1. Who are you and where do you come from?!
I’m Leila, I’m based in South East London. I’ve pretty much lived around here my whole life, so haven’t travelled very far!
2. How did your brand arrive into the world and where did the name come from?
I studied BA Jewellery at Sir John Cass and after graduating I spent a few years making for prestigious established jewellers. Although I was working full time I still made my own designs and in 2014 I decided to go it alone (before I had any responsibilities!). I’ve always used my name Leila Swift as my business name, as I design and make everything myself it made sense just to keep it as me.
3. What are the biggest challenges you face as a small business?
The biggest challenge is doing everything yourself! I pretty much do every side of my business, from designing to bookkeeping, from making to PR, I do it all. Balancing time out so that you make space for the more boring tasks can be difficult, it’s always tempting to sit down at the work bench rather than do a tax return, but over the years I’ve got better at planning my time.
4. What have been your biggest HURRAH moments so far?
I always love seeing people that I don’t know wearing my jewellery. Of course it’s lovely when people I do know are wearing pieces, but it gives me an extra special hurrah when it’s a random stranger walking past me in the street.
- Stick at it! It’s very easy to get disheartened in the early days if you have a quiet month, but things always go back up. Once you’ve been running your business for more than a year or two you start to see patterns in sales.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I still find this hard sometimes, but it’s essential when you’re in it alone.
- Try to relax and stop worrying. I’m yet to achieve this one! I’m a real worrier, but the problems I’ve encountered are very rarely the ones I’ve laid awake panicking about.
I’ve got a two year old daughter so at the moment I’m trying not to set myself too ambitious goals. But there are a few very prestigious fairs which I’d love to have a stand at in the future.
I’d love to have my jewellery in Liberty. Their jewellery department has a selection of amazing designers, it would be a dream to be among them.
A lot of people are very surprised I hand make all my jewellery myself, I think they assume I would get it made in a factory like a lot of bigger brands. It would be cheaper for me if I did get it made abroad, but it’s such an integral part of my business I could never do that, and plus it’s the bit I love the most.
There are a few famous people who I would love to see wearing a piece of Leila Swift jewellery…
I think it would be difficult to beat a caramel digestive (has to have been in the fridge though!)
When I started I would talk myself out of it, saying things like "you can't do that you don't know enough about it" or "you can't do that you don't have a degree in design/business."
But that isn't the case, I have learnt so much from teaching myself. You can learn anything online.
So I guess the misconception is that you need to be an expert in everything before you start but you dont, you can learn as you go.
My one wish for the brand?..
That its legacy continues to support independent makers from Frome and raises awareness of the shop local movement and supports the local economy.