Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Skills That Pay the Bills, Jewellery Style...

I came across Stephanie Hamer’s contemporary jewellery at a networking lunch in February when I was sat across from a lady wearing an intricate yet solid statement necklace. Turns out it was Stephanie’s Mum, Patricia. The geometric shapes of the necklace had a real fluidity about them which fascinated me, so I badgered her for an interview. One Tuesday morning in late Feb I climbed the stairs to her studio flat and over a brew (are you seeing the pattern with all my interviewees? A brew is non-negotiable) she told me about her burgeoning jewellery business.
Originally an aficionado of Myspace (I checked, it does still exist!) Stephanie was using Fimo to create from a young age but began her career in earnest selling jewellery made of shrinking plastic to friends when she was 17 and contemplating Maths A-Level. She soon dropped that, choosing Computing, Graphic Design, 3D Design and Physics instead. Her academic history has taken her to Oldham, Sheffield and finally to Manchester on a two year FdA Jewellery & Applied Arts course at Manchester Metropolitan University,
 “It’s funny how you can take one road and it still leads you back to where you originally left off – the Computing and Graphic Design A-levels have really influenced my most recent work.”
Her most recent collection was born out of her final project at university for which she received a distinction. The necklace I saw at the networking event was an example of this work: laser cut jewellery which is striking, modern and fun.  With individual commissions aplenty and exhibits in art galleries you would be forgiven for thinking Stephanie is a very talented one-trick pony - not so. She has a quiet passion for her work that has manifest itself in not one but two businesses: she has her own eBay shop and has had since 2006, where she sells laser cut jewellery with more of a pop culture feel.
Her 6 years of online trading demonstrate her ability to move with the times and adapt accordingly. With Sunday Girl Accessories she not only has to be trend aware, but hyper aware of what her customers (mostly teenagers) want hanging off their necks: Harry Potter and One Direction symbols, dogs, bikes, their own names …the list goes on. Stephanie makes them in any colour requested and offers a fully customisable friendly service (I was a bit tempted to get a ‘Wardrobe Angel’ necklace. In green and black. Obvs.)
I think in this day and age it’s easy to believe everything we are told: there are no jobs for graduates, it’s getting harder and harder to earn a living, the economy is in tatters. All doom and gloom? Stephanie has realised her “skills that pay the bills” may not be everyone’s cup of tea but by diversifying her product range, marketing each accordingly and implementing a pricing strategy which compliments both ends of her market she is niching herself in a way that opens opportunities to her, rather than putting all her eggs in one necklace, so to speak.  So what does the future hold?
“I want to keep working for myself. My jewellery is always evolving, I am finding out new things all the time. I can see myself taking a more household route in the future – maybe into furniture and artwork.”
Not only is she generally awesome, makes a great brew and owns her own laser cutter, she has a hamburger phone. An actual hamburger phone. Old school cool. What’s not to love?
Here's her website if you want a gander: http://www.stephaniehamer.co.uk/

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