Young People in Business: Sarah Young makes a statement with silver
(Photo: Jermaine Cruickshank)
Sometimes making a career switch is as simple as taking that first step.
In 2012, Sarah Young felt that she could not continue her chosen path in Linguistics and decided to make a change.
Young, who celebrated her 36th birthday this month, said she decided to take the risk, and so far, it has paid off.
“I actually studied Linguistics at the University of the West Indies and was tutoring, but I felt like I needed a change. I didn’t want to continue studying, which was my main option in that field, it was just not what I wanted to do, and I’ve always been a crafty person, so I said there must be something else,” she said.
It was then that her passion for jewellery making began.
She said she began looking online crafts shopping website Etsy and decided to try jewellery making.
“At first I started just making jewellery for friends and myself, then I decided I wanted to do more, so I asked jeweller Jade Drakes to give me a crash course on the basics of soldering and jewellery making and I was like ‘right, I can do this’,” she said.
She bought several books on silversmithing and looked at numerous tutorials online to get more information on her craft, and through trial and error, she began making jewellery in earnest.
“I am the type of person, I don’t change my jewellery very often. I don’t want something that will just go unnoticed but I don’t want it to be cumbersome that I can’t wear it every day…it’s tough finding people with that same aesthetic,” she said.
Young’s style can be described as minimal, with small intricate details that give each piece a distinctive quality.
In terms of inspiration, Young said sometimes her design might change as she goes along; she’s never quite sure what each piece will end up as.
“I let it be what it wants to be. Most often I start with an idea in mind and while I’m working with it, it turns out different. I like the juxtaposition of hard lines and soft lines, so as I go along I make changes to decide what it should be,” she said.
Young sometimes incorporates natural materials into her designs, such as sand from a local beach which was ensconced into earrings or a pendant. She also designs glass jewellery dishes which perfectly accompany her jewellery.
Her favourite piece, however, are her wedding earrings which she designed herself.
Now with a one-year-old daughter, Sarah is focusing on working between the demands of a family and the challenges of her business.
She said it has been somewhat difficult marketing her product amidst other local jewellers.
“One of the biggest challenges was finding the right customer, at least for me. Customers may not understand that yes, although its silver jewellery, it’s not factory-made or mass-produced, these are hand-crafted. I’m sitting down at home making each of these pieces by hand.”
“It’s taken a while to find the customers who understand what goes into having jewellery that’s specifically made for them, it’s unique,” she said.
“I have several loyal clients who always come back and request pieces I’ve made but I have found it difficult getting your name out there when you’re not as well-known as other jewellers,” she said.
She added that with a young daughter it has been difficult focusing on her business, however luckily she has had the support of her husband and sister to help take up the slack.
“Since February 2017 (when her daughter was born), I haven’t been able to make a ton of pieces. Because I work from home I can’t have her around the workspace and I don’t have anyone else to watch her while I’m working, so on a weekend my husband watches her while I get some work done.”
“It has been difficult, I didn’t think it would be quite this difficult, but I will get back to it,” she said.
She added that although her main avenue is at local pop-up shops, she is finding it a challenge as the market becomes more saturated.
“Sometimes I put out money for a market (pop-up shop) and come back with nothing, it’s tough sometimes. But my family has been very encouraging. They tell me that my work is special and that I do have a talent for it, and that I should continue,” she said.
In terms of advice, Young said continuous learning and training is key.
“Whatever you choose to do, keep learning. Always do your research and you don’t necessarily need to go to school (if you can’t afford it), there’s so much information available on the internet that’s free, it’s much easier to educate yourself now. And just keep trying,” she said.
Young said although she’s taking her progress one step at a time, she’s determined to keep growing.
She’s also looking at developing a men’s line after she received requests from some of her customers.
“I do want to look at men’s jewellery because people do ask about it and I do find myself thinking of what types of jewellery they would wear,” she said.
She added that the importance of supporting locally made products cannot be understated.
“I’m also guilty of buying things online, but it’s worth buying something of quality that’s unique…we have really great chocolates here, and local clothing designers with so much talent who are making really amazing things,” she said.
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