From market stall to store front...
Here it is, our spotlight blog! I got the chance to have a little chat with an inspirational businesswoman. Sophie Arnott, the owner of Anvil and Ivy Jewellery, is a 26-year-old jewellery maker and designer from Essex. Sophie was one of our first Traders at our pop up marketplace in Chelmsford back in 2017. She took some time out to tell me all about her business, and how trade fayres and markets have been a key part of her success.
How did Anvil and Ivy Jewellery begin?
So Sophie, let’s start at the beginning, where did Anvil and Ivy Jewellery start?
I got into jewellery making as a way to be creative whilst working in an office job that really wasn’t a good fit for me. My journey first started on a beginners silver jewellery evening course and I’ve never looked back. From the very first lesson, it felt like it all clicked and that I had found what I was meant to do. I completed various other training courses and self-taught myself by making ALOT of mistakes along the way.
My first workbench was set up in the garage on an old computer desk (very uncomfortable to work at) but, it did the job and I would rush home from commuting in London and get straight into making at every opportunity.
After a couple of years, I was given the opportunity to work part-time for the jewellery school that I first learnt with. This enabled me to leave my office job and work part-time, leaving a few days a week free for me to build my jewellery business and develop my skills.
This was the best thing I ever did for my career.
I was surrounded by jewellery making 24/7 and the talented tutors and staff who I’ve learnt so much from.
Fast forward a few more years and I now teach a range of classes at that same school in London. I’m also a mentor for other budding jewellery makers. I have a lovely studio in Essex (no longer an IKEA computer desk) and my jewellery business ‘Anvil & Ivy’ is going strong. I feel very lucky!
I try to make every purchase feel like a little piece of luxury while keeping affordable and accessible prices. I want my jewellery to be loved, lived in and passed on for others to enjoy so quality is at the heart of my making process.
How have markets played a part in your success?
They have helped hugely! It’s always nerve-wracking bringing your handcrafted pieces to a real-life audience. Once I had got the first one out of the way and overcame my fear of ‘what if no one likes my stuff’, I used to look forward to having the opportunity to chat to people and see their happy faces clutching one of my gift bags. I’ve attended many craft markets and fayres, but I’ve always loved the Bearded Gypsy Trade Fayre. Everything always runs so smoothly and it’s such an amazing opportunity to trade on the high street. Tillie is such an amazing advocate for small businesses. Chelmsford is lucky to have her!
What advice would you give to someone setting up a market stall?
Plan, plan and more planning. The main thing you need to consider is your display. You want it to be eye-catching and professional. This is your opportunity to showcase your amazing products so put as much effort as you can into it. Think about elevating the display too, having height helps to grab attention, so play around with product placement. I find putting your best pieces at eye level works well for me.
Also, I would say that you need to accept that you might not sell anything. I’ve had my fair share of disappointing craft fairs over the years. As heartbreaking as they are on the day, they really don’t matter in the long run. Think about your approach, re-evaluate for next time and move on.
If you could give your past self some advice, what would it be?
To ignore the ever-present niggling feeling of self-doubt. We all have it and we need to learn to ignore it. I think my lack of belief in my abilities has held me back at various points of my career. When I look back on what I’ve done over the past few years I actually feel really proud of what I’ve achieved so far.
Anything exciting coming up for Anvil & Ivy?
I’m about to open my first retail shop on Maldon High Street this weekend. I am SO excited for what’s to come on this next adventure. Attending trade fayres and markets has given me the confidence to go for it. I’m terrified, but so looking forward to finally having my very own shop space.
Thanks to Sophie for her story!
Check her out: https://www.anvilandivy.co.uk/ and her shop in Maldon, Essex!
If you have a story that you want to tell, then why not get in touch.