10 Things you didn’t know about Sophia Alexander Jewellery
What inspired you to set up your business?
I set up my company making baby hand and foot sculptures in bronze, after my first son was born.
I live with a chronic pain condition which caused various fertility issues. This was a struggle in itself, but then when I was 8 months pregnant, I was in a serious road traffic accident.
It was then that I decided I really didn’t want to return to work after maternity leave and I started looking at my options.
I had always been very creative. I played the violin and I had dabbled in drawing, photography and sculpture since childhood. I had often dreamed of working for myself in a career that involved being creative.
The baby sculpture company, although relatively successful, had a very local reach.
I noticed that customers had started travelling to see me from as far as London and Surrey, but it was only when I started getting requests for sculptures in silver that I fell in love with making things in precious metal.
We now have 5 children and I spend my days making jewellery, writing, taking photographs and making the most of living in the middle of the Suffolk countryside.
How did you choose your business name?
Alexander is my eldest son’s name. Sophia is the name we had picked out for him before we found out he was a boy.
Honestly, we just thought they sounded good together. Everything else we came up with sounded a bit naff and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
A few years later, our second child, a little girl arrived and she ended up being named Sophia.
In retrospect, although I love the strong family connection, naming the business after what sounds like a woman’s name was a bit of a mistake.
Almost everyone who gets in touch calls me Sophia. It also means our other 3 children aren’t included in the company name.
What does your "typical" work day look like?
A friend sent me meme a while ago that said “I don’t have a 9 – 5, I have a “When I open my eyes, to when I close them”. That just about sums it up.
I’ve never had any kind of childcare and I don’t have family close by that can help out or take the children off my hands.
I’ve learned to combine both, but it does mean quite a few excruciatingly early mornings and late nights.
The business isn’t just making jewellery and working with customers. It’s updating the website; managing my social media channels; photography and writing. I’m never short of something to do.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Sending off finished pieces and receiving happy phone calls, emails and letters from customers. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that.
All those messages are special, but I love it when clients go that extra mile send in thank you letters.
Good reviews matter to small business’s more than a lot of people realise.
They remind me that the value of our jewellery is so much greater than its cost.
Who is a typical Sophia Alexander customer
Absolutely anyone with someone special. A mother, father, grandparent, child or even a beloved pet. We have made gifts for dogs, cats, horses and even the odd tortoise.
Who or what is your inspiration ?
My inspiration has always been my husband and my children from day one. I want to build something that provides for my family. Something they can all be proud of.
How do you use social media to help promote your business?
Who are your favourite small businesses, makers or brands?
I adore Amanda Coleman Jewellery, Grace and Flora, Bird and Monkey, Theodora Gould and so many more.
They’re all amazingly creative people who make beautiful handmade gifts.
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs?
Keep on going and never give up.
It’s taken a phenomenal amount of time and patience to build Sophia Alexander into what you see now.
Over a decade! And there’s still so much more to learn and do.
My pet hate is people saying that “if you really want to do it, you’ll find the money or find a way”. There’s a complete lack of understanding in that sentence.
It’s very “let them eat cake”.
That’s all very well if you’re sitting on a pile of savings; have another income stream or are in a position where you’re prepared to gamble everything and take out a loan.
Websites, photography and marketing all take money. A lot of it.
For me having a young family and a mortgage to pay, taking out a large loan was out of the question.
I know that a certain amount of debt is seen as normal and completely acceptable for companies when they start up, but it’s not something I wanted for my family.
And taking a long time hasn’t actually been a bad thing.
The time spent had allowed me to achieve so much.
I’ve built up my reputation and client base organically. I’ve also built up huge numbers of contacts in the industry and I’m lucky to have got to know a lot of professional jewellers that I now consider friends.
I’ve invested in professional help where absolutely necessary, like when we needed to have our videos made, but I’ve also had time to build up my own skillset.
I can take my own photographs, which means I can photograph every piece I make for my clients. I designed my own brand; my packaging; my blog; everything.
It’s great to know that I can now do “almost” everything completely by myself and if I can’t do it myself, I’m lucky enough to work with many amazing people who can.
What are your plans for the future?
The great thing about owning your own business is that it can be very organic, constantly changing and evolving.
This year we’re launching a brand new range of sibling jewellery, specifically designed for people who want 2, 3 or more prints added to a piece of jewellery or a gift.
It’s something we’re always being asked for, so I thought I’d figure out a way.
We asked our clients to put forward suggestions for new designs and the response was utterly overwhelming.
It’s been a very exciting process and we’re very excited to reveal what we’ve come up with.
Who knows where next year will take us, but I’m looking forward to it.
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