how to start your own jewellery label by... lucy folk

Keen to start your own creative business but unsure how to proceed? From designers and stylists, to photographers and boutique owners, we're asking i-D friends and family how they made their dreams a reality.

by Briony Wright
12 December 2016, 12:35am

Lucy Folk is a young designer who's spent the past ten years building a colourful universe of bright ideas through her covetable collections of quirky precious jewellery, sunnies and clutches. Originally known for her food-inspired ranges which incorporated all our favourite carbs — pasta, corn chips, rice and pretzels — into beautiful necklaces, rings and bracelets, Lucy has continued to develop her craft with jewels that are as fun as they are fancy. She deftly combines diamonds and pill-shaped pearls with sculpted gold, silver and colourful mesh in unexpected designs that convey her talent and personality. 

Lucy has worked hard to get where she is today. After studying jewellery design at RMIT, she had a stint working with multi-disciplinary European art crew Chicks on Speed before returning to Australia to open her own store. Although based in Melbourne, Lucy spends almost half her year travelling and working overseas, evidently nailing the perfect life/work balance. Her Instagram is all exotic sun drenched locations, famous bloggers and grateful celebs repping her wares and behind the scenes glimpses into the regular shoots and short films she co-ordinates for the brand. Everything about it points to the brand being a labour of love, and here Lucy invites us into her world to share some wisdom for anyone keen to embark on their own journey.

What I do and why I do it...
I'm a jewellery and accessories designer who thoroughly enjoys life and makes the most of every minute on earth. It's my passion to design and create, and I'm surrounded by the most incredible team that I love. They work above and beyond, so it's a joy for me to go to work everyday.

I come from a family of creatives, we revel in making things. It's what makes me me. I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to wear something I've created myself, and jewellery is the ultimate luxury item to me. Working with precious metals and the finest materials on the planet is an indulgence that I adore. To me, what's most important is to create something original that is inspired by my loves in life, to have brand integrity, and stay true to myself and my vision.

A day in my life...
It starts early. I roll out of bed and head to Pilates, or do some form of exercise. I really need to ensure I am balanced, because days can start early and end late. Mornings are my time, just me. This keeps me sane. If I don't do Pilates, I'll go for a walk along the beach. I'm excited for summer when I can swim before work and after work!

After I've done some exercise I race home, meditate, make a smoothie, load up on my vitamins, make some phone calls and — after much deliberation on what to wear — I head to the office in Sydney or my HQ in Melbourne depending where I am. I usually arrive at work around 10am. Next I touch base with my General Manager and go through all aspects of the work day, and the week ahead. It's all about staying true to the timeline. That's what ensures the business runs like a well oiled machine.

I liaise with my team on all things: design, creative, marketing, sales, production, logistics etc. Truly, so much! If we are designing, I work with Craig my master jeweller. We go through sketches, draw things on the computer, look at stones and he makes samples in metal. I'm always busy thinking about displays for the collection when we showcase it in Paris, and the new shop fit out for our Bondi store. I figure out the colour palette for the season, work on the MAP (Merchandise Assortment Plan) and then I answer emails.

Around one, I have a bite of lunch out of the office. I think it's important to take time to enjoy this time of the day — that's the European in me talking! Finally I leave work by 6pm and head out for dinner with friends or call it a night. Often, I have to work with Europe so I tend to answer emails until all hours.

The moment that made me...
I am not made, but the moment that made me feel content with myself and my business was when I stopped caring what other people thought and focused on creating an original product.

It certainly takes time to build a brand. Next year it'll be 10 years since I started. I can't quite believe it. The older the business grows the less I seem to worry about the small stuff and focus on building a business with an unbelievable team. I keep challenging myself creatively and ensure that our product selection is playful but classic, with a twist.

To degree or not to degree, that is the question...
I think study is very important; it's where you make a network of fellow creatives. You learn from each other and establish friendships that are key to your growth. I was lucky enough to be taught by some influential jewellers who inspired me to take risks and encouraged me to push the limits with my design. Melbourne is a great place to study jewellery; there are some great institutions that have highly regarded courses. RMIT, Monash, NMIT and Box Hill Tafe for example — there are a lot of options. Personally, if I had my time over I would have studied at NMIT and gone on to RMIT. I was only 18 when I began my course at RMIT and was naive and shy. I didn't ask enough questions!

What I wish I knew then that I know now...
Patience is key. Stay true to yourself and be guided but don't compromise what is true to you. Listen and learn. Know what your strengths are and work with people who compliment you and can offer skills that you don't have. It's all about the team.

I'm excited by tomorrow because…
My friends are getting married in Venice, it's going to be fabulous! I have lent the bride our Pulling Shapes hoop earrings and a Fishing for Diamonds earring to wear for the wedding. 

I'm on the road for about four months of the year. This travel is integral to my creativity and makes me more connected with the industry in Europe and America. I have great friends that I don't get to catch up with frequently so it's a nice opportunity to meet and inspire one another.

I make at least one film a year with a group of friends, which is always a lot of fun. The bride happened to star in the last film. What I love about these films is that you work intimately with the crew and end up forging strong bonds and friendships with like-minded people all over the world. It's very satisfying! Wait till you see the film we shot in Formentera that comes out in February!



Text Lucy Folk

lucy folk