When did you set up your business and why?
I was learning to make jewellery as a hobby for several years before I took the plunge.
When my third child was born (and my first started school the same month), we knew something had to change, as we both worked exactly the same hours as physios.
My amazing dad had died a few years previously and I think that had really shifted my mindset about life and work.
Ultimately, we decided life was short and I went back to study full-time when my youngest was 11 months old.
I’m so grateful to my husband Pedro for supporting that leap of faith, even though it wasn’t the most sensible move on paper. After graduating, I spent time developing my fine jewellery collections and finally got the website up and running mid-pandemic in June 2021.
Can you explain your process?
For collection pieces, my inspiration always starts with details in old buildings. Usually, an idea will have been floating around in my head for months and will gradually take shape in quiet moments. From there comes the design process.
This starts with rough sketches and goes from there to more technical drawings and sometimes even models in paper or other materials.
If it’s a bespoke commission, I’ll spend time getting to know what the client is looking for and what within my other work they love. Then I’ll send them design sketches with various options and we’ll take it from there.
Once I have a design I go about planning the making of the piece. As my work is inspired by the craftsmanship of old, it makes sense that my making process involves using traditional goldsmithing skills.
Sometimes the process will be very clear and other times there can be trial and error to see what method will achieve the best result.
I either hand carve the piece in wax to be cast in recycled gold or forge straight from recycled gold. Sometimes a design will involve elements of both of these processes at different stages.
What is your best seller?
One of my best sellers is the T-bar pendant from the pillar collection.
It’s a really unique take on the classic T-bar that has been around since its origins as a watch fob in the 1700s.
The pillar T-bar uses a pillar design as the horizontal bar, with rare olive green diamonds set into the brickwork.
It also hangs on a dark oxidised silver chain, providing a beautiful contrast to the buttery yellow gold.
The pillar collection is inspired by our Georgian buildings and their complicated past. These buildings are unique in that they carry the echoes of both opulent English landowners and impoverished tenement families.
The collection symbolises the inner strength that we possess even when we don’t feel strong and I think it’s the sense of the piece as a talisman for this, as well as its very unique design that makes it so popular.
What is it about your business that brings you joy?
There are so many aspects of my work that bring me joy. Running a business while also handcrafting the product is hard going, so it really does need to be something you love.
Apart from making my work by hand, which I love, there are a couple of things that put a huge smile on my face.
As a former specialist cancer physiotherapist, I really wanted to be able to give something back with the business. So I partnered with Irish-Tanzanian charity TLM (www.wearetlm.org), which was founded by the amazing Dr Trish Scanlan from Bray, so that 10% of the profits from every piece purchased goes to TLM to support their work in treating and supporting children with cancer in Tanzania, one of Africa’s biggest gold and diamond mining countries.
Because TLM manages everything on a shoestring budget, every cent makes a difference to them. So when I get to transfer over that contribution, it’s always a really joyful moment knowing it’s helping with the amazing work that they do.
Another thing that brings me joy is the connection with people. Because I make everything to order in small quantities, there’s always a connection to the customer.
Often, people will contact me about making a collection piece in a different metal, for example, or just to see if I can get a collection piece to them for a special date. With bespoke pieces, of course, there’s lots of back and forth and I love that process.
There are so few possessions that carry the sentiment of a piece of heirloom jewellery, especially knowing it’ll most likely be worn for generations to come, so hearing how happy my clients are with their piece when they receive it is just the best feeling.
What are your hopes for the coming year?
I have some gorgeous gemstones that I can’t wait to make into very special rings, so expect more occasion and engagement rings in the coming months.
I also have a beautiful new collection in progress that I’m really excited about, so watch this space for that too.
What advice would you give another start-up business?
I think the best piece of advice in life generally is not to be afraid to ask questions and it applies even more as a start-up because it’s such a steep and constant learning curve.
Ask questions from people who know more than you when the opportunity arises, go to the relevant free courses when you can, contact your local LEO.
Take in as much information and advice as you can and then filter it for your business and how it might apply.
Also, I would say don’t see other businesses as competitors. You could spend so much time and energy worrying about what others are doing or comparing yourself, but in business just like in life that will get you nowhere.
Be happy for others who are doing well and be kind and patient with yourself. Support them, celebrate their wins and build a community of like-minded business people because it can be a lonely road as an independent business and those friendships will keep you going when things get tough.
Síne will be offering a rare 15% discount site-wide for Green Friday with the code ‘Green15’ running from Friday 25 November for a full week until Friday 2 December. Visit www.sinevasquezjewellery.ie.