It’s summertime, and with the longer days, BBQ evenings and buckets and spades comes a desire to infuse some of that summer feeling into everything. A bit of frivolity, joie de vivre, light heartedness. And everything includes our clothing and accessories. Sarah Nettleton, Founder and Designer, of aMuse Fashions aims to bring a bit of the season into her jewellery pieces, and the Paper Sailboats, Fish ‘N’ Chips and Lollipop collections are perfect for this.
But as I found out from her, it’s far more complex than simply looking at a bucket and spade.
Sarah started out working on large scale sculptural pieces. As her passions and work progressed, she sought to transfer some of the skills and materials into jewellery. Like many women, she saw a problem, identified an solution, and a lot of hard work later it became her livelihood. “I started making jewellery mostly because I wanted certain looks that I could not find in the shops. I started doing it as a business when I realised that more people might be interested in my creations.”
Interested they are, with women who are seeking something a little unique or artistic flocking to her work. The necklaces, bracelets and rings are brightly coloured and created using surprising materials. “I like to play with the appearances of things, mimicking items, as with some of my food designs, or playing with expectations, such as the weight of my plastic imitation sea glass, which are drastically lighter than the real glass would be.”
One of the great things about both jewellery and the seaside is its enduring appeal, and this for Sarah is a huge bonus.”So often fashion is age based and I want to create jewellery that is ageless, something that a variety of people can relate to. Accessories make an outfit, and I think more emotion is connected with accessories. Jewellery, bags, and hats are often passed down and get the chance to build up more meaning throughout their lives.”
It was a family member who triggered Sarah’s love of jewellery. She tells me that her “great-aunt had the most amazing collection, ranging from antique pieces to modern, real gems and costume. She was never without a string of pearls and, on holidays, bracelets and a brooch.
“Every summer I would spend a week with her in her house just outside of Boston and I loved borrowing her jewellery just to play with. When I design a piece I think her influence is still very noticeable.”
These Boston summers might be surprising for anyone who has seen the latest jewellery collection, as quintessentially British is something which springs to mind. But fish & chips are iconic throughout the world, and although topic varies, nautical is a recurring theme. Sarah grew up by the sea, on the Long Island Sound and spent most holidays by the sea with her family. London based, a degree in art history, time in London, and an American upbringing have all influenced the designs, and no doubt fuel some of the more lateral creativity.
Making a business from a hobby isn’t an easy process. Sketches and mood boards, social media research, mock ups, 3D creations and multiple iterations are necessary. But then there’s also the struggle of understanding all the legal, technical, and financial aspects. But location helps.
“I think opportunity is the biggest thing that living in London offers. I have been able to join a lot of groups geared toward helping start-ups, attend courses for entrepreneurs, and make a lot of contacts amongst other small businesses and start-ups in a way that lets us help each other out. It’s a real community spirit here, very active and it helps so much to keep you from feeling alone when dealing with something unfamiliar with starting a business.
“From a design standpoint it is hard to get better than London, so many places to just go and get inspiration – museums, parks and just wandering a neighbourhood. Also if I want a material last minute to test out or play with, I can find it somewhere in London. There are very few things I can’t find within a short distance of my flat.”
After talking to Sarah, I’m feeling inspired – not only to rock some funky jewellery, but consider following my dream. So I do the geeky, awkward, but utterly essential thing – ask her advice. “Don’t give up,” she tells me. “It can be tough, especially if you are starting out on your own, so make sure you have a good support network.
“Take advantage of all the free help and advice out there, there are so many groups, courses, and websites geared towards helping new businesses out, and some of specifically made to support woman in business – use them. For many of these groups, the more people who use them, the more they can offer so it’s win-win. If you don’t know something, never be afraid to ask. I was so nervous about looking like I didn’t know what I was doing at first, then I realized everyone is in the same boat when it comes to start-up businesses. Lastly, remember to enjoy what you’re doing. Even when you are massively stressed out try to remind yourself why you decided to start out on your own, it will help you refocus and get back to the parts that make you happy.”
You can buy Sarah Nettleton’s work on www.amusefashions.com.