Mentor Masterclass: Amy Elson, Chambers & Beau
In this series of blogs, we’ll be chatting to leading figures in the fashion industry about their jobs and their style must-haves. This time, we caught up with jewellery designer Amy Elson of Chambers and Beau about juggling her accessories empire with a family and why slippers are the new black.
How did you become a jewellery designer?
I studied for a degree in jewellery design and then went on to become a designer for various commercial jewellery brands. Once I had my children, the juggle of travelling from Devon up to London to consult and design became too much so I decided to go it alone.
What would you say are the most important skills for a jewellery designer to have?
The technical skills are of course important and there are loads of courses now that you can go on to learn – you don’t always need a degree. To me, though, the most important thing is having an eye for what will work commercially, if you want to go down a commercial route rather than a more artistic route. Knowing your customer really well is key and remember to design for them rather than yourself. As it turns out, my customer is rather like me so it’s a win/win!
Which parts of your job are the most challenging and which are the most rewarding?
The most challenging bit is the juggling act of running a home, being a mum and work – the usual juggle that a lot of us face. It’s so much easier now that I work for myself and has massive rewards – now I can always do the school run and make sure I’m at all the kids’ important events like nativity plays, etc. It’s also really rewarding to know that my jewellery can mean so much to people. I receive lots of gorgeous messages from my customers telling me the stories behind their purchases and what it means to them, and they make my day. Sometimes they purchase it in memory of someone, or to represent a special occasion, or sometimes it’s just a gentle reminder of their affirmations – I love hearing all the stories people have.
Would you say your working wardrobe has changed since starting up your business?
No, my wardrobe hasn’t changed at all. When I designed for other companies I was often working from home anyway. Its jeans all the way for me!
How would you describe your style?
It’s laid back, nothing too fancy. I’m a jeans and trainers person. I’m always cold so am often wrapped up in something cosy.
What are the items in your wardrobe that you couldn’t live without and why?
Jeans and trainers (obvs.) and I have a ton of long sleeved white Tshirts that I wear under everything. I hate the bottom of my back getting cold so I always tuck them in. (Does that sound middle aged?!) I have a thing for ankle boots in the winter and I’m a bit of a sucker for a (faux) fur coat in the winter.
Where do you shop?
I like Mango, Zara, Gap, H&M, Andotherstories and Cos, but really I shop on Instagram. I live in Devon, where there aren’t a great deal of shopping options and I can’t be arsed to trawl the internet so I see what other people are wearing and buy that way instead. Lazy, but it works for me!
What’s the best piece of style advice you’ve ever been given?
When trying something new on, if it doesn’t look better than what you are already wearing or already have DO NOT BUY!
Do you have a mentor you turn to for career advice?
I belong to a couple of social media groups for women who run their own small businesses. They are always there with advice and they’re a great sounding board. Sometimes working on your own is hard as there is no one there to bounce ideas off of.
What hopes do you have for the future with your business and your career generally?
I am not hugely ambitious. If Chambers & Beau continues to grow each year that would be fabulous. I’m massively busy on key occasions like Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. so it might be nice if the peaks weren’t so giant compared to the rest of the year, but I guess that goes with the territory of producing items people want to buy as gifts. Self-purchase (where people buy items as a treat for themselves) is becoming a much bigger market, so I hope this continues to grow.
What tips would you give to aspiring jewellery designers/business women in terms of how to dress for the job they want?
For me, it’s all about comfort. Nothing else really matters. I do quite a lot of photography and video for social media so to a certain degree it’s important that I look presentable, but quite often if you see me on Instagram stories looking all smart on top, I am slobbing about in joggers and slippers down below – I just keep the camera on the top half so you can’t tell!
Love Amy’s jewellery? Check out her website chambersandbeau.com.
Considering a new career? The Image Consulting Company offers a personal stylist training course, where you’ll learn everything you need to know to start your journey to styling success. The next course begins in September but places are limited – enquire for details.