Article by April Luescher
If anyone had said to me twelve months ago that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I would never have believed them. I was trickling along quite happily as a wife and mother of two small boys, living in a village on the edge of Southampton Water, working from home with a good, flexible career that I’ve been in for the last dozen years. Then in March last year everything changed.
Like most women, I suppose, I’ve always looked up to my mother. A creative person with an eye for colour and design, she never had the opportunity to pursue her love of art in a formal way, instead pouring her energies into raising children and being a homemaker (making curtains, upholstering furniture and creating everything from school dresses to ball gowns for me along the way!).
Once my brother and I had left home to make our own way, she turned her attentions to local government, and became very successful and influential in that sphere, her absolute devotion to helping her constituents and “doing the right thing” winning over many colleagues and members of the public in an environment where distrust of officialdom and people’s true motives seems to be the norm. Her creativity continued to find an outlet, however – in jewellery making, which she threw herself into in her typical all consuming style, and would use it as a way of relaxing in the evenings after another tough day in endless meetings. People noticed her beautiful, eye-catching pieces, asked her to make things for them, and Anna’s Jewellery Designs was born. She had a particular passion for Murano glass, and found a kindred spirit in an artist and glassmaker on the Venetian island who happily supplied her with unique components.
In December 2010, literally overnight, she started to suffer from immobilising back pain, and by mid February it transpired that she had pancreatic cancer that had secretly, evilly, spread itself throughout her bone structure. There was nothing that could be done. She died – bravely accepting what could not be changed, I will never grasp how she managed that – just four weeks and two days after her diagnosis.
During those short weeks, we had many conversations of a nature that I never imagined I would be having at that stage of my life with my mother, and in one such she asked me if I would carry on her jewellery business for her. I had had a small jewellery-making enterprise myself for a few years (focusing on nursing bracelets and christening bracelets), and so I agreed. Little did I realise quite what I was taking on! The sheer volume of loose beads and findings alone prompted a major reorganisation of space in our home office and in the house. But the process of learning new techniques and, in particular, designing new pieces led me to discover something in myself that I always believed Mum and I did not have in common – creativity.
Since taking on the business, life has changed immeasurably. Although I started slowly, learning the ropes with the occasional school fair and home jewellery party, followed by a business course at the London Jewellery School to learn about pricing, photography, legalities, marketing – all the things that I knew very little about, and something that I would never have thought of doing beforehand – things really began to take off in the second half of 2011. I redesigned both the business cards and the website to make them more contemporary. I also started to use social media as a means of getting the name out there – a step that Mum would never have taken, as she was not comfortable with it – but Anna’s Jewellery Designs is now on Facebook and Twitter, as well as other sites such as Stallfinder and WowThankYou. People call or email me out of nowhere, having found my site on the Internet, to ask for bespoke pieces or to request that I attend events as a stallholder. And at the beginning of 2012 I started attending wedding fairs, to publicise my work and offer my services to brides, bridesmaids and mothers of the bride/groom to design a special piece of jewellery to go with their outfit for the day. In the last three weeks alone I have managed to secure an outlet through both an independent dress shop and a new art gallery. And my first buying trip to Murano is booked for the end of April.
I realise that in many ways I am exceptionally lucky – I was handed an existing small business with a website, plenty of stock, and a business bank account all set up and ready to go. I’m willing to bet that there are very few people who start out in business with all that provided for them. But I think that the real luxury for me is not being trapped in the endless “buy/make/sell in order to buy more” cycle. It is a sheer joy to be able to open up one of Mum’s endless boxes of beads and think “what shall I play with today?”
One year on, and despite still missing my mother every single day, I believe her gift of her business has changed my life for the better. I am working out the vestiges of my notice on my job, freeing me up to pursue a new, creative and fulfilling form of employment. I have gone from an “any colour you like as long as it’s black” person to someone who draws inspiration from the beauty and depth of vibrant colours. I’ve designed and created everything from full sets of wedding jewellery through big “statement” necklaces for special occasions to earrings for friends that they wear on the school run!
This was truly an opportunity that fell into my lap. Despite not knowing where it would take me, I am so glad that I seized it. Life is too short not to do what makes you happy.
Find Anna’s Jewellery on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnnasJewelleryDesigns
And Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnasJewellery
Click to see more articles on morethanmummies.com
Would you like to write an article for morethanmummies.com? Click here to find out more
If you like this post please share, like or tweet