I met Emma a few years ago at a London Local Etsy Team meeting in the garden of The Chelsea Arts Club. She was wearing her own jewellery and I loved the simplicity and quality of her designs. Her focus on detail in her work and its presentation along with her dedication to creating lovely eco-friendly products have led to her success as a small business. Emma has since left her job to pursue Wild Fawn full time. She’s now expanding both her product range and her market, now looking to build relationships with potential stockists in Europe. It’s been an inspiration to follow her story the past few years, see her beautiful, minimalist aesthetic in my Instagram feed and buy a couple of her pieces as gifts. Below, she made time to squeeze in an interview for us.
Little Observationist: Give us your tweet-sized elevator pitch. What’s your business all about?
Emma Barnes: Wild Fawn is an eco brand with a focus on wearable, minimal designs made from recycled sterling silver. Each piece is unique and handmade in my London studio.
LO: Now tell us more: What sets you apart from your competition?
EB: Wherever possible, I use eco friendly sterling silver as opposed to normal sterling silver. That means that the silver is 100% recycled and doesn’t create any negative impacts on the environment from mining. I think it’s really important that we know as much as possible about what we wear and where it comes from so I’m on a mission to increase awareness about eco silver! I also make each piece by hand, so no two items are the same.
LO: Share a bit of background about yourself and your business.
EB: I’ve always loved to make, draw and paint so doing something creative like making jewellery for a living was always my dream; but it does feel so surreal that it’s now a reality! I moved to London after uni and had a full time job doing statistics. I started doing jewellery as a hobby and a creative outlet in the evenings. I sold a few bits to friends and gradually realised that making jewellery was something that I really enjoyed but could also make me money. I loved it so much that I saved up and bought my first soldering kit. It was a really organic process for me from using simple techniques to teaching myself more and more. I eventually left my statistics job in 2015 and started making jewellery full time. It’s definitely the bravest decision I’ve ever made – but I haven’t looked back!
LO: Which social media platforms do you use for your business? Has this been time well-invested? Any tips for newcomers?
EB: I use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but some I use more than others. My favourite by far is Instagram and I think that it’s great as a platform for creative brands because you can show your customers very quickly the whole creative process from start to finish. One tip I would give to new starters is to stick with a colour theme from the offset; at the beginning I just used photos that I liked but since I’ve thought about the overall look of the Wild Fawn feed, I’ve noticed that I get a lot more interaction on my posts. I also really love to use Instagram for myself to stay updated about other independent brands that I love. I’m very nosey and love the behind the scenes shots!
LO: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given that still resonates with you today? And your favourite resources for small business?
EB: I can’t really remember a single piece of advice, but my friends and family have been so positive throughout the whole journey and that positive attitude has stayed with me. It’s meant that I’ve never been scared to take the next step and have been encouraged to push myself. I do listen to some podcasts whilst I’m working like Elise Joy, but I love listening to audio books too whether they’re business-related or fiction. It’s nice to be able to work but also escape into a book at the same time!
LO: What have been your biggest challenges and greatest rewards as a small business owner?
EB: The biggest challenge for me is the paperwork and admin side of the business. As Wild Fawn has grown, it means that I’ve had to spend more time replying to emails and doing my accounts, which is ironic because the growth also means I have more making to do…so it’s really difficult to manage to have a healthy balance!
LO: What are your hopes for your business going forward: what would you most love to achieve as a short term goal? And long term?
EB: In the long term, I would love to be able to travel whilst still working on Wild Fawn. It would be amazing to be able to take my kit to different countries so I can work and travel at the same time. I’m not sure how do-able it would be, but it’s something I always think about!
LO: Little Observationist is all about appreciating life’s little luxuries. Name three you’ve enjoyed recently.
1.) A gym membership. Some wouldn’t call it luxurious, but it means I can break up the day with pilates and yoga classes and that’s a luxury to me!
2.) Working with my hands all day and constantly having to wash them means that my nails and hands are not a pretty sight. Last week I treated myself to a manicure so I wouldn’t be so self conscious about them. Needless to say, one day working at the bench and they’re back to their old selves!
3.) On my wish list is a kitchen-aid. My dream is to be able to make bread without having to knead as I’m so impatient, I never do it for long enough so it doesn’t rise!
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