Be careful what you wish for – many of us must have been thinking this recently. How many of us have said “If only I could spend more time doing the things I love.” “If only I could spend less time at my desk working all hours.” Who could have predicted, for better or for worse, that our wishes would be granted. This the story - how Bijou Rebooted started.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been able to use my furlough to indulge in something that has, until now, purely been a passionate pastime.
For the past three decades I have been a PR professional working in the travel and leisure sector. Running my own consultancy, specialising in Australia and luxury brands, I’ve an interesting and exciting career that has allowed me to work with journalists, broadcasters and celebrities as well as to travel extensively. Travel has also given me the opportunity to buy unusual and interesting items of jewellery.
I’ve always been a bit of a magpie, drawn to beautiful things, loving the challenge of finding that one distinctive item even in the most unlikely of places. It was something I was renowned for among my colleagues, my jewellery always commented on.
Over the years my collection grew. I was increasingly buying unusual, handmade items from local artisans, whilst friends were giving me gifts. Gradually I started to wonder what I could do to make these things different or to spice up the things I had become bored with. And, I am not alone in this. I am sure most women have a box of jewellery they no longer wear but can’t part with. It might be something that’s damaged but still holds memories, or it might be a gift or an inherited item swathed in sentiment.
And so it was with me. The only difference was that I had no end of ideas. In the first instance I found a local jeweller who helped me to create new jewellery based on my own design ideas. For example, this pendant is made from five gold and silver bangles which were both mine as well as my daughter’s growing up. I couldn’t bear to part with any of them and hated seeing them lying in my jewellery drawer since we had outgrown most of them. Now, five individual items have a single narrative.
Over the ensuing years I would continue to receive comments about my jewellery from colleagues and complete strangers, the only difference now was that the necklaces were one-off items I’d designed myself.
Eventually I decided to go on a course so I could make the jewellery myself. As a result, my productivity quadrupled! I had more jewellery than I could ever wear, but still, I never thought of my jewellery as having business potential. Making the jewellery provided a creative counterpoint to my PR work.
One of the first things I made myself was this necklace. These five brooches were my mother’s. Whilst I never wear brooches, I couldn’t part with them especially since she has passed away. Reimagining them as a single necklace means I can feel her closeness whenever I wear it.
And, I guess I would have left it at that had not a colleague kept pestering me to sell something to her, and I certainly had enough to be able to do so. Eventually I succumbed and brought in a selection of things I could bear to part with. She bought three items and the business idea was born there and then.
However, it was not until this year that I actually had the time to devote to the whole concept, and, with the help of my husband, we developed a website, set up Instagram and Facebook profiles and I started taking pictures of my necklaces, providing a back story to each.
The pool of jewellery I redesign has also evolved. Increasingly I am being given items by kind friends who would rather see their unworn jewellery reimagined, whilst others I have bought from charity shops. It’s seeing a bagful of disparate items that gets my creative juices flowing.
Over the years, what started as a pastime to reimagine my own jewellery has slowly developed into a mission to stop jewellery going to landfill, giving items a new lease of life and a new story. I no longer buy anything that’s new, apart from the stringing wire and crimps of course.
I’m not just on a new career path, I’m on a mission to save the world from waste, one bead at a time. Will you join me on my journey?