The other night someone asked me what I did.
‘I own a jewellery business’ I told them
‘oh, someone told me you were a teacher’ they responded
‘Oh..yes I was, I still am (once a teacher always a teacher) but I now have started a jewellery business, starting a jewellery business, trying to build a brand that cele……….’
And suddenly I felt quite lost in my words, almost apologetic with what I did with my life and why I was now doing what I was doing and so I thought I would write it down.
My name is Sophie, I am a mother of two, a wife of one. I spent much of my younger life living and moving overseas, the term people might define now as a ‘third culture kid’ and after university I trained as a teacher. I studied Theatre at university and went on to do a post grad in education and I taught theatre in a number of schools both in the UK and overseas. I loved teaching. I love theatre. I was good at my job. I was confident at taking risks, starting new initiatives, leading young people through exams, assessing, writing curriculum units, year planning, examining students through various governing bodies and being a practitioner of my skill. I directed shows with casts of over 100, wrote whole school musicals from scratch and produced devised performances in 30 mins. I got a buzz from teaching, from being in the moment, exploring theatre and from seeing young people take an idea and break it and make it into something impactful and meaningful that left them feeling they could achieve pretty much anything. If any of you have ever taught or worked in a creative environment, you will know this feeling.
Then one day I felt differently about my job. I don’t think it was an overnight thing. It was a gradual, bubbling under the surface kind of thing. In the proceeding years I had brought two small people into the world and my priorities shifted. I started questioning whether I wanted to teach for the rest of my working life. Was this it? Now, teaching is an incredible job and here is the bitter sweet of it all, I love teaching. I truly love it. However I wanted to know if I would truly love something else. Perhaps you have felt this way?
Then one day
I had some jewellery made. To recap, I was living in India at this moment. We had been living in Delhi for at least 6 years by this point. I was a pretty frequent visitor to Jaipur and I had my favourite gemstone haunts. It was my little hobby, I have always been a collector of gemstones and have held a little light for gemstone jewellery since I was given my first amethyst necklace when I was 12. I was now at a time in my life where I was becoming frequently aware of my relationships with my family. I was a fully fledged mother by this point, building connections with my own children, making memories and it made me think of my connections with the other women in my life, in my children’s life. My mother and my mother in law were in the UK, my sister was in Singapore, my sister in law was moving to Oman, we were all over the place and catching up via facetime, checking the time difference, it was just so much! My sister in Singapore had just had twins and there was so much going on and in places so far away. I wanted to connect with everyone all the of time and I couldn’t. So I thought I would send some jewellery to the women I loved, a little keepsake, small and unique, a little way of connecting us despite the distance between us. I looked for pieces. I had a real vision for the kind of item I wanted. India is the capital of jewellery and you will be inundated with jewellery wherever you go but it was often big, brash and expensive and did not have the appeal I was looking for. Eventually on a trip to Jaipur and clutching some sketches of pieces I had drawn someone said to me,
‘why don’t you just get them made’
So I did. I had a little collection made in silver with the rose quartz stone.
Delicately simple and yet unique enough to be a beautiful gift, a piece of jewellery that celebrated our connection. My daughter wore the baby bangle, my sister wears the charm and now her daughter has the baby bangle also. The design is similar and yet unique to recognise and celebrate who they are. Friends saw my pieces and asked where they were from. I explained why I had them made and they asked if they could have some pieces made for them and so forth. Eventually I was holding little jewellery parties in our house on weekends and returning to work on the Monday to teach. My little collection grew larger and my love for teaching began to transfer onto the jewellery. A transition from my career into a passionate hobby.
Move to London
We knew we wanted to move back. We always said we would know when it would be time. We hit that point in 2015 when the air pollution in Delhi had become catastrophic. We were concerned for the health of our children and we knew staying was no longer an option for us. We missed our families and our children were at an age where the special moments were so important to everyone in our family, not just my husband and I. So I handed in my notice, my husband made appropriate changes to his business so he could work from his London office and we packed up and moved back. Our son Jay was already of school age but our daughter Esme was still young, nearly 3 and I knew I wanted to claw back some of the time I had missed with both my children when I had to return to work after only 12 weeks of maternity leave in India. I was growing passionately more vocal about my now named business ‘EsmeLoves‘ and felt quite strongly that my little personal mission to connect my family through jewellery needed to be branched out further. I want people to feel connected to those they love.
So now I am building a business. I am essentially ‘back at school‘ where I am now practising what I ‘teach/preached’ for all those years when I told my students
‘ You can do whatever you want, you just have to work for it’
I am learning and taking risks and trying to feel confident all at once but I don’t, not all the time. I feel fraudulent some days, figuring out whether I have the right to be doing what I am doing and other days I feel inspired, powerful and excited. Some days when I tell people what I do, I walk away feeling even more convinced of my mission, other days I walk away from a mumbled conversation to go back to my notebooks and practice my elevator pitch over and over again, feeling frustrated that I just don’t have it down to one succinct sentence.
But I am getting there. I feel it in my gut. I have moved away from a career I loved and was good at to do this. I wasn’t pushed. It was not last chance saloon. I somehow have put my faith in the knowledge that I am doing this for a reason. That my reason for starting this will become other peoples reason for buying EsmeLoves jewellery. The need to connect, to celebrate, to share with others the moments that are so special and shape who we are. To recognise that we are all on a journey and that others have gone before us, our Mothers, Grandmothers, Great Grandmothers. To place our stories in the value of our relationships with others and to enjoy our place in peoples lives.
It is my journey for now.
Have you started a business?
I would love to hear your journey.