“My inspiration comes from a continued love affair with colour and self-expression”
7th October 2019
Accomplished accessory designer Catherine De Crèvecoeur has just celebrated her first year in business and is just about to launch her new Autumn/Winter 19 collection. Eileen Leahy caught up with the French-born jewellery maker to find out the secrets of her success
Up until 18 months ago Catherine de Crèvecoeur was working as a freelance fashion editor penning a monthly column and running her own personal styling business. Her eye for detail, trends and colour was her calling card which ensured she consulted some of most powerful women – and men – in the corporate world on their wardrobes and attended all the important shows at London Fashion Week. But French born Catherine had always harboured a desire to push the envelope just a little bit further in terms of her creative vision, as she explains:
“Part of my job when dressing people was to finish off their outfits with accessories. I often attended trade shows and two years ago I discovered an amazing leather company and something just clicked: I thought to myself I could do something with this.”
After visiting the company’s warehouse in London, which she describes as an ‘Alibaba’s cave’, the germination of a jewellery-making business began to form. Catherine put the hours in, teaching herself how to expertly cut leathers. At first she toyed with the idea of making cuff style bracelets but says she wasn’t happy with the finished results so switched to earrings as she wore a lot herself.
'I am really excited about this collection as, like my earrings, I’ve made something super easy to wear that also adds a beautiful finish to many outfits'
Fast forward to May 2018 and the former advertising account director was launching her first collection of beautiful earrings. Entitled Les Midinettes, each pair was named after a special female in her life and boasted Catherine’s now trademark mix of super lightweight, ethically sourced leathers in glimmering metallic and eye-catching colourful printed suedes. They were an instant hit with her friends and word started spreading pretty quickly about them – mainly via Instagram, which Catherine credits as being a major part of her swift success.
“People have really shown their support for my small start-up business. And that has been the biggest joy,” she smiles. “I have to pinch myself because I didn’t expect it to be so well received. I’ve been so overwhelmed by what has happened this past year since I launched my business and I’m just very grateful for all the people who’ve followed me on this journey.”
But if you’re not one of those many women who’ve invested in a pair or three of her stunning supple leather and suede creations which come in all manner of hot hues and cool monochromes then now’s your chance to discover a little bit more about Catherine as she exclusively reveals to SO magazine all about her new collection which for the first time will include a necklace line too…
Some of Catherine's new earring collection
How to be social media savvy
Like many modern day start-ups, social media has helped Catherine De Crèvecoeur in establishing and promoting her business. What are her top tips for using influential apps like Instagram?
1 Only launch yourself onto social media once you have a very clear idea of what it is you are offering, what your brand is about and what you want to say. Be consistent with your messaging and what you want to share with your audience. Be yourself: make it clear what it is that differentiates you from the others
2 Social media is one of the most overwhelming giant bubbles we can get lost in so make sure you give yourself time to get it right, stay away from it when you need to take a breather and try not to feel the pressure of comparing yourself to what everyone else is doing. And most importantly, believe in yourself
3 Asking influencers to promote my brand was something that was a little bit out of my comfort zone but it just so happened that these amazing women came across my jewellery, having either bought it or received it as a gift. When my phone started pinging with orders because they’d posted about my earrings, I was completely overwhelmed.
As a small business, this is a big deal. These women continue to support me and I feel like it it’s a lovely, organic way for women to support women and share with their followers something they genuinely love. I created The Women’s Tribe collection in their honour to thank them for supporting my business
4 There’s a good local support network of influencers here in Tunbridge Wells but to me they’re more than influencers, they are tremendously talented, kind, inspiring women who have a story to share and the ability to help lots of other women. I have been lucky enough to meet some of them and I love the fact that I have created new friendships beyond those little Instagram squares
5 Another thing I enjoy about being part of the social media community is that I can engage with my followers on two different levels. I can showcase my designs but I can also give them a little bit of insight into who I am, and show them that I’m also only human. This makes the whole experience more personal with my customers. And that’s the same for the people I follow. If you get it right in terms of what content you share and also remain authentic then it’s a great place for your business to flourish
Ideas, inspiration and creation
What inspires your designs in general?
Inspiration comes from my continued love affair with colour and self-expression. Growing up, I always dressed differently to others and this was my way of making my mark. As a child I was already drawn to bright, bold colours, unusual patterns and textures. I once begged my mum to buy me a top and a pair of shorts which had bright fluorescent mini palm trees and flamingos on them! In my early teens, my first pair of Converse was in a rich raspberry pink when everyone else was keeping it cool with white or black ones. So from this love of colour and self-expression came a desire to help women make a statement and give them confidence through something as simple as a beautiful accessory.
What inspired the designs for your Autumn/Winter 2019 collection?
I wanted to continue to create statement pieces by evolving my designs with the use of beautiful prints, colours and shapes that had more of a luxe feel about them. I definitely wanted to go back to using animal prints as my last leopard print collection completely sold out and my lovely customers kept asking me for more! I also thought about designs that would be perfect for the festive season and took my moons and stars design a step further with a combination of mixed metallics and bold colours. I will be introducing a few exclusive designs in the run-up to Christmas so watch this space...
When and why do you decide to create a few limited edition collections?
To be honest, some of them aren’t planned in advance which is why I think they are so successful, as they’re spontaneous and unexpected. I love to explore different colour and shape combinations. The beauty of that creative process is that the possibilities are endless and when I eventually create something that feels right, that I love and feel that my customers would enjoy, then that’s the moment I decide to launch it as a limited edition. Some of these ‘one-offs’ have now made it into the current collection because the response has been so positive.
Do you have any favourite prints, colours or shapes that you come back to time and time again?
Yes, absolutely, and since the launch of my very first collection, there are a definite few favourites which I keep re-inventing as they are so easy to wear and I guess have become a bit of a staple. You’ll recognise some of those ‘classic’ designs in my new collection...
You also provide a bespoke design service now. How did that come about?
I started getting more and more requests to make either tweaks to existing designs or create something completely new, so I decided to introduce a bespoke service. It’s a flat fee that doesn’t cost more than my usual pieces and the fee varies according to the amount of work to be done. It’s been an absolute treat as I love working with people who come to me with an idea and then make that vision come to life. It’s a lot of fun and very inspiring. When you design on your own all the time, it can be refreshing to get someone else’s perspective and working together with customers feels very rewarding.
Do you have a favourite pair out of all the collections you’ve designed so far?
‘Rebecca’ style from this summer’s Women’s Tribe collection, closely followed by the ‘Victoria’, from my debut range. I also love the ‘Athena’ design from my recent Mother of Pearl collection. But there are lots of designs I haven’t worn simply because I have made them with other women, with different tastes and styles, in mind.
How did you know the time is right to launch a new necklace line?
I spent ages thinking about necklaces. I tried lots of different ideas but was never quite happy with my finish so I parked them for a while until I eventually found exactly what direction I wanted to take with them. I am really excited about this collection as, like my earrings, I’ve made something super easy to wear that also adds a beautiful finish to many outfits. I hope people like them as much as they do my earrings.
Are you looking to expand your jewellery designs?
Yes, I always have new ideas but I never quite know when exactly I’ll be ready to go along with them. I think 2020 will see some new products join the Catherine de Crèvecoeur family...
Why I love Tunbridge Wells
Where’s your favourite place to shop?
The Spa Gallery: a small independent art gallery run by Philip Brett-Day on The Pantiles....pop in and be prepared to get lost in his world, he will quite happily share with you his incredible knowledge of art and stories of local artists and beyond. I have collected quite a few pieces from him already, including a few original Vogue covers from the 1920s!
And to eat out?
That’s a tricky one as we have so many great places now! Coco Retro does a mean Duck confit and is perfect for a date night. The Mount Edgcumbe is always a winner for a pub lunch and Zorba’s is usually where I end up for a late dinner with friends.
And for coffee or cocktails?
The Black Dog café is a favourite for coffee and it has to be The Ivy for drinks. I love to sit at its beautiful bar and it feels like you’re entering a different world when you arrive. The service is pretty impeccable too.
And to get away from it all?
Without a doubt, a walk through Ashdown Forest. It’s a place I go to religiously with my two boys and my husband at the weekend. We all hold hands, chat about everything and nothing, breathe in the fresh air and take in the beautiful views around us.