The Jewellery Designer: Elin Horgan

I recently crossed paths with Elin via a social group we are both a part of and connected right away. She is a Bristol based jeweller inspired by day to day visuals we may bypass on our daily activities be it a drain cover to the shape of a window to create some beautiful minimalist pieces with a timeless essence we will be wearing for years to come.

1. What is your background and how did you progress to where you are now?

I’ve taken a rather unconventional path to where I am right now because although I had a childhood ambition to be a jeweller, I didn’t study it at university (or in fact do anything remotely creative!).  After graduation I worked in research and then business development and took some jewellery and silversmithing evening classes at a local college as I needed a creative outlet from my very uncreative job!

I soon caught the bug and became completely absorbed in the designing and making process.  I found that I was using my brain in a completely different way from the way I did at work and loved the challenges of thinking in 3D, understanding the materials and experimenting with ideas.

So the seed was planted, but it took me another few years until I was brave enough to set up my own business.  I decided not to return to my day job following maternity leave, took a start-up business course and in 2013 Elin Horgan Jewellery was launched.

2. What is the ethos behind Elin Horgan jewellery and what are your inspirations?

I think my ethos is best summed up by the phrase...

...‘beauty in simplicity’ and I love the idea of taking a simple shape or motif and seeing how far you can take it.

I get my inspiration from architecture, abstract art and the urban environment….the shape of a window or the pattern on a drain cover can spark off an idea.

I guess you would say that my work is for people who believe that less is more.  So it’s quite understated and minimalist with a geometric-inspired aesthetic, but also beautiful and wearable. I really believe in creating pieces that have a timeless feel to them, rather than being trend-led, and that also work with the other jewellery you own so you know that when you invest you’ll be wearing it for years to come.

I made a commitment to using recycled silver following the Fashion Revolution campaign a couple of years ago where they were encouraging consumers to ask ‘Who made my clothes?’ and ‘Who made my jewellery?’ I’d been toying with the idea for ages, but this gave me the push I needed and I found myself thinking that if this was something that could make even the smallest positive difference then why wouldn’t I do it?!

3. What have you learned since you started in 2013 (how did you originally start, have you veered down a different path, did you discover more passion in new areas etc.)?

Design-wise I’ve definitely learned to keep it simple and stay true to my signature style (read more here on how to discover your style). Just because you have the idea it doesn’t mean that it has to be made!  When I’m developing a new collection I might sketch out 50 different designs, but only a fraction of those see the light of day.  It’s tempting to do everything, but restraint is key.

I was also very fixated on getting lots of stockists when I first started, sometimes without really thinking about whether they’d be a good fit for my work and actually sell much stuff!! Now I’m more interested in working with a smaller number of quality shops & galleries and balancing that with growing the online side of my business.

4. How do you find best to portray the slow, minimal essence of your brand to your audience? 

This is so hard, I’m not sure I’ve really got it nailed.  In my marketing comms I like to talk about how the pieces are all handmade by me using sustainably sourced materials and I think a lot of people get that...

...but you do get the occasional person who thinks you’re Amazon Prime and doesn’t understand why they can’t have something delivered the very next day!

5. What do you love, what drives you forward encouraging you to keep going?

I love creating and I guess that’s what gets me up in the morning.  I feel incredibly lucky to be doing this and although running your own business and having to make ALL the decisions can be overwhelming at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope I can be a good role model for my kids to show them that it is possible to make a living doing something you love.

6. What have you learnt in 2020?

Stay positive and be kind to yourself! I think everyone felt that they should instantly have an answer on how to operate in the new COVID world, but the truth is it’s taken a lot of people a while to get their heads around what it all means.  I think 2020 has taught me how to live with the uncertainty a bit better.

7. How do you envisage slow/ethical shopping moving forwards (especially in recent times)?

I feel like it’s having a moment, but I dearly hope that it’s more than just a passing trend. It does feel like people are making more of an effort to buy less, choose well and make it last and this really resonated with me, but I think it will be really telling what happens over the next few years. 

8. How do you balance business and personal life?

Not very well at the moment! I’m lucky that my workshop/studio is at the back of my house so I can work as I want, but the downside is that there’s no physical barrier between work and home so when it’s busy things start to merge which isn’t very healthy.

9. What is on the agenda for the future?

I would love to expand more into fine jewellery, developing the commission side of my business and creating pieces that use fair-mined gold and recycled silver with ethically sourced gemstones.

 

Check out Elin's website for original, understated pieces handmade in her studio and follow her on social for some insights to behind the scenes plus her fast selling workshops.