An interview with Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear

Emerald Earrings by Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear

In recent months we’ve been delighted to see the success of one our jewellery designers, Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear, who joined us in late 2012. The business was set up three years ago by Eilidh Strang in her beloved Edinburgh, where she designs and hand-makes every piece in the range. Her Family Tree Locket proved to be spectacularly popular over the Christmas period and from there the company has gone from strength to strength. We love her eclectic mix of brass and precious stones. We spoke to Eilidh to find out more about her business and how she got started.

What inspired you to create Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear?
When my son was nine months old we went on holiday to Skye, a fairly remote island off the coast of mainland Scotland. The weather was atrocious and we spent a lot of time browsing endless gift shops. I found that there was barely any exciting – and affordable – handmade costume jewellery on offer, so I decided to make some.

Describe your product range and what makes it unique
My bestsellers are pretty evenly spread between classic deco-inspired brass designs (I became obsessed with triangles about a year ago and it’s still going strong) and my fun animal designs, like snail and frog lockets. I like to think the modernist brass stuff is the ‘Silk Purse’ and the pig brooches and sheep earrings are the ‘Sow’s Ear’!

Deco Pyramid Necklace

Deco Pyramid Necklace

Where did you start your company?
I work from home, and plan to continue doing so for as long as possible. I have an old 70s cabinet where I keep my materials, and at the end of each day it all gets packed away again. As a mother I really love the freedom working from home gives me, where I can work for a few hours early in the morning before breakfast without having to get a bus anywhere.

What kind of support have you received along the way?
Having my son three years ago, and not working 9-5 for the first time, was definitely the single greatest catalyst in starting up my own business. Without him, and the support of my partner Rob, I really doubt I would have had the time or headspace to even consider starting up my business.

What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in running your business?
My challenges are, in the main, pretty similar to that of any other working mum. Trying to keep a reasonable work-life balance, particularly during the busy Christmas period, is something we’re still working on as a family. Also because I work from home, trying to keep work stuff and family stuff from spilling together into a mad, unmanageable mess is a real challenge. Luckily I am geekily fond of storage solutions, so we’re getting there as well!

Turquoise Neon Earrings

Turquoise Neon Earrings 

Describe the style of your home
I live on the ground floor of a Georgian building in Edinburgh’s New Town. It’s very traditional, with high ceilings, huge windows and great cornices. I love it – and Edinburgh – so much!

Has had a positive impact on your business?
Becoming a seller on is one of the best business decisions I’ve made since starting up. The marketing and seller support is really second to none and I can’t praise it highly enough.

Deco Earrings With Jet

Deco Earrings With Jet

What are you lusting after on this month?
Ciel sell the most amazing child’s stool in a pea green colour, shaped like an elephant. I just love everything about it!

What is your bestselling product?
The earrings I make with 1940s pink opal glass have been really popular from the very beginning. The glass is really incredible looking – it has a delicate, milky sheen in certain lights, but when it catches the light it glows really bright, like it’s on fire.

Pink Opal Earrings by Silk Purse, Sow's Ear

Pink Opal Earrings 

What are your ambitions for your company in the future?
For the moment, I am happy carrying on as I am. From the beginning I have operated by making the most of every opportunity I can, and just seeing where it takes me – I will definitely continue to do this and see where I end up! For me, the most important thing is having the freedom to design and introduce new designs on an ongoing, weekly basis, rather than being restricted to a couple of ‘collections’ a year. From the very beginning this has been a really important thing for me because it keeps things fresh and interesting – for me and my customers. Selling online and in small, independent boutiques is ideal for this way of working, and I’m really happy with it.

See the full Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear range

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