When did you set up your business and why?
I launched By Leahy, Fine Jewellery in 2019 as a side venture while working full-time in the tech industry. Prior to that, I spent a few years learning how to make fine jewellery with a master goldsmith in Hatton Garden, London, while I lived there. I absolutely loved every minute of it and the interest grew over the years.
Around the time I moved back to Ireland, I was handed down a very special family necklace that my grandad had gifted my granny over 70 years previously.
The necklace was shaped like an envelope and it opened to reveal a secret inner note with the message “I love you”. In time, my granny passed the necklace to my mum and a few years ago my mum passed it to me.
After passing through three generations, this beautiful piece is filled with many memories. The story behind this necklace inspired the setting up of By Leahy - where memories are captured and connections are created through personalised fine jewellery, 100% designed and handmade in Ireland.
Can you explain your design process?
Every item in the By Leahy Collection is 100% designed and handmade on my bench in Galway. Being Irish-made is a very important element of the brand.
By Leahy aims to be more sustainable through three core facets of the business - its use of 100% recycled precious metal, the production process, and its packaging.
From the start, I adopted a “slow” approach to fine jewellery making.
This conscious approach to jewellery making has the benefit of zero waste as every single item in the collection is made to order and there is no excess supply. My original motivation for choosing this approach was deep-rooted in the brand's purpose – making considered and meaningful pieces to last the generations.
My customers seek investment pieces that they can enjoy every day, yet stand the test of time to be handed down to future generations in time.
What is your best seller?
The signature envelope necklace. 9ct gold is the most sought after, but demand has been so great that it is now also available in 18ct gold, rose gold, sterling silver, and white gold on request.
All thanks to customer requests, I have developed the signature envelope necklace so that customers can choose their personal engraving in the original brand font, or take their handwriting, or that of a loved one, and have it engraved exactly as written.
This is the bespoke handwriting option and it is fast becoming the favoured choice because it is truly sentimental.
What is it about your business that brings you joy?
Making each personal piece and hearing the reaction from my customers once they have received their item, or gifted it to someone special. It is the best feeling to hear how delighted they are and how it made them feel.
As each item centres on their choice of engraved message, it is a really personal experience. I love hearing the stories behind their choice of engraving, and why their choice is so special to them.
What are your hopes for 2022?
To keep delighting my customers and to keep improving and growing as a business. For the first three years, I grew By Leahy on the side while working full-time.
In February of 2022, continued and steady growth encouraged me to commit to it full-time. I've loved every minute so far - all the good parts, and all the challenges!
What advice would you give to another start-up business?
Listen to what your customers are telling you- the positives are great, but also seek constructive feedback, and take it all on board.
When I look back at the first product, compared to where it is today, I see so much improvement.
My customers telling me what they like and what they don't like helps me to continually refine and expand the By Leahy offering.
For further information, visit www.byleahy.com