Meet the Artisan: Elm Jewellery
Meet our youngest artisan, Alexia Nel. Creatress behind Elm Jewellery. A brand that started with an afternoon of creativity fuelled with a new love for the process of designing vibrant jewellery. Here is Alexia’s story of how Elm came to be and where its going:
Can you tell us a little about the history of your brand? How did it get started, and what motivated you to create it?
Elm Jewellery started about 2 years ago, I was fresh out of school and still unsure of what career I should pursue. However, I did know that I've always loved art and being creative. One afternoon, in early 2021, I was sitting in my room with a few beads I had collected and some wire from a previous project. I started fiddling and created two little beaded wire rings. I immediately took an interest in the process and I posted something on my instagram story to see if anyone would be interested, if i started selling rings. I received such great feedback from everyone and shortly after that I started my little business. From then onwards, designing and creating jewellery has become a great passion of mine.
What inspires your brand and your designs? Are there any particular influences or themes that you draw upon in your work?
There is no particular theme I draw from, I just love experimenting and if a combination doesn't work I change it up and try something new. I really enjoy working with fun, vibrant colours and bold beads. I receive a lot of custom orders and it's always so interesting to see everyone's unique taste in colours and patterns.
What are some of the challenges you've faced as a local South African brand, and how have you overcome them?
One of the main challenges I've faced as a local artist would be sourcing materials, I’ve realised that Durban can be quite limited when it comes to sourcing things locally. However, as a small business owner you meet a lot of different people and you make a lot of connections. I think that really helps when it comes to finding new places to buy materials.
Can you tell us about some of the materials and techniques you use in your designs? How do you choose the materials you work with?
As I mentioned before, I love colour, so I usually go for colourful and bold beads. Some of the pieces I make are very quirky and fun, but a lot of my work is inspired by nature. Colours like, greens, blues, reds, whites and more. I taught myself different techniques through lots of trial and error, as well as watching a few tutorials.
How do you approach sustainability and ethical practices in your brand? Are there any initiatives or practices you've implemented to reduce your environmental impact?
When first starting my business, I always thought about how I can be more sustainable and not waste. As the business started to grow I found that I love thrifting beads from local charity shops. Turning these beads into something new and giving them a new life. I've had many beads and materials donated to me over the last year. More recently I've started making my own packaging, the sweetest little drawstring bags out of recycled material, I absolutely love creating everything, taking extra care with every detail.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories or anecdotes about your brand or your products?
I've always been the photographer and done all the behind the scenes. I especially love doing my photoshoots in nature, it's where I draw most of my ideas from and I love implementing different elements into the photos. I love how exciting it is to look at my work and edit the photos before I upload them. One of my favourite shoots I’ve done was with my best friend.I’m the biggest animal lover so we included her dogs too. It was the funniest shoot getting the dogs to pose with pretty jewels on… there were, of course, lots of treats and cuddles involved. Definitely one of my fondest memories.
What do you hope customers will experience or feel when they interact with your brand and products?
I wish all my customers to feel beautiful when wearing a piece from Elm jewellery. I believe every unique piece allows a bit of your personality to shine. I really love bumping into someone or seeing a friend wearing one of my pieces. It makes me so happy to know that a piece which I’ve made by hand, makes someone else feel confident and special when they wear it.
How do you see your brand evolving in the future? Are there any new projects or collaborations in the works?
This is an exciting one! My little business has already started evolving from beading to working with sterling silver. This was a big change for me but I've loved every minute and seeing my little business grow has been so exciting, I can't wait to see where it takes me. I'm currently creating a gorgeous collection of sea glass rings, as well as cowrie shell rings and some simple bands. Also in the works is a website for all my sterling silver pieces.
What advice would you give to other local South African brands looking to succeed in the industry? OR What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their own brand or business?
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs would be, don't be afraid to start. Everyone has to start somewhere and you learn so much as you go. Most importantly, take every opportunity you get because you don't know where it could lead you. Advertising is so so important, I've had so many new followers (on instagram) and opportunities through social media or word of mouth or carrying around a business card.
Finally, Can you share with us some of your favorite products or collections that you have created, and why they are special to you?
One of my favourite beaded collections were funky, vibrant necklaces I sent off to Rock Paper Scissors. They were a huge hit and I received such amazing feedback from my sweet customers. I really enjoyed the process of making the whole collection, mixing colourful beads together and just knowing they were going somewhere special. I’m so proud of and love all of my new sterling silver pieces. They are so special to me because it shows how much my business has grown and how far I’ve come.
Image via Rock Paper Scissors , Instagram , rockpaperscissors_shop
Alexia’s beaded necklaces are one of our most popular products in the shop. Her jewellery will be added to the online shop very soon, but if you cant wait to get your hands on some of her stunning pieces then pop us a visit, we’ve just unboxed a whole bunch of her new stock!