A talented and creative CEO Mum following her dream – Sarah Thomas (Original, Bespoke & Special Editon Jewellery)
Tell us about yourself, your family and what you do?
I’m Sarah and live in a little village called ‘Cold Norton’ in Essex – not far from Maldon. I turned 40 in July and live with my partner, Andy, of 15 years. We have two happy, healthy children – Ewan age 5 and Emily age 4. Emily has just started primary school so I’m discovering I actually have some time to myself again! Andy is a Police Officer and works a 24/7 shift pattern so, like many families, we have to juggle that on top of everything else!
My little, fledgling business is Made by Plumb – I make original jewellery, specialising in Sterling Silver, Semi-Precious and special edition Swarovski. I love using beautiful beads, keeping the design and wire work simple to allow the natural beauty to show. I’ve had a fascination with all things beaded since I was very young – I used to buy ‘Period Living’ magazine when I was a teenager and used to love looking at the amazing Victorian beaded lampshades – I think I was a geek before it was trendy!
Tell us about your business journey so far…
Well, I really wanted to start up making my own pieces when I was still at school. I remember my Mum taking me to meetings with the Princes Trust and other start up agencies when I was 16. I was one of those ‘dreamers’ the teachers just roll their eyes at – I was only really interested in studying art and music. Anyway, despite things looking really promising I ‘chickened out’ and ended up, like a lot of us, doing something I could ‘do’ but not something I ‘loved’ – I started a tiny screen printing company at the local AmDram society I helped backstage at, they needed some T-shirts printed and I knew how to do it (!) Before I knew it, I was up to my elbows in T-shirts (which for the record I dislike immensely!!) My dad was a self-employed plumber and electrician so the idea of working for a company seemed really alien to me. I genuinely thought ‘who would want to employ me?!’ so I felt my only option was to do something for myself! I did the printing for 5 years, hating the whole thing – the smelly ink, cold workshop in the winter and, most of all, the loneliness of it all. All the time I was still holding on to a little dream that things could change for me. Then in a complete change of direction I went to work within the IT Department of Essex Police (they were one of my print customers!) I worked my way up within the department and also started making jewellery again. It took off again with some very promising leads and I bottled it again – a familiar theme.
I went on mat leave very early 2009 and have been off since (apart from a very short 3 month part time stint between my two children!) The business ‘itch’ came back again at the beginning of this year and I suddenly found myself rediscovering my beading love. I’ve been steadily working on this every spare moment (as we all do) – whilst waiting for the spuds to boil, quick 10 minutes before pick up etc. I know that I really want to build this up – for myself and also to show my children that they should follow their dreams (clichéd I know but true!)
I’ve had great feedback and, considering the effort I’ve actually been able to put in so far, sales are great. My previous suppliers are all still in business and it’s great to be back with them and to discover some new ones too.
What excites you most about your business?
The beads and the people that love them – it’s that simple. I’m so lucky to have a stunning palette of materials to work from and I absolutely love finding the right stone, design, colour with a customer to create their perfect piece.
What’s the most challenging part of your business?
The selling – I tremble at the thought of going out there and selling myself/product – as the pieces are made by me it feels as if you are putting a little piece of yourself out there for criticism!
What are your plan for the future?
I would love to develop a website and get my pieces out there. I would also like to find some independent shops that would be willing to stock my work. Working with the customer to design bespoke pieces to go with an outfit etc is great so developing this aspect is also on the agenda.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to other Mums thinking about starting a business?
Be brave and if the dream refuses to fade – do it
Tell us why you got involved with CEO Mums
To be honest, I think I accidentally come across the Facebook page, it caught my eye and sounded like my kind of group – Like minded women trying to go for it whilst still keeping all the other balls in the air! I love the support aspect – one thing motherhood continues to teach me is that we all need each other.
Where can we find out more?
I’m hoping I’ll be in a position to get a website up and running by the end of this year.