We catch up with award-winning jewellery designer Catherine, whose work has a multitude of fans including HRH Duchess of Cambridge, Alesha Dixon, Vogue Williams, Beyonce and many more….
So Catherine, when did you set up the business and what were you doing beforehand?
I set up my business in 2012. Prior to that I worked in London designing collections for fashion brands such as Vivienne Westwood, Matthew Williamson and fine jewellery brands including Theo Fennell. It was great fun and gave me a fantastic grounding for my own business.
Did you choose your studio location for any particular reason?
My husband grew up in the Cotswolds and I had fallen in love with the area when we were getting to know each other. So, when we decided to leave London, it was where we wanted to be. It makes a great location for my studio as I have the inspiration from the beautiful countryside but am only a couple of hours from London and Birmingham for meetings and also Hatton Garden for materials and gem stones.
How many people do you work with and what do they do
In the workshop we have a team of five craftsmen. In jewellery making everyone has very specific jobs so we all will work on a piece together stage by stage. So for example, I will design the piece and show my drawings or wax carvings to the mounter, he will create the initial framework/shape in metal, it will then be passed on to the polisher to polish, then if stones are being set it will be passed on to the stone setter, and then the final polish and clean before its ready to be wrapped up and sent to someone special. I also have a small team to help with fulfilling the orders and of course marketing and PR.
What’s a fairly typical day for you?
It varies throughout the year as the months before Christmas are madness, so spring is my time to design new collections. Although I would love to be designing all the time, the running of the business tends to take up most of my day, working on the website, answering emails, PR, accounts etc etc. I usually wake up and have a quick breakfast and then start answering emails. I’ll take my dog Foxy for a quick spin and then after that I check in with the workshop and make sure everything is on track. I will then speak with clients and work on designs.
Next I’ll check in on dispatch and make sure all orders are ready for collection at 3pm. Once dispatch is done I then get to take Foxy for a lovely walk by the river or lakes nearby. This helps clear my head and the best part about living in the countryside. Then I am back at my desk designing and answering emails until late into the evening. My husband and I really enjoy our food so I always enjoy making Thai or Vietnamese food at dinner time, he is also a fantastic cook and tends to make more french and Italian so we get to enjoy eating a range of delicious food but using local ingredients as much as possible.
How do you get to work?
I am very lucky as I have my studio at home.
Where would you recommend to eat during your lunch break?
I used to go to Lynwoods café in Lechlade (which was a bit of a drive), then they opened one just down the road in Fairford, which I was very pleased about! So I go there a lot for avocado on toast and a ginger ninja shot. I also often walk the dog to the village shop in Coln and grab a bite to eat there and in the summer they have a lovely garden where you can enjoy eating outside. And then if I have a meeting I like having lunch at the organic farmshop in Cirencester which always feels super healthy and a very beautiful spot to enjoy lunch in the cafe.
What’s been the most challenging and most rewarding part of your business to date and why?
The most challenging part is when you grow, how to keep the personal touch and not get swamped in the admin side of things. Customer service is incredibly important to me, so it’s finding a balance of growing in size but still keeping in touch with all my clients.
There are lots of great rewards. I get emails from my clients telling me how much they love their jewellery and what it means to them, then there are the engagement rings I work on, often knowing that someone is going to secretly propose to their lover is always exciting. Then being stocked in places like Fortnum & Mason and seeing my jewellery alongside legendary designers is a huge boost. And then there is the excitement of celebrity endorsements and even orders from Buckingham Palace. Everyday there is something that makes me smile.
Any new pieces we should be looking out for this year?
In the past I have mostly focussed on gold and silver pieces but I have just come back from Jaipur in India where I have been sourcing stones, so my next collection will have an injection of colour which I am very excited about. I hope to launch it this summer.
What’s your most popular? What’s your own personal favourite?
My most popular pieces are the Double Leaf Earrings and Fern Hoop Earring. These are the pieces the Duchess of Cambridge has and have been a firm favourite with my clients for a long time. One of my favourites is the honeybee and moonlight pearl pendant. I love the gold and the pearl combination and she looks like she’s just taking off with her delicious piece of nectar on her way home.
If you could recommend one place to go in the Cotswolds to a first time visitor where would it be?
Oooh, difficult one! There are so many wonderful places to go in the Cotswolds, from shopping to eating but I think the countryside is really what it is all about for me. When we have friends staying we will usually go for a walk followed by lunch in a pub…. A very good one is to start in Bibury (a classic spot for anyone who has not been to the Cotswolds before) then walk out of the village and follow the valley all the way to Coln St Aldwyns where you can have a lovely lunch in the New Inn. It takes about an hour and you get the best of everything, pretty Cotswold Villages, rolling countryside, a winding river and a great pub. Do that on a summers day and it’s pretty hard to beat!
How do you unwind after a day at work?
We have a lot of friends living in the villages around us, so un-winding usually involve’s dinner with them at someone’s house or in a pub. We also have an amazing pilates barn in the village which I join in a class once a week in the evening which makes my body feel good afterwards.
We are very lucky living in the Cotswolds as all you really need to do to un-wind is walk out of the door.