I noticed Rachel Lucie in a magazine and got in touch to see if she’d like to be challenged to make some handmade jewellery from some of our beads. I also wanted to find out all about her successful jewellery making career, her blog and website.
Here’s what Rachel chose to make her design:
We’ll show you what she made at the end of this post.
Read on to find out all about Rachel Lucie Jewellery Designs:
When and how did you start making jewellery?
I first started to make jewellery in 2008, whilst a stay at home mum with 2 under 5′s. The idea came to me that I could make my own jewellery by combining some of my favourite materials, namely; beads, semi-precious stones and sterling silver. The idea literally came out of nowhere one day when I went to spend some birthday money on some handmade jewellery, and really couldn’t find anything that was really ‘me’. Within a couple of weeks I not only loved making designs for myself, but I had so many ideas to make more and more things I couldn’t keep up! I got lots of fantastic feedback from friends, and commissions started rolling in. I quickly started to believe that maybe this could be a business for me.
Did you have any formal training?
At that stage and until recently I had no formal training at all. I spoke to a friend who had been on a course, who suggested I started with glass beads and base metal wire whilst I was finding my feet, but I have to say I completely ignored her and bought myself silver findings and wire straight off. It was a gamble, but luckily I found manipulating wire really easy, and could quickly produce neat wire work for my designs.
I have recently been having silver smithing lessons with a local jewellery maker, and will be integrating more of this into my designs as soon as my bigger work space is ready. I currently work from home in a tiny room, with no space for more tools and a proper jewellery bench. Watch this space!
What is your favourite thing to make?
Truthfully, it would always be my newest design, I think a lot of designers are like that! For sheer opulence I would pick my ‘Leading Lady’ earrings, this is a really striking design that has sold well and has become a signature one for me. I also love making charm bracelets, such as ‘Fruits of the Forest’ where I can combine different colours and shapes of gemstones to great effect.
How would you define your jewellery making style?
Clean, elegant and feminine. I always strive to make designs about the colours and shapes of the gemstones, and don’t clutter things up too much with ornate findings. I really try to work with contrasts, and the different greens of the ‘Walk in the Woods’ bracelet is a great example of that.
What is the highlight of your jewellery making career so far?
My biggest highlight so far has been having my jewellery featured a couple of times in Vogue and Tatler magazines, it’s so exciting seeing my work on the page with other fantastic designers, a real thrill.
I am also very excited about being selected to show at the Country Living Fair in Harrogate this winter (29th November to 2nd December). It’s a massive retail event, with great potential to reach many new customers.
What inspired you to start up your blog and online shop?
I started selling online through Etsy pretty quickly after setting up my business. I always envisaged that as the main care-giver at home, I had to fit my business around the kids and have gradually built things up as they started school. Online selling is perfect, providing your customers can find you, as you can be flexible and work whatever hours suit you.
I then expanded to sell through Not On The Highstreet, which has been very successful for me, as well as other online stockists.
Blogging started as a way of promoting my designs, but I quickly found that I wanted to share other things too, such as my new found love of photography, and other inspiration.
How has your website grown and developed?
I only plucked up courage to start my own website in 2010, and am now really happy with it. Sales are increasing, and many people place bigger orders with me directly than through other online outlets, which can only be a good thing.
I started initially with an ‘off the shelf’ website package, which was hard to use, and hard for people to find me. When I switched to an ecommerce hosted website, that’s when things really took off for me. Along the way I have taught myself bits and pieces of basic coding, so have changed the look to suit my style. My initial business idea has opened up all kinds of other areas of design that weren’t immediately apparent such as the branding and look of my website.
What do you look for in a bead?
I am always looking for new shapes and cuts of gemstone beads. I love to combine them with pearls, too, which with all the beautiful dyed varieties around now, can really set off a design and add a new dimension. A strand of beads needs to be of a good regular quality to enable me to reproduce the design I have photographed on my website, as it’s very important that people are getting what they see. I also like to use reliable suppliers who will still have the same size/shape available a few months later so that I can restock popular pieces.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find it everywhere, to be honest! I love colours, and all kinds of design, so everything from a floral print, to the new season’s colours to the colour of some product packaging can start me thinking.
I always seem to come back to the things that I have loved since a child, such as flowers, botanical prints, Pre Raphaelite paintings, Art Deco design and certain colour combinations. You will always find them somewhere on my website!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to set up a jewellery blog or website?
I’d say try it! Get lots of feedback from friends and relatives about what you are making, learn how to photograph them effectively, which is as important as the piece itself when you sell online. If you are blogging, a great place to start is from what inspires you, as this is bound to inspire others, too.
Do work thinking about who your customer is and what they want from you. Find out if you can make a profit doing what you love as a hobby, as this is where a real business will start.
Above all, have fun, and give it a go!
Thanks Rachel, I really enjoyed catching up with you. As promised, here’s what Rachel made with her Beads Direct bead selection:beading expert, handmade jewellery, Rachel Lucie Jewellery, selling handmade jewellery