Imagine we don’t’ know anything about it… can you describe your profession? My profession is based in luxury goods and high-end, high-quality work. Making cutlery from silver using hammers and heat to move metal to create beautiful, functional forms. Using mixed media within my work, with naturally grown wood to create the handles of my work. Exhibiting and showcasing my work is just as important as making my work. Without one, the other cannot be.
What materials do you use? Silver (Fine /Britannia Sterling) Locally Sourced Wood (Holly)
Who is you “ideal client’s profile? My ideal client is someone who has appreciation for silver and bespoke handmade objects. My main selling point is giftware, and has a high appeal to those with an expendable income. Having clients in the UK, the USA, Europe and Australia, the main dominator between them is passion for food and the finer things in life.
You chose to be a craftsman. How did this decision appear to be an evidence to you? I have always had a passion for making, from textiles to ceramics. I started making jewellery during my gap year and found it wholly enjoyable and decided to consider taking it further. When considering what I wanted to do, and where my passions lay, the answer seemed so clear. This is not to say that I have not questioned this decision along the journey. There is no where I would rather be than in my workshop, hammer in hand and a piece of silver on the anvil. Had you asked me 10 years ago what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, ‘a Silversmith’ would not have been the answer, the answer would have been ‘a Creative’.
Would you define your job a passion? What is the best moment you had in your job? My work is my passion. From making to business planning, I love every element of what I do. Not that it is without its stresses, as my profession is very much who I am and can be difficult not to make it personal. The best moments within my job is receiving recognition and appreciation for what I do. Whether that be getting accepted into Goldsmiths Fair, or being awarded the ‘Best New Talent’ to being nominated for awards and getting approached for publications and opportunities. Each time that these experiences happen, the feeling of acknowledgement and appreciation is unsurmountable. Meeting people from other disciplines and other countries who know my work and recognise me within my field reminds me that what I do has an impact on others. Having people approach me for advice and information shows me that I have a standing within my peers.
What role do “talent”, “know-how” and “creativity” play in your profession? Talent: To be able to be successful in the market for silverware, you need to have talent and integrity. With a high amount of competition and a limited pool of collectors, it is your talent and aptitude that increases your standing in the market. Having a high standard and an eye for detail are key elements to being successful.
Know-How: Understanding the materials is crucial to my work being effective. Having a strong network of makers and business mentors means I have a wealth of information that benefits me and my business. This network is crucial to both sides, providing information and know-how to myself, and allowing me to share information to people within my network. Becoming aware of opportunities and resources that are available comes through the networks that you create. Knowing current trends, and being aware of what other makers are doing is critical, as this will dictate the next design, the next show or the next sale you may have.
Creativity: Without creativity my business would not bloom. Needing inspiration to create new pieces, this all comes from the spark that is creativity. This does not just reflect on the making element of the business. It also links into branding; business development and your social media presence. Requiring a flair for originality and imagination to be able to catch people’s attention, having a creative approach is essential.
And what about innovation, what are the changes since you started? Do you use new materials, tools, processes, marketing? What’s the impact of innovation on your performances? How could your
profession be more innovative?
Since I began studying in 2009, my approach has developed and improved. My major turning point for my brand was on my postgraduate course at Bishopsland. Not only developing my work, also learning about the workings of business and what is required to be successful. My marketing is continually being refined and the key to approaching a diverse network / client base is being variable and malleable to the current marketplace. Learning about new ways of promoting myself, and seeking opportunities that support this is something that is a constant.
Looking to expand my knowledge and skill base, I aim to design and make a new range of steel cutlery. Learning about new processes and techniques is how I bring innovation into my work. Educating myself about how things work and why they are made the way they are is a key source of inspiration and motivation towards developing my work and my business.
Where and how long did you train before you were ready for creating your business? Imagine that you want to invite young generations to choose your profession, what would be your message to them? I trained at Buckinghamshire New University on a BA (Hons) Silversmithing, Metalwork and Jewellery course, it was in my third year that I decided I wanted to participate in further training at Bishopsland Educational Trust and it was here I solidified my brand and my style of work. Since then I have received mentoring and business advice from various sources. A lot of courses at Universities are being shut down, and the course at Bucks no longer exists.
I would advise the ‘young generation’ to seek apprenticeships over degrees, as you get hands on experience from master craftsmen without the fees that go with University.
I hold courses in Bristol, from weekend workshops to evening classes. Aimed at beginners and intermediate makers. These workshops are also aimed at groups such as: hen parties; birthday parties and friends who just want to experience something together and learn a new skill.
In Conclusion, describe a meaningful experience or a personal reflection that you would like to share with us and explain why. The biggest hurdle in starting up a business is continuous need to believe in yourself. There will be highs and lows, and moments where you question why you are doing what you are doing. Then every so often, you have an experience that makes the struggle worthwhile. Taking opportunities that are daunting and intimidating are all part of the job, and whilst being the most nerve-wracking, it is also the most rewarding when your efforts are fruitful and recognised.
Having had experiences like this myself, submitting applications for opportunities, unsure of the outcome and then being rewarded for your courage to enter. Travelling to Berlin after being rewarded a New Talent stand at the DMY International Design Festival was one of these moments. Not only had I applied and been successful, I then had to travel alone to another country, to represent my work. This itself, was a major achievement for me. The experience of being there was extraordinary enough. To then receive the Best New Talent Award from prestigious and recognised individuals was another merit altogether.
Even when applications are unsuccessful, one of the hardest things to do is accept that it wasn’t for you this time. To then pick yourself up and continue is all part of the game. To have the confidence to tackle it again when the opportunity re-arises itself, and to then succeed is a feeling that cannot be replaced.
To know more about Charlotte Anne Duckworth see her profile