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Friday, 03 July 2015

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A FULL-TIME mum from Distington, who was made redundant, has set up her own jewellery-making business.

Emma Slater, 30, of Distington, went into business making jewellery after being inspired by a friend who also launched her own jewellery venture.

A trained architect, Emma – who is originally from Whitehaven – moved back to the area at the beginning of the year soon before she was made redundant from her job in Hereford.

After hearing the news she decided to stay here and try something new altogether.

She said: “I stayed down south after graduating from university in London and worked for a few years as an architect. But I knew I had to try something new after I found out I was made redundant.

“I decided to retrain in jewellery after my friend Clare from down south set up her own business – she really inspired me and I knew it would be something unique to West Cumbria.

“My training took place in London and I would spend often a week at a time learning new jewellery making techniques such as working with silver or learning more about precious gems.

“Although I am an architect by trade, I took A levels in art and sciences, so making jewellery came as a natural interest for me. I had all the maths and science capabilities there as well as the artistic abilities. But this venture is something that will see me continually updating my skills and developing new ones as I make and sell more products. I have my eye on a new beading course down there that will run in the evening.”

Emma, who has a four-year-old daughter, used her own finances to set up her business run from her Main Street, home.

Her new venture, she said fits perfectly around being a mum and can be run in her own time in between taking her daughter to school or even in the evenings.

Emma’s techniques allow her to produce one-of-a-kind pieces for customers. Her range of print jewellery is proving to be an extremely popular choice with jewellery lovers around the area.

Using clay casts of fingerprints, she transfers the print onto any piece of jewellery or accessory, from earrings, charms, necklaces, cufflinks and even keyrings. I order a moulding compound from Japan which is a precious metal clay with both silver and clay parts, it looks very much like Plasticine,” she said. “I then either post this to customers or take it to them myself so they can mould their fingerprint. The mould eventually sets, I shape it and when it is heated the clay melts away to leave the silver or the copper – which I also work with.

“I can do pretty much whatever the customer wants and I have produced pieces with several finger prints on such as prints from someone’s children.

“I love getting to be inventive with the pieces and I often find the more obscure the request the better.

“Women tend to buy my jewellery more than men so the run up to Father’s Day and Christmas is pretty busy for me. I also do a lot of special occasion presents - a recent one was a 50th birthday present for a man off his family and they ordered a keyring with their prints on for him.”

Along with her prints range, Emma has launched a new range of jewellery called the Emma May collection which includes nautical-themed pieces and jewellery designed to capture Emma’s love of winged creatures from swallows to dragonflies.

The range, named after herself and her daughter May, was the first range she created after being inspired by the costal surroundings of West Cumbria.

She said: “With the huge success of the Maritime and Whitehaven Festivals, I used this as both inspiration for the range but also as a unique selling aspect to encourage local customers to buy the jewellery.

“The range is created using elements from existing jewellery and vintage stores but a lot of my time goes on sourcing the best suppliers and items to make beautiful jewellery.

“Some of the items are ordered from abroad – especially the range of vintage gem jewellery – which comes from as far as Australia and America.

“I’m really excited about my newest collection, though – it’s flower jewellery and accessories, such as hair clips and brooches. I’m just starting to work on those now.”

Now that her business is online, Emma is making pieces for customers as far as Manchester and Bolton – but hopes to be selling products via her website by January next year.

Emma also has plans to have her own stall at the Rheged Christmas Festival on December 12, this year where she will launch her range to the general public.

Although, she is still doing some architecture work on a freelance basis, Emma said her passion is now focussed on developing her business.

“I have had some fantastic feedback from customers,” she said. “The work is very heartening and responsive, but the jewellery I design and make is very personal to people and as a result of that it is a lasting momento for them.

“The ranges are all reasonably priced and many of them are original one off’s unlike if you bought some jewellery from a store like Topshop.

“This has to be one of the best jobs in the world - my skills are transferable, it’s very gratifying and at the end of the day it’s so nice to have a job that doesn’t feel like a job.”

For more information on Emma’s creations visit: www.print-jewellery.co.uk


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