Launching a new business venture can be a challenging time for any aspiring entrepreneur. For Camilla Cottle she faced an even bigger hurdle – the first wave of the global pandemic hit just weeks after she launched her sustainable jewellery brand The Silver Stable.
Designer and entrepreneur Camilla Cottle launched her luxury jewellery brand from her kitchen table in the spring of 2020, just as lockdown started. Undeterred, she continued to develop her business.
“In a way, I was so fortunate to have something positive to focus on during the months that followed,” she says. “Of course, I was incredibly anxious about what was and what could be but designing and making the pieces gave me escapism from the grim reality we were all going through.”
“Growing up, I had always been drawn to beautiful shiny things! Even as a child, my dressing up box was filled with my mother’s costume jewellery, which I would covet and wear whenever possible!”
A fan of slow fashion, Camilla knew she wanted to produce beautiful, high-quality pieces of jewellery that had longevity. However, she was also very conscious that mining silver and gold has an immense impact on the environment.
“It can be hugely destructive and creates quite a lot of waste. Also, growing up on a farm in the Lancashire countryside, I have always appreciated the environment in which we live and the beauty of the countryside.”
Combining her vision of creating luxury whilst being environmentally conscious, Camilla developed her unique approach and methods, creating individual contemporary jewellery pieces handcrafted in the UK using recycled sterling silver and 9-carat gold.
“I design with longevity in mind. Each piece is handcrafted and made to order, so there is minimal waste. This might mean a small delay to our customers from order to finished product, but our customers appreciate that every piece is individual and unique and made especially for them.
“Nothing is mass-produced, imported or machine manufactured and we’ve built up a loyal band of customers because of this.”
This loyal band of customers first emerged during lockdown to Camilla’s initial surprise.
“I hadn’t anticipated growth in those first few months,” she says. “However, as the pandemic began to take hold, I think people started looking for comfort and doing something for themselves during the lockdown.”
This introspective view on consumerism then gave way to purchasing personalised gifts for others.
“There was then a definite shift from customers buying pieces for themselves to sending personalised gifts to friends and family members, with whom they were unable to connect in person. The jewellery gifts became the link and cemented the bond between loved ones.”
Being involved at this level enabled Camilla to build strong customer relationships during those early days. But it’s her ethical and sustainable stance that continues to see the business grow. This extends to The Silver Stable’s business cards and luxury gift packaging, made from FSC certified cards.
“Small details like that are important to me”, explains Camilla
“As a mother of a young toddler, I do worry about my son’s future and the planet, so I try to run my business as ethically and sustainably as I possibly can.”
This ethos applies to not only her business but also Camilla’s lifestyle.
“Growing up on a farm not only made me appreciate the countryside and the environment but it also made me conscious of the importance of shopping local and supporting British-made products. Not only does it support our local, small businesses but it also helps reduce air miles and the impact it has on the environment travelling products all over the country. I now always try to buy British-made products from local, smaller businesses where possible as I know how much it means to smaller brands, and it reduces the impact I am having on the environment as an individual.”
The collection reflects this amalgamation of country life and fashion, with references to equestrianism, found weaving their way into bold contemporary designs.
“Horses are and always have been a huge part of my life so when I started The Silver Stable, I knew that I had to incorporate them into my business and the designs for the silver stable somehow. I always find myself returning to my equestrian heritage during the design process.”
These details can be seen obviously in some pieces, which feature a classic horseshoe or stirrup iron. For other designs, it is more subtle – with rope engraving inspired by a halter lead rope.
“I have to personally love and want to wear every piece I design and make. Otherwise, it won’t make the cut. If I don’t love it, how can I expect others to?”
Mixing metals adds another element to the brand’s uniqueness. “Silver and gold work just work so well together. I often wear a mix of both, so these combined individual pieces just pull everything together so beautifully.”
Having survived and thrived during the pandemic, what is her advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
“If you want something, you have to go out and get it. You can’t sit and wait for it to come to you. You have to take the leap of faith and not look back if you want to create something special. Making jewellery is very much that – special. Turning the raw materials into something that looks so beautiful and that people love really is something extraordinary. It really is my addiction. From the first day of my jewellery training, I knew that I had to take the leap of faith and throw myself fully into this. From that day onwards, I never looked back.”
Follow Camilla Cottle on Instagram at @thesilverstablejewellery.