Chloe McColl Jewellery
Q&A WITH CHLOE McCOLL – DESIGNER AND BRAND DIRECTOR
Tell us the story of your business – was there a particular moment, person, or need that inspired it?
My business formed not long after I left university, I had studied Metals and Jewellery at Monash in Caulfield, and loved every moment of it and knew I wanted to work as hard as possible to make it the job I woke up and worked on every day. Creating the business wasn’t simple. It took a lot of hard work and self-discovery to find out what I wanted to be and represent as a jewellery brand. The motivation was my passion for making and creating with my hands and the dream of building a career from something I loved so much.
How did you come up with your business name?
I wanted to use my name, to put a face to the brand immediately, to say there was an artist who was creating for you and with you, and that every piece I made represented me. I wanted to create a balance between becoming a jewellery brand, and also remaining an artist with an artistic presence as well. Especially as I do have a range of jewellery that is sold online and to retail stores, but that I also create bespoke and custom pieces and offer that one on one design and artistic experience.
What first steps did you take to turn your business idea into a reality? Was it difficult or did all come together naturally?
It was completely scary. Creating the jewellery, interacting with people and customer service came easily, but it took a long time to become confident with the business side of things.
My business started small and grew very slowly but organically. It allowed me to also keep developing as an artist and to learn how I wanted my business to run, and how it would run successfully.
Firstly, I started out by doing smaller and more local markets. I found they were such a great way to have interactions with customers, and to gain feedback on my work. I discovered the designs that were popular, and then those that weren’t at all. So that I could build upon my successful and popular designs and grow my jewellery and business from them.
From there I was able to develop a thoughtful and successful range of jewellery and with the support of larger events, like The Big Design Market, I have been able to present it to a wider audience and grow as a result of this.
Tell us three things that make your product stand out?
1. Hand crafted by me. Every piece has evidence of the handmade, and thus every piece feels slightly different from one to the next, making each piece feel unique.
2. Very sculptural jewellery, I use a technique called ‘lost wax casting’ and it allows me to create a very sculptural and organic appearance to my work. A lot of the time jewellery or metal work can be quite neat or more classical. The sculptural nature of my jewellery creates softness in the metal that isn’t always expected.
3. When I am designing and creating, I like to explore an idea, to create a story behind it. I think when you buy, wear or gift a piece of jewellery it’s just so lovely when you can share with others a story as to what it represents.
Describe how you felt when you started to get your first customers. How has your relationship with customers grown and changed since then?
I still don’t think it gets old the feeling I get when someone buys my jewellery. It’s so humbling to know that they admire something you have lovingly created with your own two hands. I love meeting every customer and having some come back for multiple pieces is always such a compliment.
When I first started, I loved meeting and selling to new customers, but also at the markets I attended, I would meet ‘admirers’ who although were not there to purchase, came past and admired my work and asked about it and offer kind words of encouragement in response to it. These people would still spend so much time at my stall looking and asking questions, they would also go away and share with others my name and my work. These interactions are always an honour, whether it is people by purchasing, admiring or encouraging.
Describe the kind of person who buys your products. Why do you think they love your business? How do they benefit from your products?
I noticed early that my clients were people looking for something unique and wanted to know lots about how each piece was made, to meet the maker and to hear the story and inspiration behind each piece. I learned from this that my relationship with customers was very important, that sharing my story and talking with them helped them connect to the jewellery.
Nothing has changed since then; I still try to spend time with each and every customer that comes along. Jewellery is a very personal accessory, when someone buys a piece it’s a big commitment and it’s worn almost daily, against the skin… I like to keep the experience of purchasing their special piece personal as well by spending time with customers, helping them choose and letting them into the process.
I’ve never had a specific age demographic to my customers, Instead I think they all share a creative spirit, whether they make themselves or just have a loving appreciation for the handmade. They are looking for the small difference and uniqueness in the products, and they completely embrace them.
Tell us three things that excite you about doing what you do.
I get to be creative every day.
I meet such amazing and lovely people. Sometimes, especially with customs, I get to be involved in some of their most precious and exciting moments in life. Like engagements and weddings.
I get to play with sparkly things, like diamonds and sapphires! Getting a stone delivery is like unwrapping presents on Christmas day!!
How do you keep your business fresh and exciting? Do you have any new, upcoming products in the works that you can tell us about?
I think I am lucky that my bespoke clients are always looking for something new, and to push the boundaries on existing designs; they keep me very busy but also keep my designs fresh and exciting. They keep me thinking about new things and ways to evolve.
Yes, for this trade fair especially! My jewellery has always been inspired by my local surroundings, in particular the Australian ocean and its flora and fauna. I am currently working on a new range that is inspired by a more Mediterranean coastline and style, a collection that still compliments my previous ocean creations. Jewellery with ancient style and traditional forms, designs which are romantic yet simple. Featuring coral shapes and textures, and marquis cut stones. Pieces designed to be layered and mix and match earrings, with a ‘more is better’ attitude to wearing and styling.
What energises and inspires you?
I am inspired by the organic, in particular the ocean and its landscape. I spent my childhood fossicking the beach regularly for shells and other jetsam treasures. So, to me the ocean has always offered me inspiration and unique treasures, and I am always drawn to it. By the objects, the textures and the colours.
Who is your biggest inspiration, and why?
There is no one person, but many. I am inspired by many Australian jewellers, because of the beautiful things they make, but also because of the successful businesses they have created from this passion. I can understand the hard work that goes into building a business, especially on products that are handcrafted. There is so much passion behind every jewellery artist, and I love seeing their new designs and new techniques and how others are pushing the making boundaries. All these people inspire me and keep me motivated. Their successes motivate me to work towards mine.
Where do you think your area of design is headed in 2021? Are there any design or business trends that you’ve identified? Have they affected the direction of your business?
Lately I feel more and more people are looking for unique and timeless pieces, quality pieces over fast fashion and as a result they are turning to hand crafted products. I have seen customers move more and more to gold and precious stone pieces. They see their purchase as very personal, as an investment, and as a forever piece. I have been trying to bring more gold into my ranges as a result of this shift and explore ways to offer a range of price points even though working with a more expensive material.
What advice would you give to someone who has a creative business idea?
I think it’s to trust your passion. If you are completely passionate about what you do and what you are creating; focus on sharing that with others. It helps them to believe in you and your product. And hopefully the sales follow from there.
It also sets you apart from so much of the rest of the consumer world out there. The passion and person behind the brand make purchasing your product an experience, and a personal one. I feel people are looking for that in their products and in their shopping experience.
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