Inspiring Enterprise Portsmouth | Startup
Handcrafted jewellery business has sparkling future
S&S Designs creates bespoke jewellery designs, wedding sets and memorial pieces. The company is the brainchild of partners Sabrina Simmons and Steven Parrott and was borne out of Sabrina deciding on a career change during the COVID-19 pandemic. The couple had thought about upscaling their jewellery-making hobby into a business but didn’t know where to look for support. As luck would have it, Sabrina’s dad had used WSX Enterprise’s support to apply for a grant in the past and recommended the organisation to her.
Hobby into a business
Although Steven had been dabbling in making jewellery, he still had a full-time job. However, Sabrina found she had time on her hands and the natural step was to go to WSX and ultimately the Inspiring Enterprise Portsmouth project for business support.
Initially, the couple were simply creating their handcrafted jewellery for friends and family as a hobby. At this point, they would design a piece for the ‘customer’, purchase the resin mould/raw materials and would keep these without charging for the work. Julie Stevenson, Business Advisor from Inspiring Enterprise Portsmouth has since helped them to upscale the hobby into a business.
A unique offering
Sabrina explains that, particularly for the memorial jewellery, she believes their unique selling point is that they have something to offer, where the larger companies may not,
“Memorial Jewellery can be expensive and quite generic, produced for a mass-market. Whereas we create bespoke designs and can offer it in handcrafted wood – particularly popular with men – or in stainless steel, where prices start at just £60/£70, much more affordable than what is currently on the market.”
In fact, Sabrina says that they posted a wooden jewellery design on Facebook and found that they were inundated with requests. The funeral directors that the couple has worked with also believe that their affordable range is easier to offer to their clients even if it’s a small keepsake or a keyring, especially for an elderly widow or widower where money may be tight.
For a higher-end product, they have created a particular technique where the crystals are crushed and added to complimentary opal and diamond dust, or for a memorial piece, a loved one’s ashes. It is then all set into a disc and carved into jewellery or set into a pendant.
They can offer other bespoke designs as well. For example, for parents they can incorporate all their children’s birthstones into one piece which creates a completely unique piece of jewellery.
Support from Inspiring Enterprise Portsmouth
Julie helped the couple gain focus on what they wanted to do as a business, as Sabrina says,
“When we first met with Julie, we had a very basic business plan but no idea what to do next. Julie discussed with us what we wanted to achieve, how we were going to do things and helped formulate a detailed business plan. She helped us to focus on short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.”
“Julie’s structure and guidance was invaluable. We knew what to do, we just didn’t know how. She took us through the process step by step to make us a more proficient and effective business.”
S&S Designs have recently signed up with two local funeral directors who will display their brochures and some stock for display. Their goal is to have a presence in every funeral director in Portsmouth and eventually the UK!
They also have stands booked at two local fayres where the organisers have waived their exhibiting fee, as they were so keen for S&S Designs to be there. In fact, Sabrina has found that many people locally have supported their venture,
“After COVID, we found that people want to support local businesses. For example, a local ring box supplier has always been supportive and interested in what we do and has supplied their boxes to us at cost.”
Sabrina’s top tips
Sabrina has found that even people in the jewellery business were happy to give them advice, so her top tip would be,
“Never be scared to ask for advice.”
But with Julie’s support, they have also realised it’s important stay on top of their ideas,
“Mind-mapping and action plans are important. When we began, we had multiple notebooks, but I believe that it’s really important to track your thoughts, give yourself time to step back and look at all your ideas so that you can make them into a business. Structuring your time is also necessary. Be disciplined with time management. Have daily and weekly tasks – this is invaluable when starting out, when you want to achieve so many different things.”
Sabrina is keen for the business to be family-run and hopes her 20-year-old daughter will join them soon as an apprentice to learn their unique trade. They have not quite finished with Julie’s business support yet and are going to talk to her about marketing the company more, but Sabrina is full of praise for the support of WSX,
“We’d like to thank WSX for all their support in the setup of our business. It has been a really good experience.”
Inspiring Enterprise Portsmouth
WSX Enterprise Ltd is a business support organisation delivering a number of projects across the South of England one of which is Inspiring Enterprise in Portsmouth (also known as the Solent Supporting Employment Programme). This project supports unemployed people to set up their own business, find a job or enrol in a training course. It is funded by the European Social Fund and the Solent Supporting Employment programme run by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Fund.
If you are unemployed or inactive (not earning), suffer or have suffered from health issues and live in the Portsmouth area you may be eligible for support in starting your business. Please visit the webpage on this website for more details.