Designer Spotlight: Ria Rees
A BRIEF STORY OF WHAT YOU DO AND WHY YOU DO IT
I’ve had a long-lived passion for the written word, in fact as a teenager I aspired to be a published author. The novel is still in the works, but at the moment I indulge my passion by crafting personalized jewellery with messages of love, hope and remembrance. My business is still relatively new, being only a year old, but it continues to grow and I continue to speak with new clients every day, each with their own personal story. It’s an honour to be involved in the preservation of such special memories.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO JEWELRY DESIGN?
I’m self-taught, meaning I’m one of those annoying people who used to hunt about on YouTube, Google and jewellery magazines for tutorials and DIY ideas. At some point, I stopped doing-it-myself and started thinking about tools and techniques I could use to make the designs that were starting to invade my thoughts during the day. I’m still learning, but I’m more adventurous now than I was twelve months ago. Who knows what I’ll end up experimenting with over the coming year?
WHAT MAKES YOUR COLLECTION UNIQUE?
The customer. I like to think that I’m providing a series of canvasses for the customer to paint on. All of my pieces are fully customisable, and I work on a small scale, so that every new client who approaches me has my undivided attention. I work with each of them to create a piece which is unique to them, every step of the way.
There are a multitude of stores around that make stamped jewellery, to the point that many might say it’s a saturated market. There are plenty of whom I admire and respect, but plenty who are simply making the exact same pieces as the store next door to them. I like to think that I put my unique spin on ideas – that I’m not simply making the exact same pieces as every other stamping store around.
WHAT ARE YOUR INSPIRATIONS?
My business name is “Elfen Hardd”. This is the Welsh translation for “Beautiful Element”. I'm inspired by all the elements around me – the interplay between water and rock, the geometric shapes on a cliff-side, the pattern fire will leave on a piece of metal all of which I see around my home in rural South Wales. Not to mention, the multitude of plants and animals that surround me in my daily life. I feel truly blessed to live in such a beautiful country.
Aside from this, I’ve always loved writing and the written word in general: words can give us hope, inspiration and comfort when we need it the most. The idea of creating jewellery which would allow people to carry this inspiration around
HOW ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE?
Working one on one with customers exposes me to a myriad of inspirational stories and people. I’ve designed pieces for Cancer survivors, devoted mothers, grieving families, and people who simply wanted to carry around a few words of support – a daily affirmation. It is impossible to work so closely with these people and not take something on board. Every client I meet has influenced me, in some way, to enjoy the things I love more, and let go of the things that aren’t worth my time.
WHAT'S SOMETHING UNUSUAL ABOUT YOU THAT MAKES YOU “YOU”?
I cannot stop experimenting. I learn one technique and get the necessary tools, and as soon as I get to grips with it, I’m on to the next! It’s difficult to slow myself down at times, and focus on the details before moving on and adding new designs to my inventory.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE IN RUNNING YOUR JEWELRY BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS? OR WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS IN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS?
At the moment the hardest part for me is that I still work full time for my father’s company, helping him to grow and expand the business (and getting a proper salary while I’m at it). It’s a necessity at the moment for financial purposes, but there are times that I inevitably suffer from burnout due to devoting so much of my free time to Elfen Hardd. The upshot of this is that as I learn through my own business, I start applying those lessons to my father’s company too – advertising & social media strategies, web design, pricing, all these lessons apply to both businesses, and I feel more passion for my day job than I ever used to nowadays.