Interview with Emma
Wild Fawn’s founder, Emma, has worked by herself for years turning her hand to all the making, modeling and admin involved in growing the business. Now she has several freelance and full-time team members all working towards the same goal: growing the brand and bringing wider awareness of sustainable ethics to the jewellery industry.
We took a minute to sit down and ask her some questions about herself, her brand and the role jewellery plays in all of our lives.
- Can you remember the first piece of jewellery you ever received? If so what was it?
I actually do remember, it was a gold ring from my grandma. I think I was about 7. It was one of those kids ones you can buy from Argos with the love heart and the little diamond in the middle. I couldn’t get over that I actually had a real diamond and felt so grown up (it was genuinely about the size of a pinhead though, not talking a massive rock) but I loved that ring so so much. Perhaps my love for jewellery started then!
- With your background in Anthropology why did you choose jewellery as opposed to clothing or ceramics etc.
Well I’d always loved drawing and making things so I think it was kind of inevitable that I’d go into something creative. Before I bought my first soldering kit, I was determined to start my own business and went through a phase of selling handmade makeup bags, but sewing always made me so frustrated when it went wrong so knew I had to start putting my energy into something that made me happy whilst I was making. I then had the idea of a bread making business, jam making business, vegetable growing business before I found what I loved in shaping and sculpting silver into a piece of jewellery that can last more than a lifetime. There’s something so rewarding about make something I know won’t go in and out of fashion and that can be really meaningful, especially if it’s a personalised gift or wedding bands.
- Can you remember the first piece of jewellery you ever created, if so what was it and why?
I do remember – it was a quartz pendant necklace just made using twisted wire. I made it because I saw one in a shop I really liked but they didn’t have the quartz gemstone, I think it was amethyst or something. So I just bought the chain, wire and gemstone that I liked and then made my own. It was so satisfying and about 1/5 of the price which was even better!
- How did you learn your Silversmithing skills?
When I was making gemstone jewellery, I knew that if I was going to make jewellery that was long lasting then I needed to start making in sterling silver and gold, I think I knew then that I wanted Wild Fawn to be sustainable and to avoid the trap of ‘fast fashion’. I asked for money one Christmas instead of gifts so I could buy a basic soldering kit. I started by making myself some simple pieces (after having done a LOT of research online) and then gradually just built my confidence to do more and more complex designs I remember the first time I turned on the soldering torch, I was petrified and went outside to do it because I thought it would blow up! It was a slow process but really organic and meant I could build Wild Fawn naturally as my skills got better. Now I have two benches with all sorts of tools I’ve bought throughout the years. I definitely want to keep learning though and would love to build my knowledge even more, I think silversmithing is a never-ending learning curve!
- Do you design for yourself or for your customers? Would you wear everything you make?
I definitely design for myself, I think that then makes the brand consistent too. A lot of my pieces are very delicate but I also like chunky jewellery too so I’m incorporating a little more chunky pieces into my new collections to mix it up a bit and keep it fresh.
- If a customer needed some advice, which piece is your go to gift?
When customers get in touch asking what I’d recommend, I always suggest a necklace or one of my adjustable rings. I think silver rings are a lovely gift because they can be worn all the time (I never take my rings off and I wear about 20 in total!). It is tricky to know someone’s ring size though which is why I offer quite a few adjustable ones online so they can be slightly opened or squeezed closed to fit.
- Why not offer plated options, and despite the price difference why do you think more people are starting to opt for solid gold over plated jewellery?
I make my jewellery in solid gold for a few reasons. When I buy gold, I know that it’s either recycled or Fairtrade where as with plating, I can’t be 100% sure that the gold they use is recycled. The process also involves chemicals which I try to minimise as much as possible. Another reason is that by making them in solid gold, it means that they can be made from start to finish in my studio without the need to send away for plating which makes my turnaround quicker and means I can have full control over the whole process.
Lastly, I feel it’s so nice to know that the gold is permanent and won’t eventually rub away. I have actually bought some lovely plated jewellery in the past from some other makers and the plating has been amazing so buying plated jewellery definitely isn’t out of the question and can be brilliant quality, but for me, the process is just much simpler when it’s made completely in my own studio.
- Are you a silver, gold or rose gold girl?
I’m all three! I genuinely wear all three metals at the same time – I don’t see why we should stick to one when they’re all such beautiful materials to work with and wear!
- You’re never fully dressed without…
A pendant necklace!
- Why is being a sustainable and transparent brand so important to you?
I think because I’ve built the brand up from being a hobby, I can see how genuinely easy it is to run a sustainable and transparent business if that’s what you truly want. Wild Fawn isn’t owned by shareholders who are only concerned with profits so I just love having the flexibility and freedom to keep pursuing more and more eco-friendly ways of making and selling, even if it does cost a little more. I think it’s also amazing that more customers are beginning to see how important it is to support small businesses and buying less, but better. I can see the movement just from my Instagram feed where I see other sustainable brands doing so well with so much support from their customers.
- What would be your 3 top tips for anyone wanting to be cleaner, greener and more eco-friendly in their lives?
I wouldn’t say I’m perfect and definitely can do more to be greener and cleaner! But there are a few things I do to try to help the environment.
1. I do my best to support small businesses (and check their websites to make sure they aren’t just appearing to be ethical)
2. Grow my own vegetables (great for mental wellbeing too!)
3. Not just making sure I recycle plastic but doing everything I can not to buy plastic in the first place (harder than it sounds and I definitely have a long way to go!).
- What has been the most rewarding part of Wild Fawn’s growth and how has it felt going from working on Wild Fawn part time from your home to having a studio and several people working for you?
It’s very surreal actually, I still can’t really get my head around it! It felt like such a leap when I first considered taking on someone to help with Wild Fawn. I was spending most of my days writing out addresses, stamping boxes with the logo and wrapping orders rather than actually working on the brand to help it grow and become more sustainable. Now there are 5 of us working on Wild Fawn, I couldn’t do it without the amazing women who come in to work (take a look at out team page if you want to read more about them and what they do in the company https://www.wildfawnjewellery.com/meet-our-team).
Moving into my studio definitely felt like my biggest achievement and I should have done it a lot sooner, it was amazing to have a space to grow into and be away from home so I felt like I actually went to work rather than living at work! I’d recommend anyone with a growing business to hire a space outside the home, it’s worth every penny!
- What are your next steps for the business ?
My future plans are to focus on being stocked in more shops around the UK so my customers can go and try the jewellery on in person. Also, I’m excited to begin working on a wedding band range. I already make so many custom wedding bands so I think more and more people are looking to buy eco-friendly and ethically made wedding jewellery which is amazing!