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“What day is it? What year is it? What’s going on?” We feel you. As everyday in quarantine begins to blend into the one that came before, sticking to a routine has never felt so important. Luckily, we’re back with another interview to keep your Friday feeling like a Friday.
This week, we had the pleasure of catching-up with the founder of Natalie Perry Jewellery. Natalie Perry Jewellery is a sustainable, everyday luxury jewellery brand inspired by Natalie's travel stories and adventures.
In our chat, Natalie opens up to us about how she got started in jewellery, how the COVID- 19 pandemic has affected her business and where she finds her inspiration. So grab a drink and nestle in for this week’s convo...
Welcome Natalie! Could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?
My mum has always been a very creative person and a talented craftswoman; so I think I got my creativity from her. We always did little creative projects and made things with our hands which has stayed with me and become integral to my life as an adult. When I was at school studying for my art textiles GCSE, I began to notice that every project ended up with me creating some sort of jewellery for my Final Piece. It was this that first got me thinking that jewellery design might be the career for me!
That is so cool! So, how did you go about pursuing a career in the jewellery industry?
I studied Jewellery & Accessories at university, which was my first step into the jewellery industry. I also took on several internships in order to develop my skills and business knowledge. This included working for leading British designer Alice Cicolini, whose work and brand story still inspires me today.
It’s really important to have idols when you’re starting out in any industry, I think. When did you decide to start up Natalie Perry Jewellery and why?
I always knew I wanted to have my own jewellery business, but after university I fell into working in PR as, at the time, I had no idea how to start a business! After several years in PR, I decided to take the leap and leave my job in order to travel and spend time designing my debut collection.
"From the very beginning it was important to me that my business operated in the most sustainable and ethical way possible, so my debut collection launched in certified Fairtrade Gold. "
Wow! Talk about a leap into the unknown…What strategies do you think have been key to the success of Natalie Perry Jewellery?
From the very beginning it was important to me that my business operated in the most sustainable and ethical way possible, so my debut collection launched in certified Fairtrade Gold. It is ethically-sourced from the Sotrami mine in Peru and supports the artisanal mining communities there. My pieces are all made in London and my customers now come to me because they can be certain that their jewellery is made sustainably.
That’s brilliant! What were your biggest challenges in starting up a jewellery business?
Where do I start?! I’ve overcome so many challenges; from finding the right people to supply my materials to prototyping pieces and choosing the right places to sell my work. I’ve grown as a person and a brand through making lots of mistakes and learning from them.
I can only imagine! And what would you say is your favourite thing about having started Natalie Perry Jewellery?
My favourite part is getting to be creative everyday. I enjoy being able to use my creativity on my own terms and make decisions about the experimentations I do and which of these I will take forward into final stages. When I’m in the workshop I learn so much about making things with my hands and challenge my skills everyday.
I love that! As someone who has to deal with sensitive skin, it affects everything I buy from jewellery to skincare products. In what ways do you consider sensitive skin throughout the process of selecting the materials to use?
I take every care to ensure the materials used in my jewellery are high quality and suitable to be worn against the skin. This means I avoid materials like nickel, which can irritate the skin and are commonly found in vintage and antique jewellery.
I’m actually allergic to nickel, so that’s great news! Why do you think people are more conscious of the materials in their jewellery nowadays?
I think there has been a real shift towards sustainability in the last few years, not just within the fashion industry. I found out about Fairtrade Gold in 2015 and have been using it within my collections since starting my business in 2017. I have proudly championed sustainable materials since then. For my customers who are concerned about the environmental impact of mining, I also use recycled gold and silver that is already in existence. That way, I can be sure that my jewellery production doesn’t contribute to the negative environmental impact of the mining process.
Clearly sustainability is really important to your business then...
Sustainability has always been important to me and I wanted to ensure that I was supporting the people who mine my gold. I use responsibly sourced gemstones and diamonds made in London at my studio. Each piece is packaged in FSC certified recyclable packaging.
That is really inspiring. Ok, so what is your absolute favourite piece that you have ever created?
It has to be the Lace Mandala Hoops which were inspired by the jali patterned windows and faded paintings from ancient Indian palaces. They’re super light and airy, but make a statement when worn. They were the first piece I created when I started my brand and informed the rest of my Floral Fragments collection.
They’re gorgeous! What makes Natalie Perry jewellery stand out?
Each piece of Natalie Perry jewellery is created from unique travel stories and adventures, so I think these stories stay with the wearer. The design aesthetic itself celebrates imperfection and you can see the marks of the maker’s hand in each piece, giving each jewel its own personality. I think our emphasis on sustainability stands out too.
Definitely! What’s been your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
I think it was being named Young Designer of the Year 2018 at the Professional Jeweller Awards. There were some amazing designers in my category, so I didn’t expect it at all!
"I’m using this time to get back to the core of my creativity and revisit some jewellery projects I left unfinished or need to develop further."
What a fantastic achievement! You mentioned the jewellery is inspired by travel stories and adventures. Could you talk a bit more about this?
Travel is my biggest source of inspiration and I always return to London feeling excited to create new pieces based on the stories I’ve collected whilst being away. My time spent working as a jewellery designer in India has formed the basis of everything I've created so far. I am itching to go back as soon as it is safe to travel again.
Could you describe your average work day?
It’s extremely varied but I spend most of my time in the workshop as my best ideas come when I’m at the jeweller’s bench. When I’m not making jewellery, I can be in meetings with my stockists, designing bespoke pieces for clients or sourcing gemstones and diamonds to include in new pieces. Of course there are plenty of boring jobs to do too, from finance to admin tasks. I wear many hats as a business owner.
I bet! Do you think you have a work/life balance?
Definitely not! It was my new year's resolution to try and take some time-out for myself, so this is something I am actively working on. The great thing is I love my job, so I actually enjoy working a lot.
Me too! Right, so what words do you live by?
“Don’t compare yourself to others. We need our own time to travel our own distance.” I think it’s a really good reminder to stay in your own lane; things can get overwhelming in this often over-saturated world.
I absolutely agree. What’s next for Natalie Perry Jewellery?
Over the past few weeks things have massively changed for Natalie Perry Jewellery due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The UK jewellery industry has had to shut down for the safety of everyone in the community. I’m using this time to get back to the core of my creativity and revisit some jewellery projects I left unfinished or need to develop further. I’m also currently developing a sustainable bridal collection which will launch when life starts to return to normal.
Like what you read? Head to Natalie Perry jewellery or Farfetch to shop her collections. Alternatively if you fancy checking out some of our previous articles you can find them here. All images are via Natalie Perry Jewellery.
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