I have been a jewellery designer and the proud owner of my very own business now for 7 years. The first few years were great. People really seemed to love my photo etched designs and the striking black a gold finish thought out my debut collection 'Framed'. I look back now and as much as I loved creating it it was a little style over substance. I mean it looked great and it drew in much admiration but for me the stories behind some of the pieces just weren't powerful enough and lacked meaning. This was important for me to realise because I was trying to convey a story. Moments in time that were originally inspired by the reflections in windows on my travels. But I think the reason the story didn't quite make sense was because the images weren't really reflective of me and my experiences. They were just a mixture of abstract images I thought people would like. Still I had a concept and look that was new and endearing which drew people in and that felt great.
Over the years you develop and grow as a designer maker as you begin to understand your customers and their needs. But to stand out in the jewellery world you have to have a recognisable style that sets your work apart from other designers. Back then I didn't know it yet but I had to find out how to express myself before I could really connect with others.
It's taken me a long time to find the words to say what I am about to, so please bare with me as it is hard to keep it short. Not many people know this aside from family and close friends but in 2011 I reached a turning point. When in one devastating moment everything changed and the importance of the little things in life really came into focus. On 28th August 2011 my family lost a 15 year old boy. A son, a brother, a grandchild, a nephew, my cousin.
That summer we had all decided to go on a family holiday to North Devon, a place we all loved. A place that has and always will have a very special place in my heart. A place that my grandmother went to year on year when she was little, followed by my dad and then me. As a little girl I would spend hours searching and collecting tiny little shells in the sand. We would go every year throughout my childhood but we hadn't been there in years. I honestly don't know why we all stopped. But in 2011, we decided to go back as a family. Me, my mum, dad, grandmother, granddad, two aunts, two uncles, four cousins and two of their partners. I was only there for a few days as I had been working during the week. The day we arrived we all crammed into one caravan where we talked and chuckled all evening. And there it is, that moment, that's it, that's one of them. Simple, but so meaningful.
The next day was the day that would devastate my entire family. We were all out together on the beach, some playing football or at least we started to. Personally I'm not a massive fan of football. I don't usually watch it or have any desire to play it but I can't tell you how much I wish I could have continued that game with my beloved cousin and family. Moments into the game my cousin collapsed and we all watched on in sheer shock as the RNLI and an off duty fire fighter rushed in to help us. They were all so amazing and we were so grateful for all their help but after that moment on that beach sadly I didn't get to see my lovely little cousin again.
The following day we went back to the beach. We tied some flowers onto the the life guard hut and all walked together to the sea and back. Every year we go back and do the same thing. My cousin usually writes a poem that makes everyone chuckle and cry. You may think we are crazy for going back there. But to me it means so much to be there with my family. To appreciate even the simplest of moments with them. And whatever you believe, it makes me feel spiritually closer to my cousin who is no longer there in physical form to share it with us.
This young boy has impacted on my life more than I could have ever imagined. When I was his age I was told that school days would be the best days of my life and I should enjoy every moment. I always tried to do just this and he did too. Over the years I tried to make sure I enjoyed those simple moments and appreciated what I had in life and not what I didn't. But he opened my eyes a little wider to the world, life and the most important things in it. No longer do I just think it, I feel it. I believe in cherishing those moments more than ever. No matter how big or small. Taking time to appreciate them and just how lucky I am to have these wonderful people in my life. This has lead me to create an ongoing collection of jewellery that celebrates those precious moments that we all share together.
First came the shells as I began to make keepsakes that I knew would hold meaning to my family. And from there it began. Using the images to create precious items that would evoke the fondest of memories. Not just mine or my families, but within everyone who is blessed to share these moments with their beloved family and friends. From there on year on year the collection has grown as I add more cherished moments to the collection. I have the great honor of hand making pieces that will have a deeper meaning for each individual. An amazing feeling and something I am so thankful to be part of.
It has to be said I learnt a life lesson from my young cousin. At just 15 he was never afraid to be himself and have his voice heard by others. To stand up for himself and the things he believed in. To truly appreciate life and those around him. I think a little bit of him lives on in me, the things I do and the decisions I make. I feel like the more I share with you the stronger I feel as a person and as a business. So here I am sharing my story of pain, love and growth. Maybe now that you know my story it all makes a little more sense. Why a girl of 28 is so passionate about sentiment and has been for the last five years. A week before one of most important trade shows of the year I am putting down my jewellers tools and heading to be where I should be. In one weeks time it will be back to business as usual but for now I am off to one of the most important places with some of the most important people in my life.
My message to you: Always make sure you cherish every little moment, no matter how big or small. Stop and smell the roses and take a deep of fresh air. Smile at the people, thoughts and memories of those you hold dear. And live each moment, like it could be your last.
In memory of James Lowe.