09 Apr Meet The Maker III: Smoke and Ash - Handmade Jewellery With A Nautical Twist
At Wearth we love being able to work with UK makers and in this blog series we talk with the people behind these small independent companies. Here we have a sit down (virtually) with Sarah who last year made the leap of faith and started her jewellery business, Smoke and Ash. Sarah has now ditched the 9-5 and is working full time on her handmade ethical jewellery line, here she talks about her journey and the importance of the environment with her work.
What made you decide to start your own jewellery business?
I’d always been interested in running my own business and have always had loads of different business ideas, however there was nothing that I found that I truly loved. It wasn’t until I took a short beginners course “An introduction to Jewellery Making” at City Lit in London over a weekend that I started to think that I’d found something that I could really pursue. I began practising what I had learned over that weekend using my Grandads old tools, he used to make jewellery as a hobby along side running a successful sailing business, and passed his tools on to me after I had told him about how much I enjoyed the course. Before long my friends started asking to buy some of my rings that I had made for myself, that was probably the moment that I decided to make a business of it.
What is the process behind designing your jewellery and what inspires your designs?
A lot of my inspiration comes from nature, especially the marine environment. Growing up on a river I have always been actively involved in sailing, going on to work on Super Yachts after leaving school and getting to sail across the Atlantic, around the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Having that opportunity and being able to pursue hobbies like scuba diving around the world deepened my love for the marine environment. I’m happiest when on the water and wanted my jewellery to reflect that.
Simple Textured Oval Ring
We love the name of your brand, how did you come up with it?
It took me a long time to find a name that I really loved, I toyed with using my name, but it always felt corny, or unoriginal. Then I looked at using different words that represented rivers and ocean, however it was very hard to find a word that wouldn’t restrict my business and also one that hadn’t already been used. I was brain storming lots of ideas when I came up with "Smoke and Ash” which comes from the name of my Dog “Smoke” and the name of our future dog “Ash”, I settled on this name as it meant something to me, it wasn’t restrictive and I felt that it had a ring to it that’s memorable.
A lot of your jewellery is made from recycled silver, why did you decide to work with this material and in general what importance do you place on being environmentally and ethically conscious?
I’ve always been environmentally aware, but it wasn’t until crossing the Atlantic and getting closer to the coast of Gibraltar that I witnessed the full extent of human pollution and devastating effects it has on the marine environment. From then I felt responsible for reducing my personal impact on the natural world. We live in such a throw away culture now from food to fashion where we buy for convenience and without thought, and when starting my business I didn’t want to contribute to that culture. Using recycled silver reduces waste in the jewellery industry and I think also promotes a more sustainable lifestyle across the board. Since having to think about the products I use and whether they are ethically sustainable in business its also got me thinking a lot more about the products I use in day to day life. We certainly cannot continue to have this “single use” mentality as programs like “Blue Planet” highlighted last year.
Rope Charm Bracelet
Do you have any advice for someone looking to start their own craft business?
GO FOR IT! It’s tough and it’s scary but it's beyond worth it. I’ve recently given up my day job to focus solely on Smoke and Ash and it was terrifying giving up a steady salary, but being responsible for my own income and time is so much more exciting and fulfilling than commuting to London every day.
I think if there’s something you cannot get out of your head, then you need to go for it, otherwise you’ll end up regretting it.
You recently released a lovely new collection of jewellery, what are your plans for the next 6 months?
I’m busy working on a few other new pieces, I’m hoping to release those within the next few weeks which I’m excited about. I also have a lot of markets coming up over the next few months all around Essex and near to London. My next one will be on the 15th of April Burnham Farmers Market which is just up the road from me and champions local artisans and crafters and then I will be at Marks Tey craft fair on the 22nd of April.
What is the one piece of jewellery that you wear most day to day?
I wear my Whale Tail necklace near enough every day along with my Hammered Disc Studs, Karma ring and Russian Love Knot ring. I love the simplicity of them, but they still add a touch of glamour to any outfit.
Whale Tail Necklace
You can check out Sarah’s beautiful collection of eco-friendly and ethical jewellery here.