From a small workshop on a quiet Birmingham street, a young entrepreneur weaves her way into the global jewelry market, spurred by a love and fascination with her macabre Gothic designs.
Jo Herriotts started her company Hellcat in 2014, but has found herself so busy since the start of the pandemic that she was able to run her own dedicated workshop in the jewelry district and hire help.
She says she saw a huge spike of couples asking for her gothic engagements and wedding rings as couples underwent ‘make or break’ household arrangements after mass homework began.
The 32-year-old is now looking to the future and hopes to win more bespoke orders for her rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets, as well as one day opening her own boutique.
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She told BusinessLive: “I think the lockdown was decisive for a lot of relationships. Because it was such a pressure cooker, people realized that this is the person I want to spend the rest of my time with. life or that it is time to separate.
“A lot of people also had higher disposable income as a result of the foreclosure, so they figured it was time to get their rings back and start planning a wedding.
“The pandemic hasn’t affected me negatively, but I know other jewelers who don’t have the same online presence as me.
“In the first month, it didn’t feel good when everyone got locked in, but once that was all sorted out, it went from strength to strength.
“At that time, I was sharing a unit elsewhere in the jewelry district, so we had to go on separate days due to social distancing.
“Orders were increasing so much that I had to move because I had to be there every day. Income is never guaranteed, but I looked at the finances of the business and knew I could afford the move.
Ms. Herriotts is a heavy metal music fan who inspires her designs of Gothic pieces, including skulls, crosses and gems, as well as commemorative jewelry wrapped around the ashes or hair of lost loved ones.
An avowed geek who learned to build websites as a teenager, she is dyslexic and therefore was drawn to the Birmingham School of Jewelery National Diploma Course due to its strong focus on hands-on learning rather than written courses.
After graduating, she took a program called Design Space which taught her the skills to start her own business.
She took the plunge seven years ago and started Hellcat, but she still had to spend her working days at a bar in the evenings to make ends meet as she built the business, even if that meant she has never hired external funding to run the business.
“I think back to when I started the business and now I feel like it was a real business, but I didn’t think about it at all at the time,” she said.
“I grew up with a supportive mother who always told me that I could do whatever I wanted and that she would believe in me. From a young age, I always knew that I would never work for anyone else and that I would be myself. employee.
“I didn’t know how or what I would do, but I knew the idea of having a boss was something I could even imagine.
“I was creative from a young age and I was also surrounded by strong creative women, both in my mother and in my grandmother, and I had always loved design and technology in school.
Ms. Herriotts is involved in all aspects of the job, including jewelry design and making, as well as photography for her website and social media.
It is sold through the company’s website and Etsy online retail portal and it receives orders from the UK and around the world.
She said her long-term hope is to get more bespoke one-off orders, an aspect of the job she particularly enjoys, to collaborate more with other small businesses and maybe even open her own store. One day.
“There aren’t a lot of other jewelers in the UK doing this style, it’s quite unique,” she concluded.
“My attitude is ‘Imagine every piece is for you’ and so I always want to create the best piece possible for everyone.
“It was reassuring to know that I am doing something that people love. Because I’m more of a niche, I wonder if people will accept me and my designs. I think if a business can survive a pandemic and fight back, it can resist. whatever.”