Stay Sunny Girls Interview Series

Stay Sunny Pt. 3 - Carrie Elizabeth Jewellery

Stay Sunny Pt. 3 - Carrie Elizabeth Jewellery

Our Stay Sunny Chicago girl this issue is Carrie Elizabeth Dennahy, the founder of London-based jewellery brand Carrie Elizabeth.  
Carrie had spent the past 10 years working as a fashion and jewellery buyer for one of the UK’s leading retailers. She travelled to search out beautiful jewellery in New York, Asia and India.   It was during one of her many work trips she realised many of the wonderful brands she was seeing were beyond her reach. She simply couldn’t afford them.  She was inspired to set up her own brand, Carrie Elizabeth, offering stunning designs at affordable prices.  Soon to be stocked on ASOS and Anthropologie we can't wait to see her brand grow! 

Do you think jewellery has an important place in people’s lives and if yes, why?

Yes absolutely. People have been wearing jewellery for thousands of years, for the same reasons we do now- either because it carries a special personal meaning or to simply adorn themselves. Jewellery is one of the only objects that get worn, loved and passed down through generations. It is also something that is often chosen and given with much love as gifts, which to me is wonderful to be a part of. Jewellery stays with you for life (if you look after it well), and thus you end up collecting memories that you can look back on for years to come. 

At what age did you first become passionate about jewellery? When did you come to recognise you had a talent for choosing/designing jewellery?

I have always been what my mum called a ‘magpie’- always attracted to anything pretty/ shiny. As a small child I would spend hours collecting little mother of pearl shells on the beach- because i loved the way they shone all different colours in the light. When I was old enough to travel, I started buying myself a piece of jewellery from every holiday I went on so my jewellery collection had a unique feel and also held memories for me- so I guess I have always been passionate about jewellery! It wasn’t until I joined the Jewellery Buying team in Accessorize, that I realised that I could use this passion, turn it into a skill and create a successful career from it. 

Do you have any formal training in jewellery design?

All of my training that I have received, I learned on the job at Accessorize. I worked along side some of the most talented designers, suppliers, manufacturers and product technologists- without whom I’m sure i wouldn’t be where I am today. 

 


What was the one thing you learned establishing your own business?

That you just have to go for it. If you are truly passionate about something, think about it every day, talk about it every day- then do it. There were many reasons for me, and are many reasons for others, not to start a business- but if you have a great support network around you, are hard working and most importantly see a gap in the market- then take a leap of faith. There is no such thing as failure. I make mistakes all of the time, and just learn from them. Ensure that you know where your weaknesses lie, and surround yourself with people who can aid you in those areas. Listen and seek advice from those who have more experience than you. 

What inspired your first collection for Carrie Elizabeth?

Wearability, simplicity of designs, delicateness, beautiful hues of colour and price. I tried to design piecers that were contemporary and of the moment, but that could be kept and worn for years. Investment pieces! 

Can you tell us something about the jewellery you design?  What, to you, makes it special and something buyers might desire?

I sourced the finest semi precious stones that I can afford, so that all of our gemstones shine beautifully in the light. Because semiprecious stones are natural, they vary a lot in colour and that ethereal shine that they have in the light. High street retailers have to use the lower quality stones, that can often be one colour/ flat, so this was my number one goal when designing the collection- that ALL stones used must be of a high enough grade that every single customer who bought my products would get something they loved. I never send out a piece of jewellery that I wouldn’t love to receive myself. 

Your pieces are all ethically sourced and handmade in India. How important was this to you in setting up your business? 

Extremely important. I have visited all of the factories where I produce my products in India, and know the factory owners personally. My pieces are made by very talented local artisans, whose skills have been passed down from generation to generation for years. It's very important to support these tradesmen in their craft in order to make sure that these skills continue to thrive for years to come.

What values are important to you in business? 

The same values that are important to me in life. Honesty, thankfulness, hard work, camaraderie, teamwork & recognition of those around you who make what you do possible. Oh, and to have fun whilst doing it! 

Why is it important to you to keep your jewellery affordable?

There is a really large gap between highstreet jewellery which sells for on average for £15 a piece, and fine jewellery which costs thousands. There are not many brands out there offering beautiful real jewellery that are affordable to the mass market- so price was extremely important to me. It's such a pleasure to be able to create pieces that are luxurious but affordable. I receive so many emails from thrilled wives, girlfriends, mothers etc.. who have received my pieces as gifts and adore them. We also have a lot of women wear our pieces on their wedding days, which again, is just wonderful for us to be a part of.

Do you have a business mentor?

I do! I actually have two. One who comes from a retail consultancy background, and the other is a jewellery manufacturer and has his own brand. We catch up one a month on what I’m up to, and they keep me inspired to keep moving forwards and help me with anything they can. Im very fortunate.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Whatever you do, do it with passion, energy and hard work, and you will do well.

 
 
 
 To check out more of Carrie's designs visit http://carrieelizabeth.co.uk/
Follow her on instagram here: @carrie_elizabeth_jewellery

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