Interview with Lucy Quartermaine, founder of jewellery brand Lucy Quartermaine

Find out how her grandmother inspired Lucy Quartermaine to follow her passion and launch jewellery brand Lucy Quartermaine.

What’s your career background?

At school my passion was arts and crafts. I would spend most break times in the art department creating weird and wonderful things from wood and fabrics. I discovered a book on silversmithing, and the world of silver just started to open up for me.

With this self-learnt knowledge, I handmade my own collection of jewellery, inspired by Celtic designs and to be honest, was extremely proud of my efforts.

My skills and enthusiasm earned me a place at Sheffield Hallam University, where I embarked on an honour’s degree course in metalwork and jewellery. Here I knew I had found my calling and worked hard to hone my skills. I am happy to say that my work quickly drew recognition and awards, with my designs often being hailed as leaps and strides ahead of my peers.

After graduation, I was personally headhunted to work in a silversmith and thought I had hit the jackpot. It was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse and soon wished I had turned it down.

Young, idealistic and naïve, my employer took full advantage, keeping me working in the basement of the store and taking advantage of my innocent nature. It was perhaps the most miserable time of my career and really knocked my confidence. When I was finally able to escape, I swore that jewellery was out of my life!

How things change…Not at first admittedly. I turned my back on the world of workshops and silver and took a drastic diversion – into banking. But, for all its stability and comfort banking did not excite me the way jewellery did. The fire in my heart had not gone out, and I felt my old passion beckoning me back…

The turning point came with the sudden news that (at a very young age) I was pregnant! Fear walked hand in hand with excitement and I knew, with sudden clarity, that I had to return to my true calling: For my daughter, not just for me. How else would I teach my child to follow her dreams, and that passion was the most important thing? By example.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

My inspiration came from my grandmother! When I was a little girl, I was in awe of my grandmother, who used to create beautiful pieces of jewellery by setting natural gemstones in silver.

I was desperate to create pieces of my own and so when she gave me a vast collection of buttons to choose from I would while away the hours threading them onto string to create necklaces and bracelets, wearing my own quirky collections.

How did you move from idea to actual business?

The idea was always to run my own business from an early age, after watching my dad successfully become an entrepreneur.

The idea of going into design naturally came later on as I had a passion and drive for fashion and design. Whilst being a mum to three children and doing the odd craft fair for pocket money, to naturally turning into a fully established brand due to high demand from retailers and customers.

What’s your USP

Commercially unique, we think outside the box and make our own trends, unlike other jewellery brands. 

Who’s your target audience?

Our target audience would be someone that appreciates quality and contemporary designs, usually aged 30+ 

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Through various means – specifically we have our online presence via social media, website and newsletters, as well as a dedicated press team. We also have retailers across the UK and Jersey, and our very own boutique in the heart of Chester.

What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?

Our most successful marketing strategy so far would be bringing back the Chester hallmark on our jewellery. The Chester Assay Office closed its doors in 1962 and from this date, the Town Mark of three wheatsheaves and a sword in a shaped shield have remained dormant.

Although no longer a hallmark, the Town Mark has been added alongside our current hallmark, separated by a double space to avoid confusion. This felt important to me as designer, as it represents my heritage and paying homage to this amazing city, the place I call home. The Lucy Quartermaine brand is based in Chester and proud of the history of both the Chester Assay Office and Hallmarking.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Balancing Work with a social life / motherhood. They are both full time jobs in their own right and require attention. 

And your proudest moment so far?

My proudest moment would be moving my business from the garage at home to eventually buying a Chester Heritage building and opening my very own branded boutique. Seeing my jewellery worn on celebrities and featuring on Britain’s Got Talent was also just incredible. Winning UK Jewellery Designer of the Year two years in a row was a massive achievement too; a very proud moment!

Why is work so important to you?

Work is so important to me as it definitely provides me with a sense of purpose. I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mum, I wanted to be able to provide for my children and not put them in a nursery full time.

Running my company made this possible and working hard to do what I love and to be able to show my children they can do anything they put their mind to if they focus and work hard, is a really rewarding feeling. 

Who inspires you?

Salvador Dali, Mackintosh, Steve McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. I am inspired by artists who have their own unique style, are ahead of their time and pave their own way into design. 

How do you balance your work with your family?

I work a strict timetable to ensure I have quality time with family. Disconnecting from work and ensuring I always have the weekends is incredibly important to me. 

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar? 

  1. Passion and ambition is everything! 
  2. Accept that you have to take the rough with the smooth.
  3. Follow your heart and always be yourself. If you believe in what you do, you will succeed. 

Find out more about Lucy Quartermaine.