Sarah is one of our four Shell LiveWIRE 'Grand Ideas' Awards in April 2009, A graduate of Loughborough University in England
Sarah creates sculptured art jewellery made in paper, Her Designs are produced by hand in the Jewellery Quarter, are targeted at a discerning clientele. Pieces are made for statement, envy and indulgence, offering its consumer alluring items, made to treasure.
How you doing Sarah? Thank you for your time.
Hey…I’m well thanks…if a little full of cold from working too hard …it's worth it though!
So, what inspired you to start a business?
Being a pretty independent person with high aspirations always gave me hunger to strive for something more. At University I didn’t ever think I wanted to start my own business but when I got out into the big wide world and worked so hard for so many other people, I realised that running my own business would be the only way to challenge myself in the millions of ways I do, every day…all in one job! It’s good to be in control of your destiny I think and hey the hope is that all the hard work some day will pay off…even if it is a few years down the line!
How long does it take you to make a design?
That’s a difficult one…because I feel like I’ve been contemplating my designs for years!! But if we’re talking the physical making of the design I guess a couple of hours per piece…dependent on its complexity. For me, it’s a practical process and none of which I can really envisage in my head miraculously into some 3d cad model, until I’ve made it in my hands, it simply doesn’t exist. So once I have the paper and scissors version, I lay out the 2D design on computer, laser cut it, then painstakingly rivet individual units together to create the piece. Many of the larger pieces incorporate several hundred rivets, so this is the longest part of the process and then comes the icing on the cake, is to add the finishing touches in ribbon or silver.
Who are your target markets?
Saloukee’s design led fashion jewellery is targeted at women, from a broad age. It’s more mature target market is for those who love self-indulgent ‘treats’. For those who like to wear jewellery for statement and to create a talking point and for those who have an appreciation and desire for ‘all things beautiful’.
Saloukee’s younger target market are frequent shoppers and most likely to be fashion-orientated, looking for innovation and the latest styles. These consumers are likely to be influenced by media, celebrity, red carpet glamour and youth culture trends. The gift giving market is also great for Saloukee, as the buyer is sure to be giving something handmade, unique and thoughtful to their loved one.
In the future Saloukee’s intentions are to target the Bespoke Wedding Market, as part of their wedding day outfit and the Eco market. As well as a scope to tap into the 1st year anniversary market - which is represented by paper.
Who is your role model/influence?
It might be cliché…but it has to be my parents…none of this would be possible without their support and understanding through my set up. As I grew up, I realised what conscientiousness was from my Dad and what strength was from my Mum. They never fail to amaze me with their words of wisdom and depth of perceptiveness, even though neither of them have ever run their own business. I simply don’t know what I would do without them some days…but one day I hope to show my appreciation somehow!
What are your advertising strategies?
As yet I have not paid for one bit of advertising during my set up. It’s all about networking at any occasion…whether it be social networking online or face to face chat with people you meet. Entering competitions and linking myself up to design sites online has also allowed me to raise my profile in the industry and on the web.
Blogging has allowed my work to be noticed world wide, yet it still feels pretty crazy to me that people can write about my work having never met me or seen it in the flesh! I had a new online boutique from Australia contact me last week wanting to stock my product after seeing images. I also had Stylists for Vera Wang and the LA Times contact me from New York a couple of months back…all because they’d seen my work on a blog! Don’t underestimate how important your web presence is!
What’s the most unique thing about your product, what will make me buy your designs?
I hope it’s the construction my design…everyone always asks how quite I came up with it and everyone says they’ve not quite seen anything like it…which is obviously what a designer wants to hear! I always want to create something unique and I always hope to be able to use new technologies, along with my unusual material choice allows me to push design boundaries and offer my customers continually exciting products! I hope my products are bought due to an appreciation, an understanding and a need for down right indulgence
How did winning the award help you in your business?
Winning the award enabled me to pay for a stand at Origin Craft Fair at Somerset House, London just last week. It’s a well established, prestigious event to anyone within my field and I was lucky enough to be selected to participate. Not only did I generate a healthy amount of sales but the contacts I made at the event were priceless. Not only has it has allowed me increase the exposure of my product but also to increase awareness of myself as a designer and business person. I hope that long term, this event will have a knock on effect to the stability of my business and enable the generation of further opportunities.
Do you have any suggestions for coping with set-backs, negative experiences?
I think you simply have to stay determined! Many of the days in my month are tough but I find there’s always enough days which make it feel worthwhile. You have to hold on to the positive feedback and accomplishments you are able to achieve and let go of the set backs because they are simply part of your learning to be a better person, on a personal level and in business. For me, always having something further to strive towards helps me to focus to the future and not get stuck in a rut of the past or of something that is not achievable at the time. I also find that looking back at my blog (my form of diary), allows me to see the achievements that I’ve had along the way and that even when things seem like that haven’t moved…they usually aren’t really that bad!!
Who are your favourite young entrepreneurs at this moment?
Anthony Roussel – jewellery designer who has established himself firmly in amongst the design industry, won many awards, shown at exhibitions and galleries worldwide and marketed himself tremendously in a very short space of time.
Hannah Marshall- fashion designer whose sharp tailored designs are to die for! Not only has she been applauded for her great design in Vogue (my ultimate dream press) but her business savvy is well up there with the best of them too!
What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Be flexible, take every opportunity that comes your way, don’t be knocked by those that don’t believe in what you do or simply don’t get ‘it’- there’s enough people out there that will, learn to take criticism and not be offended, learn to laugh when you want to cry, surround yourself with positive people, take time for yourself, be passionate and open to new inspiration, love your friends and family more than ever…they will be the ones to help you through when times are tough. Be stubborn, vigilant and confident in your product and quite simply don’t ever give up…it will happen if you’re determined enough
What’s next for you and your business?
Well I’m currently frantically making for my next Art Jewellery Show in Amsterdam which starts on the 5th Nov. It’s the first show I will have done in Europe so I’m really excited…though it’s a challenge in itself trying to work out how I can get clothes for a week, all my products and display material all into one suitcase!! I’d really like to be able to gain contacts to get my work represented in a couple of galleries in the Netherlands, as they have great style and contemporary taste in design
I also hope the next couple of months bring opportunities to extend my portfolio in other ways. I’m hoping to take on a workshop or two, perhaps become a visiting artist in schools and maybe even see if I can pull off some lecturing! The show that I just did in London allowed me to see that there are people out there needing these skills…and it would be great if in 6 months time, I was the perfect person for the job. It’s strange…the experience that made my show in London really worthwhile (and gave me goose bumps), was having a group of students tell me that of all the work in the catalogue of 300 designers, mine was their favourite! I went pink when they stood studiously at my stand taking notes on my work…but that’s the vision that I’ll hold on to the next few months
Thank you for your time.