So, firstly can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve lived in Tunbridge Wells for over 30 years, I live in a male dominated household with my husband, three boys…and our dog, who’s also a boy! I own my own jewellery business as well as help to run a training business in London.
How did your Bella Jane Jewellery venture come about?
Entertaining one of my boys in the summer holidays, when he was about five or six, I took him to Hobbycraft to pick an activity for our afternoon together. He chose jewellery making! We spent the afternoon making beaded creations to give to the grannies and I think they were suitably impressed.
‘I have always loved jewellery and wanted my pieces to be affordable enough that people could collect items over time in order to create their own unique stacks’
I absolutely loved it and so decided to create a few pieces for myself over the next few weeks. Not being much of a costume jewellery fan I decided to create some stacking bracelet designs in sterling silver….and the rest, as they say, is history!
And how did it transform itself into the successful business you run today?
I think it would be true to say that I have an entrepreneurial spirit and having completed a management buy-out and worked with venture capitalists for several years in London, I thought why not apply what I’ve learnt along the way by creating something of my own? So I decided to set up a website and see what happened. With a lot of hard work and determination the business soon started to blossom, and it seems that stacking has now become a bit of a ‘thing’!
What were your key aims when you came up with the idea for Bella Jane Jewellery and have you achieved them?
My key aim was to create luxurious jewellery using fine materials that could be sold at guilt-free prices. I have always loved jewellery and wanted my pieces to be affordable enough that people could collect items in order to create their own unique ‘stacks’. I like to think that I have achieved this.
What have you learnt from running your own business?
I have learnt so much from running my own business – but if I had to pick one thing I would say that customer service is everything. Right from the outset I have always treated customers as I’d like to be treated – something that for many of us is second nature. However, in business this is often not the case.
Do you make everything yourself by hand?
Yes I put all the jewellery – bracelets, rings and necklaces – together and hand-make each piece. And I get all the individual components such as the beads and charm trinkets made for me.
What inspires your designs?
So many things! I love fashion so always keep an eye on current trends, and I’m inspired daily. I’m always thinking of new ideas but above all, I tend to just make what I like. There’s nothing on my website that I wouldn’t wear myself.
You’ve been featured in many national titles – how have you achieved this?
I have been very fortunate in that I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing influencers and have been lucky enough to have a few ‘pinch me’ moments where celebrities have been spotted wearing my jewellery. But I try not to think of them as any different to my lovely regular customers. I try to be as proactive as I can with my PR, but as with any small business, making time for this is always a challenge.
What are your plans for 2020?
I’m already working on the first collection for 2020, which will feature lots of fabulous new pieces and will be launched in January. Up until now the main focus has been the bracelet and ring stacks but expect to see some necklace stacking next year too!
Find out more about Bella Jane Jewellery at www.bellajanejewellery.co.uk
How to be social media savvy
How useful is social media for you?
Social media is such a powerful marketing tool for small businesses. It gives small businesses a voice and a shop window to reach a wider audience.
Which platforms do you use most and why?
I use pretty much all of the platforms but Instagram and Facebook are my favourites as they are more visual and as they say, a picture can paint a thousand words! These platforms also give me the opportunity to interact with customers in a way that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
Do you collaborate with any other influencers?
I have collaborated with a few wonderful influencers, some of whom I’m lucky to be able to call my friends. I also collaborate with other small businesses so that we can support each other.
Do you find the local Instagram community supportive?
It is incredibly supportive and it’s fabulous to be able to support other small businesses and charities in the community too. I loved working with, and raising money for West Kent Mind last year.
Describe your perfect Christmas Day?
As one of my bracelets says, ‘Family is everything’. We always spend Christmas at home with both close and extended family so it tends to be pretty hectic – but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I adore the Christmas period so we enter into the festive spirit whole-heartedly in our house.
What are your top tips for stress-free Christmas present shopping?
For me it’s all about the list! Obviously, the run-up to Christmas is the busiest time of year for my business, so there’s definitely not a huge amount of time to be browsing the shops looking for inspiration, so I tend to make a list of all the people I need to buy for with suggestions next to each, and then armed with this, I go off and don’t come home until I’m sorted. This way, I avoid the thing – please tell me we’ve all done it – where you buy something because you like it and then when you sort out the gifts, it’s not quite suitable for anyone…apart from you!
Which of your designs would make the ideal gift for a mother/daughter/best friend?
The beauty of having over 150 timeless designs to choose from means that there is literally something for everyone. My top picks this Christmas would be:
Mother: Family is everything or Serenity bracelet
Daughter: Initial bracelet or if you really want to spoil her, the Bella stack
Friend: Friendship bracelet featuring the words ‘My world is a better place with a friend like you’
Are you doing any Christmas events locally during December?
There’s nothing I love more than meeting customers but with the business having grown so much in the last 18 months, sadly time just doesn’t allow for events this year, but I hope that will change for next year – watch this space.
Why I love Tunbridge Wells – Annabel Davies
Where is your favourite place to shop?
It’s no secret to anyone I know, that I am a self-confessed beauty junkie, so if I could only pick one shop to go to, SpaceNK would win the race! Running my business alone means there’s little time for shopping. However, if I do get time to indulge, there’s nothing I love more than a mooch around the independent boutiques on the High Street – something unique and quirky is sure to brighten my day.
And to eat out?
I think it’s no secret that we’re thoroughly spoilt for choice in Tunbridge Wells for places to eat and there are too many to list that I love! However, for the ultimate indulgence you can’t beat brunch at Hattons on The Pantiles.
And for coffee – or cocktails?
I love nothing more than a slice of cake and does anybody in Tunbridge Wells do better cake than Juliets?!
Finally, where’s the best place to go locally at Christmas?
To get everyone in the Christmas spirit you can’t beat a family trip to the ice-rink.
Art Direction: Lee Smith
Photography: Craig Matthews