Joanne recently asked me to write a blog post about how I went from working as a freelance textile designer & lecturer to a fully self employed business owner, working with my husband, Ashley, to design and hand make jewellery. Prior to setting up LuLu & Charles Jewellery I had worked as a part-time lecture at Newcastle College teaching fashion & textiles and self employed freelance designer. After the arrival of our second son I decided to leave education and focus on the freelance side of my career, which worked perfectly around the boys while they were little. Ashley on the other hand was working for my dad at Christopher James Jewellers, based in the Metro Centre.
My daily routine consisted of designing and making garment fronts for the fashion industry. I specialised in mixed media textile designs, combining hand embroidery, print & embellishment. Reworking antique lace and vintage prints. While Ashley was happy working at Christopher James Jewellers, he loved his job working in a busy jewellery shop, employed as a finisher, jeweller, sales assistant. He would never in a million years have dreamed of working for himself.
It wasn’t until my dad’s shop closed and Ashley was faced with redundancy that the idea of us working together crossed our minds. At the time I was pregnant with our 3rd son, so the timing was a worry. However despite the bad timing, I now look back and believe it was the best thing that could have happened! Freelancing was getting harder and the industry had shifted towards digital trends, which just wasn’t my design style. So I had been looking for a new direction and what with Ashley’s redundancy on the cards, we were forced to do something and make some decisions. I knew I wanted to do something new with a creative focus that would work around our hectic family life. Jewellery was all Ashley had ever known and something I’d been brought up with, so combining my vision and design skills with Ashley’s knowledge, the idea of setting up a handmade jewellery brand was born.
The shop was a huge part of our lives, it’s what brought us together in the first place and as a result of the shops closure the idea of LuLu & Charles Jewellery was formed. In a short space of time our business started to take shape, growing from world of mouth and social media. Initially the idea was for myself to design jewellery for Ashley to make, however that soon changed when I realised I wanted to learn the trade and make jewellery too.
Surprisingly we work really well together, our strengths and weaknesses seem to create the balance our business needs, we couldn’t do it without each other. We love, live & breath our little business, it’s like our fourth baby!
Although it feels like a distant memory now… at the time, it was quite a bold and scary move, which just seamed to happen accidentally more than anything. Maybe it was fate….I don’t know? However upon reflection it was the best thing that could have happened to us, the timing was perfect. Inevitably Ashley’s redundancy gave us both the push we needed to change path and follow our dream, creating a business that works for us. Fast forward four years and our business has grown steadily, we have repeat customers from all over the world, who keep coming back.
As a husband and wife team we share the highs and lows of running a business, I still have to pinch myself sometimes when customers get in touch to say, they LOVE what we do & have always wanted to own a piece of LuLu & Charles Jewellery.
One of my own pieces of Lulu Charles Jewellery, made using gold from old sentimental jewellery I had , that was just sat in a drawer gathering dust, until Jayne and Ashley, took that gold and made it in to my Joanne necklace, I absolutely adore 💕.
To find out more about LuLu & Charles Jewellery please visit www.lulucharlesjewellery.com