Work Matters: Claire Lowe

Tell us about yourself

I’m Claire Lowe a mixed media jewellery designer maker based in Exmouth, Devon. We relocated to Devon from London with our three children just under a year ago and have no regrets, living 10 minutes from the beach and the Exe estuary means we have such beautiful surroundings on our door step, the pace of life is much more suited to us and our family.

I studied for a degree in silversmithing, jewellery and allied crafts and graduated in 2005, the course was fantastic and in a great location at the top of brick lane in London. The course allowed me to experiment with a lot of different materials and processes and this is where I learnt to use resin which is a liquid plastic which sets once mixed.

Tell us about your business – how did it all begin?

After graduating I continued to make jewellery and set up my business progressing my graduate jewellery into a more main stream collection. This range of jewellery was based around tea. I used tea as material and an inspiration, pieces were made with silver and resin and the tea leaves were cast inside the resin with either a clear or white finish. The tea collection is still in production and quite often gets selected for exhibitions with a tea theme.

The business has grown and paused for each baby as they’ve come along but the beauty of making jewellery is I can pick it up and put it down around nap times, school runs and once the children are in bed. During the short pauses of making I really missed the physical process of making, being a maker is a huge part of who I am. During my degree I took a short teaching course to enable me to share my skills and teach others jewellery making. Over the years I have taught a variety of jewellery courses to adults and children.

What do you make and what inspires you?

The process of making inspires new designs and allows me to experiment and create new ideas and pieces, currently I am making a collection which focuses on 3 colours and a specific set of shapes. The mustard collection combines the colour palette of mustard yellow, white and grey resin with silver and oxidised silver. The teardrop shape leads on from the collaborative pieces made between myself and another jeweller. This collection is sold through art gallery shops, independent jewellery galleries/shops and online.

The business continues to grow as my designs develop and go in different directions new and exciting opportunities come my way, It’s really exciting to get a new outlet for my jewellery or to apply for an event and be accepted. Getting an invitation to take part in a specific exhibition is really rewarding too. I really enjoy having a brief to work towards so sometimes it’s good to apply for an exhibition with a theme which will then take my work in a new direction. As the children gown and I have more time to make I hope to take on more opportunities and teach more. Getting away from the studio is always healthy and I try to meet up with other makers and exhibit at crafts fairs so I can interact with the people who buy my jewellery.

In the past I have collaborated with a few other makers. I made a collection of Jewellery with Emma from Olive Rose Jewellery for a collaborative exhibition at Unit Twelve Gallery. Emma is a textiles jeweller so we combined her textiles with silver and resin to make a small collection of pieces. I have also worked with another textiles based maker who used escape and evade maps to make a range of homeware items, I made a collection of jewellery including earrings, cuff links and pendants. I would certainly be happy to work with more makers in the future to form collaborative pieces. I quite often tailor a collection around a stockist if they have a set colour palette in mind or their space would suit a certain collection of my designs.

clairelowejewellery.bigcartel.com

Fashion meets function

Meet Katie Barker, business woman, London resident and mum. After struggling to find teething jewellery that not only soothed her daughter but also looked fashionable – Katie decided to launch East London Baby Co. Born out of a genuine desire to create wearable, functional necklaces and bracelets she also discovered the benefits of working for herself in the process. The digital scene has helped launch her business and she is a great example of what we love at Social Butterflies – an entrepreneurial woman (who happens to be a mother).

East London Baby Co. founder Katie Barker, teething jewellery

Before Katie started her business she worked in digital media/advertising “working closely with clients and agencies to make sure their advertising campaigns reached their target audiences, helped to grow their brand presence and ultimately choose their brand over anyone else’s”. Although she loved her job the hours weren’t compatible with having a baby: “lots of client entertainment in the evenings!”. Working for herself has enabled Katie to achieve flexibility, creativity and autonomy “whilst being able to do something I really believe in. Win win!”.

The light bulb moment happened when her daughter Beatrix “gave me an especially mean pinch whilst breastfeeding”. Katie spent time researching breastfeeding/teething necklaces and couldn’t finding one that fulfilled the dual purpose of “distracting her/being great for teething and was something I really wanted to wear as a piece of jewellery”. Adding a bit of colour to an outfit is something we all desire when we are mostly wearing comfortable clothes. So after “much research, testing and designing” Katie launched the company.

East London Baby Co. teething jewellery
Geometric style bracelets come in a rainbow of colours

The business is going from strength to strength and social media is helping to propel the brand. “Having seen the power of digital and social media in my previous work life, there was no doubt one of the first things I’d be doing would be working on getting a strong social presence – it’s how I find most of the things I buy. I’m a huge advocate for buying from independent businesses and the thriving Instagram business community is testament to the fact that lots of other people do too.”

Katie runs a monthly Instagram hashtag competition to find her favourite photos (#eastlondonbabyco). It a great way to create an online community and get people talking about the brand. “I am a huge believer that word of mouth or influencer marketing are the most powerful ways to grow your brand – when you see someone you admire or trust wearing something it can really influence you”. Seeing the products being used by real people is the best endorsement there is from a retailer’s perspective as it not only provides great publicity but it does so authentically. “I love seeing our wonderful customer pictures and they are one of the most important parts of our Instagram feed – seeing real mothers using our necklaces can help other mothers see how they might wear and use theirs.”

East London Baby Co. teething jewellery
Wearing it with style – happy customers post their photos using the hashtag #eastlondonbabyco

Style that works from ‘playground to pub’

“The necklaces and bracelets are designed to go with just about anything – our mantra from the beginning was ‘Playgroup to Pub’ – so they look as great with a sweatshirt as they do with something dressier. Several of our customers have told me they bought them despite not having teething babies – testament to them being just nice pieces of jewellery too.

I tend to wear mine with a jumper, Topshop jeans and Boob Design breastfeeding vest that’s my mum uniform!”

East London Baby Co. teething jewellery
Style with sweatshirts for a casual look

Katie’s following…

Cult of Youth logo

 

CULT of YOUTH

 

 

“I first encountered Cult of Youth whilst perusing stalls at the Word To The Mother market (a incredible market in East London that runs around holidays – Christmas/Mothers Day etc. launched by two mums to support local businesses) and spotted her incredible jewellery from a mile off. I was with baby and said baby had the mother of all meltdowns so I had to shoot off and have put her jewellery on my birthday list! Strong, inspiring, interesting and did I mention drop-dead gorgeous she’s a must-follow for mumpreneur inspiration.”

Little Flea Kids logo

 

Little Flea Kids

 

 

“Launched by super-mama Anna, Little Flea Kids fills my feed with beautiful photos of the best independent kids’ brands. She has an amazing eye and produces a GORGEOUS magazine several times a year that is always full of inspiration. She does a free online copy too – perfect for when the inbox gets a little much and you need a cup of tea and a break.”

Mother of Daughters Clemmie Hooper

 

Mother of Daughters

 

 

“With a huge following and a penchant for small, independent brands, this mama does it all and is a massive inspiration for me. A midwife, author and mother-of-four – I don’t know how she does it! Her Instagram is super interesting, funny and very very real. I get loads of inspiration for clothes for me and things for baby and lots of laughs from her live feed.”

Katie’s work…

East London Baby Co logo

East London Baby Co. designs and creates beautiful teething/feeding jewellery in on-trend colour combinations. The necklaces are safe for babies to chew, fiddle with and they help mamas accessorise and look great too. Designed specifically to draw the eye, the double-strand and different-sized/shaped beads give lots of interest for baby – and all colour-ways are tried, tested and baby-approved! Created to look like gorgeous double-stranded jewellery, they’ll easily take you from playgroup to pub! They come in a beautiful range of colours to suit everybody – the perfect present for yourself or a friend.”

eastlondonbabyco.co.uk

instagram.com/eastlondonbabyco

facebook.com/eastlondonbabyco


Interview with Amy White