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Blog about living a life to nurture, cherish and create.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Welsh jewellery designer shares her inspiration

Personalised sterling silver earrings Elfen Hardd
Personalised sterling silver earrings
Welsh jewellery designer Ria Rees today shares with us how the Welsh countryside and the written word inspire her work. 

What is the name of your business? 
Elfen Hardd. This is the Welsh translation for "Beautiful Element". I'm inspired by all the elements around me - the interplay between water and rock, the geometric shapes on a cliffside, the pattern fire will leave on a piece of metal all of which I see around my home in rural South Wales. 
South Wales valleys
Ria's jewellery is inspired by the rolling hills of rural south Wales
How did you come to start your handmade business? 
My full time job as an Office Manager for the family business wasn't giving me enough of an outlet for my creativity. I was frustrated and had to find something else. This started through creating beaded jewellery, until I finally found out about stamped jewellery. I've always loved writing and the written word in general: words can give us hope, inspiration and comfort when we need it the most. The idea of creating jewellery which would allow people to carry this inspiration around with them was a huge Eureka moment for me. 
Copper Triple Heart Family Necklace Elfen Hardd
Copper triple heart family necklace
Where did you learn your craft? 
At the beginning, I relied heavily on internet tutorials. Now I'm more willing to experiment with new techniques and learn as I go along. 
Describe your workspace. 
I'm currently making orders at home, and trying to save up to convert one of the rooms in the house into a proper studio. It'll have storage and desks and drawers and lights and maybe even a little photography area. Sorry! I tend to get excited about the prospect of my own space! 
Elfen Hardd workshop
Ria's work bench
I know how you feel!

Who is your ideal customer?  
My products are currently aimed at particularly family-orientated and driven women. They hold their loved ones very close to their hearts, and want to carry them with them wherever they go. She feels a boost whenever she reads the first card her children wrote for her, the first letter to Santa, the Wedding Day stationary from so many years ago. Words are very closely tied to her family and the memories they have created together. 
What has been your most popular item?
My most popular item by far has been my Triple Heart Family Necklace. This is a cascade of three copper hearts, each inscribed with names that you hold dear. 
Where do you sell your creations? 
Elfen Hardd goldstone beads
Follow Elfen Hardd on Instagram
Currently I have a shop on Etsy which draws a fair amount of interest. I also sell via Facebook and local Craft Fairs. I have just started adding listings to my own website store, which I am incredibly excited about too! 
What is your favourite thing about running your own creative business? What do you find most difficult about it? 
My favourite thing about running
Elfen Hardd has to be the stories I've heard from customers. Battles fought (both won and lost) against illness, memories of loved ones, stories about kids misbehaving - it seems that making such personal items of jewellery automatically means that my customers feel like they can (and want to) share their stories with me. I feel truly honoured to be held in such confidences, and love to hear from all my customers, whenever they get in touch.

The most difficult part about it is switching off. I'll have nights where
I'll be laying in bed planning a collection, or stirring my coffee for five minutes whilst my brain wanders elsewhere. It can be really hard to focus on anything else - this is made doubly tricky by the fact that I still work with my family by day. Separating my job from my passion is hard. One day I hope that I'll be able to focus on Elfen Hardd full time, and leave the humdrum behind. 
What family do you have? What role do they play in your business? 
I have a husband and 3 year old daughter who keep me busy outside of my other responsibilities! I'm a very family-centred sort of girl, so I think that has shaped the way I look at Elfen Hardd - I'm making items that I love, in the hope that there are others out there just like me, who want to keep memories, people, and words close to their heart during their day. 
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to make a living from their
art or craft? 
Ria Rees
Ria Rees
Take your time. Don't rush into things thinking
that it will all be a doddle to set up and run - work out what your goals
are first, and then take some time to figure out how you plan to achieve
them. There's no use in making one bracelet one day and then suddenly
thinking - "Hey! This is awesome! I could sooo make a business out of this!" Check out the market, find out what makes your product different. If there is nothing, make something. There is a place for everyone out there, an opportunity waiting to be taken. But simply stepping out in to the world and yelling the same thing as everyone around you is not going to help you to stand out from the crowd! Thank you, Ria. Those are wise words!

Ria is kindly offering readers 10% off in her etsy store for the next two weeks if they use the code ELSIEB10.

Find Elfen Hardd on etsy,twitter, facebook, pinterest and instagram.

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  1. This is so interesting! I'd loved reading about Ria's inspiration and the even deeper meaning behind the jewelry she makes. I'm finding out about more and more artists who are inspired by nature the way I am. Thanks for having this artist interview, Lucy. It was great to read!