Brisstyle Member Questions
Back in 2020 I answered some questions for a blog for Bristyle, but with Covid and everything else they never ended up getting published!
I thought I would put them up here and it hopefully gives you a bit more insight to me and my business!
- Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you create?
Hello, I am Sinead, I design and make gold and silver jewellery with beautiful gemstones in linear repeating designs inspired by my travels.
I am originally from Scotland. I moved to Australia in 2007, lived in Sri Lanka for several years and moved from Sydney to Brisbane last year.
- What makes what you do that bit different to the other people in your creative field?
I have a large collection of unusual gemstones I hand selected on my travels. I use these for my pieces, to make a limited edition designs or special custom orders, working with the customer. I have quite a distinctive style using linear wire shapes in open designs.
- How long since you started on this creative journey?
I graduated from my degree in Jewellery and Metal Design in 2005. There weren’t many jobs around I could find making jewellery so that was it, I started my own business!
At New Designers in London, with my final uni show pieces in 2005.
On my workbench in 2009.
Canberra Handmade Markets at the Woolshed, circa 2010.
A piece from my final year at Uni in 2005.
Were you creative as a child/do you come from a creative family?
Creating was all I did as a child. I wouldn’t say I came from a creative family but I was always encouraged and supported. I was always in my room making something. I started making jewellery to raise money for a TV when I was around 11, selling it to my parents work colleagues. I didn’t always intend on becoming a jeweller but when I did the jewellery component of my art degree there was no doubt I would specialise in jewellery!
Snowman earrings I made back when I was at school - with upcycled beads I bought from the charity shop!
- What’s the story behind your business/shop name (if applicable)?
My business name is simply my name, which is common practice amongst jewellers in the UK. In the UK you must hallmark all precious metal items and you are assigned a makers mark based on your initials. I have my makers mark as part of my logo.
Do you do this as a hobby or as a small business?
I do this as a business. I love that I can be able to be flexible with my work around my boys and partners work. I am always working on developing my business and balancing my time. It is hard to keep using my time most effectively when the to do list never ends!
- How have you found your work has evolved since you started?
I designed my whole collection for my final show at Uni using silicon. I moved away from it when I was unable to make it durable enough to be worn daily. I always have a tactile element to my work. I have developed and made many collections over the years. I used to make some laser cut jewellery but focused back on working only in precious metals as it was more sustainable. I feel now I have arrived at a style that is my own. Simple linear repeating shapes and pops of colour are a common theme – I love that in the artwork I buy too. I always collected unusual gemstones and over time these have featured more in my work.
How did you start selling your work? Do you sell online or at markets/shops?
When I first graduated in 2005, websites were very limited in online selling but I did have a basic website. I was on Etsy early on and did quite well. I mainly sold my work at markets and through stockists. Everything became much harder when I lived in Sri Lanka with no markets and being unable to post items securely, so I concentrated on custom orders. Since returning back to Australia I have been building up products on my website and my Etsy store. I have so many customers from all over the world and I don’t want them to miss out simply because I am so far away. Online is much more flexible for around the children and my partners work. Travelling for markets is not so easy now! I prefer to do select larger markets now. I know for me as a visitor at markets I am often time poor, I need to go home, look at the person’s website and think about a purchase. As a large part of my work is also custom make to order so I have been working on making the options and costs easier to see on my website.
My first ever website in 2005!
How do you find your inspiration?
My current collections are all direct influences of my time living overseas in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. I love the ornate repeating designs on temples, the architecture and the traditional designs which I reinterpret in my own style. I have always loved Art Deco, particularly the Scottish “Glasgow Style” of this period. I embrace everything Scottish more the longer I am away from Scotland! Particularly Celtic designs. I love to see how cultures from around the world created similar designs and the symbolism behind them. I also adore gemstones. I studied Gemmology and it fuelled my passion. I love the beauty created in nature and the inclusions that show the crystal structure of the gemstones, or the magical effects they create. I often use a gems from my collection as a starting point.
Describe your studio/workspace?
I have a dedicated studio I can lock the door to and it is my happy place. A jewellery bench is actually quite compact as you have all your tools within reaching distance. I have a permanently set up area where I can take pictures, a separate area for polishing and hammering and a desk where I can sketch and play around with gemstones and designs. I have lots of things that inspire me around, like other makers work and interesting gumnuts or trinkets. Some I use for photography props. I also have all my sketchbooks filled with doodles and experiments or things I like. I go back to these time and time again and come up with new ideas each time. I might have sketched one item repeatedly and slightly differently over the years, finally using it one day when I find the perfect solution for it!
Describe a typical creative day? How do you balance your creativity with your everyday life/work?
I have two boys, one at school and the other at Pre-school. So after drop off on the days both are at school - this is jewellery time! I guard this time carefully! Then I fit in all the rest of life’s admin around when I have them. I try to do some work when they are around but it can’t be making or tasks that require lots of concentration. I am so grateful to have flexible work.
I used to tell myself I would get the admin and computer / website work done in the evening but I am always overoptimistic about how long it will take or what my energy levels will be! I know now to have a very short to do list and tackle the most important tasks first, when I am child free. I like to get things done as soon as I can as other urgent things always come up or the school holidays arrive again.
- Do you listen to music/tv/podcasts etc while creating?
I love listening to non-fiction business and self improvement Audiobooks from the library, as I never get around to reading books otherwise! I listen to lots of podcasts and replays of webinars or TED talks I have bookmarked. I used to listen to business podcasts only but I am really enjoying learning new things about anything interesting! If I am doing work on the computer I can’t concentrate unless there is silence.
I love “Ladies We Need to Talk” by Yumi Stynes
I have been listening to lots related to the Black Lives Matter movement lately too.
Some business podcasts I listen to - Building a Storybrand, Wellness for makers, Conversations of Inspiration, Marie Forleo, Thrive by Design and Starving Artist.
- Do you have any advice for someone starting out in the creative world? Any tips that might help them?
Don’t depend on your work solely for your income if you can in the early days, this way you won’t have the pressure to churn things out for money. Take the time to keep getting better and push your art further. Don’t keep looking at everyone else.
Learn the business side of things if you want to make it an income. People I love to learn from / books:
The Art of Shouting Quietly – Pete Mosley
Profit First – Mike Michalowich
Building a Storybrand – Donald Miller
This is Marketing – Seth Godin
Megan Auman (great emails and blogs)
The Design Trust (brilliant webinars)
Creative Plus Business (brilliant webinars)
- Do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process? If yes, how is your art/craft eco-friendly?
Jewellery by it’s nature has always been an eco friendly profession – jewellers collect gold and silver scraps and send them off to be melted and reused due to their value. I choose to work with precious metals BECAUSE they can endlessly be recycled and repaired. I used recycled gold and silver in my work. I speak about this on my website, as it is a part of my life and work to use less and buy things to last. I design my pieces to be practical and lasting. I encourage my clients to trade in and upgrade pieces or redesign them so no pieces are left unworn and forgotten. I also try to educate about quality and simple repairs you can do yourself.
- Do you have a favourite item to make?
I am in heaven when I am in the workshop playing around with new ideas, putting together prototypes and laying out all the different design possibilities. I always get so many ideas, I usually need to take a quick photograph so I can go back later and make an idea. I love getting out some gemstones and seeing what designs work with them too.
Do you have a favourite quote?
Less but better.
This applies to life, work and what you buy!
- Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?
It looks like online is definitely going to continue to be the way forward for the foreseeable future! I am really hopeful that by Christmas we can be back doing some in person markets but it is still looking very uncertain at the moment. I participated in an online jewellery exhibition with JMGQ (Jewellers and Metal Group of Queensland). It has been great to challenge myself and work on some new designs and push my practice further. I hope to do a few more pieces like this. I am also gradually expanding my selection of gold pieces listed on my website. I want to have more examples of Wedding ring options as these have been really popular on Etsy. I always have big ideas that I am working on, so hopefully I can make progress on them. I am continuously developing my website to improve the custom design selections. I would love to have a truly circular business, formally offering a trade in scheme – I am just exploring this now.
- Where can we find you online/stockists (links etc)?
My own website has everything:
Follow me on Instagram to see behind the scenes and new designs in progress:
I am also on Etsy:
- Whereabouts did you find out about BrisStyle?
BrisStyle was recommended to me by Sydney makers when I asked for ways to connect with the Brisbane creative scene.
- How long ago did you become a member and what made you decide to join?
I joined BrisStyle when I moved to Brisbane in January 2019. I wanted to meet other makers and small business owners in the area and BrisStyle was the perfect way to do this! The community is wonderful and it is lovely now to think how many people I have become friends with here.