Handmade In Keswick at Craftfest

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Judith Brown -Stalking Success

Well here we are again with the latest instalment in the Stalking Success series.
I met Judith Brown at a show at Penrith, adored the way she makes very 'of the minute' jewellery, upcycling buttons and haberdashery, but in a sophisticated style which is instantly recognisable as her own.

Ever since that meeting, it seems that I have seen her work almost every time I've picked up a leaflet, read something online, or opened a magazine - this woman gets exposure!

Judith Brown

I’ve always been a maker and remember making clothes for my dolls at a very young age! My Mum taught me to sew and knit and as a teenager I made and sold bead jewellery to my friends to fund my hobby. 
Eventually I went on to do a degree in Embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University. Following that I lived in Italy for a while and didn’t really do anything very creative until I discovered fine copper wire. Some friends of mine made and sold jewellery and I was “playing “ with bits of wire and realised that I could stitch with the wire, and that’s where it all started. When I moved back to England I started experimenting with coloured wires, beads and eventually a button from my Mum’s button tin, which was the beginning of the development of my current collections. 

 I started making to sell in 2004 and now I have my own studio in Staffordshire and sell work in galleries and at events all over the UK.

 At first I experimented with the different gauges of wire and coloured beads and to find out which stitches worked best, almost straight away I started doing small fairs and events and selling through local galleries, this meant I could learn which colours and designs had widest appeal.

 Then I started using old buttons in my designs that I had found in my Mum’s button tin, I remember a lovely carved button and thinking that though it was beautiful as it was, surely it would be more appreciated if I could turn it into something wearable for more people to admire, rather than sitting in a tin in a drawer for years to come. 

So alongside the coloured wire jewellery I had my Vintage Mother of Pearl Button collection made with silver wire, which sold just as well. 

Once I started making designs in black with hooks and eyes and press studs this Vintage Noir range really took off, and I decided to focus more on upcyling and recycling vintage haberdashery, and creating something elegant and wearable from ordinary everyday forgotten objects

Achieving Sales

I don’t remember a particular breakthrough point though it was probably at some point in 2010 when things started to come together, looking back it was probably because I had learnt so much in the years before and had developed a coherent collection of designs which I had learnt to display well. 

I also began to be selected for the bigger UK contemporary craft fairs. Now I sell in around 40 outlets around the UK which include small craft galleries and boutiques as well as museums like the V&A and the British Museum, there’s a full list of stockists on my website. I also sell through my own online shop as well as Notonthehighstreet and Madebyhandonline

I also take part in various craft events around the UK and exhibit at trade fairs.

Getting Known

This is something that has built up over time from attending events, selling in good galleries and working on my online presence. From time to time I have advertised in magazines like Craft and Design and Crafts, though budgets don’t allow for many ads! Through doing events I have made contacts with writers and editors and have been featured in Craft and Design Magazine and in Embroidery magazine. In the last 18 months I have also used a PR agent who has helped me to get featured in other publications.

I use social media a lot and am a bit of a Facebook addict, I have recently discovered Pinterest, which I think is my new favourite. I tweet too and use all of them to network with other makers and make new contacts as well as showing what I’m up to.

Twitter: @Judithjewels

Becoming Sucessful

If the 18 year old me could see what I have achieved I think she would be impressed, but me now is always striving for more! I have achieved a lot and am proud to have my jewellery in prestigious museum shops and to have been featured in Embroidery magazine (I was an Embroidery graduate remember!) I like to keep moving and keep improving my work and my business and feel that I’m doing that so that I can keep growing personally too. However economic times are hard for all and though money is certainly not the motivator for my making it is necessary for me to be able to continue, so earning a little more of it would make me feel a bit more successful! I think my achievements are due to lots of hard work, sheer determination and constantly learning and evolving, and of course my passion for making!

Attend a workshop

I run full day and half day workshops making jewellery with wire inspired by my collections. Details of these are on my events page. I am looking for more venues to run workshops, so please contact me if you are interested.

Fairs and Exhibitions

Also on my events page, a list of fairs and exhibitions that I have in my diary for 2013.

Special Discount

Readers of this blog can get a 15% discount off purchases made from Judith's online shop up until 24 March 2013 by using the code FoundInKeswick15.

Wow right? Those photos by Holly Booth are fantastic too - I think product photo envy is my current vice.

If you're quick, you can see more by visiting Judith this weekend (8th, 9th & 10th March 2013) at the Contemporary Textiles Fairs at Teddington

And if you can't make that - it'd be nice if you just get a chance to rifle through Judith's online sites and tell her what you think. 

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