UKJA Finalist Jeanne Marell on KickStart, mentoring and balancing her time

UKJA Finalist Jeanne Marell on KickStart, mentoring and balancing her time

International Jewellery London is thrilled to be supporting the Retail Jeweller UK Jewellery Awards New Designer of the Year category in 2016.

To celebrate, we’re finding out a little bit more about the shortlisted designer-makers and brands, including KickStarter 2014 Jeanne Marell.

Here the designer-maker delves into the challenges that impact her as a designer, her signature style and why applying for KickStart proved to be a business-changing opportunity…

Q: When did you found your brand and what is your background in jewellery design?
JM: I set up my jewellery business in 2014, following a Benchpeg award nomination for my Parody ring. I consider myself largely self-taught, with a few formative training courses to learn the basics. I did my first goldsmithing course at an evening college in the Netherlands, where I’m originally from, back in 1999.

I considered studying Jewellery Design at university, but started a product design degree at The Design Academy instead. I took a semester break from this to go and study gold and silversmithing at Escola Massana in Barcelona, but then returned to finish my Product Design degree. A few years on, during my first job at General Motors, I continued studying jewellery in evening education at Cranbrook School of Art near Detroit, Michigan.

Fast forward a decade and a long jewellery hiatus, I picked up my tools again for an evening course at Citylit. My first piece there, the Parody ring, was nominated for the Benchpeg award and all the interest and feedback propelled me into setting up my business.

Q: How would you describe your design style and is there a particular woman you design for?
JM: I design and make minimalist jewellery with a twist. Forms are often combinations of simple geometries, and the combination of two materials or finishes emphasise materiality in new, playful ways. My pieces are meticulously designed and executed with high attention to detail and craftsmanship. I design for women and men with a keen eye for architecture, graphic and product design, geometric structures, contrasting materials and finishes.

My jewellery makes a subtle statement, drawing the attention of equally observant eyes. Recently, I’ve seen an increased interest from couples, who are looking for pieces of jewellery to mark special occasions and that attract both partners equally.

Q: What is it like being a new designer in the UK jewellery industry?
The most exciting, but also the most challenging thing is prioritising between the myriad of opportunities out there: which events to show at, which stockists to pursue, how to focus your marketing efforts? Finding the balance between your precious time as designer, maker and business owner in the early days of growing your company is key.

Q: If you could learn one thing from a mentor or peer in the industry what would it be?
JM: What their view is on how to best prioritise all the opportunities, and how to stagger collection development, promotion and expansion to grow organically and sustainably

Q: Finally, how did being a KickStarter work for you and would you recommend the scheme to others?

JM: Following my Benchpeg award nomination, I decided to apply for KickStart in 2014. When I then got selected, it was my first show in my newly founded business’ calendar! Getting ready for IJL and KickStart really helped me focus in the early days of my business.

The show propelled the business forward, allowed me to become established quickly by giving me exposure and credibility. I met stockists, suppliers and built a network of peers, all of which are proving a great support each in their own way to this day.

Being selected for KickStart also gave me the confidence to pursue my wildest ambitions, resulting in showing at Goldsmiths’ Fair in 2015, the first time I applied.

The Retail Jeweller UK Jewellery Awards 2016 will take place at the London Hilton on Park Lane on June 29th 2016. For information, please click here

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