Our In the Shop Window interviews are a little glimpse into the world of some of Scotland’s best and most original creative small businesses. A little look at their loves and loathes of being the boss, inspiration and general day to day business. This week I’m delighted to welcome Gaynor, the owner of Scottish Sea Glass, a highly successful and original jewellery business based in Dunfermline, Fife. Scottish Sea Glass: Shop Scotland, Website, Facebook, Twitter.
Scottish Sea Glass, Dunfermline
My Business: I create hand crafted jewellery and accessories using sea glass which I collect from the shorelines around Scotland’s mainland and surrounding isles.
Starting Out: I have always loved creating since I was a wee girl coupled with rummaging through what the waves brought ashore. So doing what I do is just a dream these days!! I used to work as an Occupational Therapist in the field of Learning disabilities and associated challenging behaviours. I used a lot of craft work as a therapeutic aid with the people I worked with. I took a break from this work in 2000 and signed up for a Silversmiths course, I fell pregnant with my daughter, so took time off to be a mum. After my son started nursery I knew I would start to look into getting back to work, but wanted to do something creative. By trial and error, hard work and lots of good fortune I came up with the idea I could use all the sea glass I had collected together with my silversmith skills to make jewellery. I taught myself from here on in and took my creations to craft fairs to test the water. I was so pleasantly surprised when people liked my work and even parted with their hard earn pennies to buy pieces. I am not a sales person and a friend of the family suggested Scotland’s Trade Fair as a venue I could exhibit my work to Scottish and UK buyers. I did my first show with them almost 9 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since then.
Where I’m based: Dunfermline, Fife.
Business Name: My husband. We were playing around with various names and he said it’s Scottish and it’s Sea Glass. Does pretty much what it says on the tin!!!
Previous Jobs: I worked as a Senior Occupational Therapist initially in a community setting with various peoples needs. Then I specialised in the field of Learning Disabilities and associated challenging behaviours.
My “typical” working day: I get up at 7.30am, kids off to school, dogs out for a walk (often accompanied with our two cats!!). I am in the workshop for 9.30-10ish. I always start by checking emails, Facebook, orders and banking – that’s the grown up bit done, after that the fun starts. I drill, carve and work on any commissions and shop orders I have in my blue book (technology is essential for my work ….but if it’s not written in my blue book…it won’t happen. I’d be lost without it!!!)
Self employment highs: I can work at my pace fitting it around my families needs (can be a real juggling act at times – but wouldn’t change it for the world). When I do things – I do them because they work and they are needed. In the past working for an organisation some of the protocols and procedures were time consuming and almost a paper exercise. Now as time is so precious, everything I do counts to making the business work …. otherwise it gets binned. Also, I get to listen to Radio 2 all day …what’s not to like?
Self employment lows: Like all working Mums, the guilt of being in my home workshop when they are off on holiday and feeling I should be doing two jobs at once.
Who helped me: I had some great advice and help from Business Gateway in the initial stages of setting up the business. I had no clue about running a business so the help they gave in the beginning was great. I attended some brilliant workshops on various subjects they ran too. It was a great way of learning and meeting others starting up their own businesses too.
Inspiration: The sea glass itself. Sometimes when it is just laying all muddled on my workbench pieces are laying together and they just look so beautiful. I also get great inspiration from customers – they ask me to make their own designs up, and whilst working on their commissions I get lots of ideas of designs I could make in the future.
Find Me: I sell throughout Scotland and the UK and recently have started exporting (that’s been a learning curve!!) I have a list of all my stockists on my website ‘Where to Buy‘ page.
Business Achievements: Just doing it. Never in a million years would I have dreamed I could be making a living from collecting sea glass and making it into jewellery!! I also took part in a Radio Scotland programme discussing foraging. That was so nerve racking, I am definitely sticking to making jewellery!!
Longterm goals: Keep on doing what I am doing, for as long as people want me to make pieces for them.
Promotion: Facebook and exhibiting at Scotland’s Trade Fair twice a year.
Popular products: My most popular product is a simple pendant with an aqua piece of sea glass with a ‘Scottish Sweetheart’ hole carved into it with a silver heart offset. It was one of my first designs and I still make more of this piece than any other. One of my recent favourite pieces to make is the ‘Prints in the sand‘ pendants. I hand carve a foot print or Paw print into the sea glass – it’s such a relaxing piece to make.
Must have crafty tool: My drills, pliers, snips and the radio (my hands don’t work if the radio is not on!!)
With Hindsight: Go for it and don’t think folk won’t like your work.
Other Makers: My favourite pieces I have are made by the lovely Alison at ‘Sea Harr Houses‘. She makes beautiful sculptures and pictures with little houses and sea scenes using drift wood. I have lots of her work.
Plan B jobwise: Nope – that’s why when I say ‘thank you’ to individual customers and shops I really do mean it. Their orders stop me having to think about a Plan B.
Celebrity Clients: A few – but won’t name names.
And another thing: I pinch myself every day I get to do what I do. Thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way (especially Magnus, Pollyanne and Oli for dragging me off the beach – otherwise I’d still be there now).
Favourite Independent Shop: Art Room 59 – in Townhill, Dunfermline.
Favourite Destination in Scotland: Maspie Den, Auchmithie beach and my workshop!!
Best thing about Scotland: Our sense of humour and humanity.
Hidden Scotland: Camusdarrach
Best thing about Scotland: Its people.
Favourite Restaurant: Kushies curry house in Dunfermline
Favourite TV Show: Breaking Bad – watched it more times than i will admit
Favourite Film: Patch Adams and It’s a Wonderful Life (I am a big softy)
Favourite Book: I am dyslexic – so reading is exhausting for me. I make up for it in other ways.
Do you believe in Nessie? Yes!!! Santa and the Tooth Fairy visit our house – Nessie must be down there somewhere.
Favourite Holiday Destination: – Pondicherry, India. The calmest place I have been to on this earth.