for everything and keep moving forward”. I took this advice and still fall back on it today. Sometimes there are quieter spells with few opportunities, but you can create your own, collaborate with another maker, set yourself a monthly challenge, teach yourself a new skill. By sharing these on social media not only are you creating content you are showing diversity in your work and skills.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
There are so many it’s hard to pick favourites, I am very lucky to have had the support of so many galleries since starting my business. Here are a few who have shown my jewellery from the beginning.
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, the card is one example, for me it’s a pair of earrings, for some it’s a print, a cushion, a pot. Supporting small creative businesses doesn’t even need to be about spending money, a like, comment or share on social media makes a big difference too. Making sure you review a handmade purchase on Etsy, or their Facebook page also really helps give creative business a boost.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
Just A Card is huge, wearing the badge has opened up many conversations with people who had no idea how important those little purchases are. Whilst at craft fairs and shows I display the poster and people do stop and read about the campaign. I’m an advocate for supporting the high street too, we have a great town with a good variety of independents and I’m forever encouraging friends and family to use these shops or they will lose them.
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 think I originally heard about Just A Card on Twitter through Sarah the founder, as I’ve followed her for a long time. I still use Twitter but not as often as I used to, Facebook is ok but not great for interaction. I really enjoy Instagram, I follow a large selection of makers and really enjoy the visual feed. I love to get involved with a campaign, like Just A Card Week and Meet the Maker set up by Joanne Hawker. I get better engagement on Instagram and genuinely look forward to sharing new pieces/designs on there to see the response.