We thought it was about time to introduce you to the makers behind our fabulous handmade goodies in-store…so, in the first of our Meet the Maker specials, please say hello to Emma of JEMS Jewellery by Emma M Swailes
How did you become a designer/maker?
I have always loved Art and Craft, so knew I wanted to design and make in the future. I went to Leeds College of Art in 2005 with dreams of wanting to be a furniture designer. I struggled along the degree course and failed in 2008. Devastated and unsure what to do next, I remembered I was introduced to jewellery making as a taster in the course, and loved it. Plus I have always been covered in bling from a young age. I looked for degrees nearby to start again. (I really wanted a degree!) I found metalwork and jewellery at Sheffield Hallam University and enrolled in 2009, graduating with a 2;1 three years later! Success
How did you choose your business name and what’s the meaning behind it?
My clever name ‘JEMS’ stands for ‘Jewellery by Emma M Swailes’ This was unfortunately not my doing. Whiles racking my brains on what to call my business back in 2012, my husband casually breezed in with this suggestion. I was like THAT IS IT! A play on words and a meaning attached, fantastic. I only wish I had thought of it!
Do you run your business full time or balance another job as well?
I am full time, over time and all the time! It’s hard not to be working too much when you’re the only one running the business and your workshop is in your house, beckoning you to come in and play. The thing is this is my dream job and I love to do it. It’s hard sometimes as money stops coming in, and I have lots of stock. This is when I have to be really strict with myself and stop working until a commission comes in or I sell at fairs. But as the saying says “if you love your job, you never work a day in your life”
What’s your favourite thing about running your business?
That it is all my hard work. I amaze myself at times with the things I have achieved in 3 small years. I strive to better myself at running JEMS. To improve designs, be more professional and progressive. I can see how I have improved over time and squirm at the start of my journey….as I had no idea what I was doing back then…I also love the community and the friends I have gained by swimming in the designer craft, self-employed circle. These are so my kind of people!
Of all the things you’ve ever made, which has been your favourite?
It’s got to be the personalised silver cocktail stirrers I made last winter for a friend’s wedding. My husband, his two friends and I were featured as regal looking drink stirrers, complete with name engraved scrolls. Our friends are American so the joke was the stirrers were his Leeds friends made into cocktail stirrers for his bar. The head profiles where inspired by the UK stamp profile of the queen, but our heads! It was a very fun, tongue in cheek commission, and the bride and groom loved it!
Describe your business in three words
Bold, enjoyable, narrative
Wow, Emma, those cocktail stirrers are incredible! We think you should make them a permanent part of your range at Our Handmade Collective! Thanks so much for dropping by and telling us your story. You can find the JEMS collection in store now.
See you at the shop x