image credit – @rrosiero
splint: hello Lennie, thank you so much for being interviewed and chatting with us today. Tell us a little about yourself…
Lennie: no problem! I am a jeweller, I generally make sterling silver pieces which are quite contemporary in style, quite minimal and very easy to where – so everyone, from all ages can wear my designs. I started making jewellery after I graduated, I studied Design and Craft in Brighton which was awesome. I learnt to work with wood, metal, ceramics and plastics allowing myself to gain so many skills and then be able to choose which ones I fancied. By the end of third year I was making jewellery using metal, silicone and a tiny bit of wood which was super fun.
splint: did you go to university straight away?
Lennie: i did a foundation year in Norwich which was lovely. I knew I wanted to do something in design at university and the foundation year really helped that. My degree in Design and Craft was really an extension of that, because you don’t really have to think about what to do for the rest of you life straight away, you have time to play.
splint: doing design is super creative and you have a lot of freedom to express yourself through it… Did you design your first collection while studying?
Lennie: no, so, my final project was exploring superstitions and looking at the movements that superstitions ask of you and how it is slightly ridiculous, so it was kind of like asking why we do them? I made functional non functional pieces, for example I made two rings that fitted on the end of your fingers with a bit of string which you would pull and it would make your fingers cross. I had always made functional things and when it came to my final project, I realised I was making things that had no real use, were humourous and you would use them with a sense of irony. I was looking at how contemporary crafts use humour to create modern pieces.
splint: what do you do in your spare time? Or are you always making jewellry?
Lennie: I work at the Playhouse a few shifts a week which gives me a little extra money, I have been making jewellry for 2 or 3 years but it is such a long process to become sufficient from it. I’m a really sociable person and sometimes being in the studio can be quite lonely, so working at the bar gives me that level of social interaction! Everyone I work with at The Playhouse is so creative and has their own projects going on, so we are able to chat and help each other out.
splint: so where do you see your business going? Do you have a plan for it?
Lennie: when I left uni 4 years ago my dream was to make bizarre contemporary jewellery, with wearable pieces being the money maker. But in reality that is really fucking hard and a bit of a dream. I really want to get back to experimenting with different materials and I have realised I am so inspired by colour, working with metal can sometimes be slightly limiting. I am looking into doing an enameling course to add some colour to my jewellery.
splint: do you miss being in brighton?
Lennie: not really. Norwich is so creative and such a wonderful community and I think in Brighton it is so expensive you have to work to live and live to work. If I had stayed there I wouldn’t have been able to stay creative and I think that is the same with a lot of people there. I was excited about moving back to Norwich because and be able to afford to be creative. Although I do think it is really important to move away, I really don’t think I would be where I am now if i hadn’t moved away, I met amazing people and my course was incredible. Being in a position where my home is a place I want to live is amazing.
splint: you have just shot your new lookbook? How was that process and what’s happening with it?
Lennie: It was fueled by the fact I was doing the Most Curious Wedding Fair at the end of March which was really exciting. It is a collective of women coming together and saying weddings don’t have to be dull, poncy and classic, they can be bohemian, modern, simplistic and anything you want it to be! I worked with them a little bit before and they invited me to come back! Being invited to be part of it again made me want to create a new collection, not specifically for brides but that’s something that inspired my ideas. The shapes are linked to horse shoes which are an emblem for good luck in marriage, I knew instantly I wanted to work with my photographer @JoanieJoanieWilson who takes the most beautiful images. She studied photography and works loads in 35mm film. She has an amazing eye and is so inspiring – she gets so excited and it’s exactly what I needed. The model is our friend Monica who is super gorgeous and it became a little collective of amazing women who are in my life all working together towards a common goal.
splint: it is so nice to hear about women working together and helping each other out!
Lennie: I had my friend and amazing hair stylist Deb Dominic help me with the hair. We put a shout out for a makeup artist and Meriel was awesome – she just had her second baby and they both came to the photo shoot, made me mega broody!
splint: do you want to do more lookbooks and shoots?
Lennie: the way that I like to design is in collections and coming up with an idea and then putting it out to the world! The collections show journeys in my designs. I am hoping to make a mens collection, because there isn’t a huge amount of good mens jewellry out there that I know of and really like. There is an australian designer called Seb Brown who is amazing and he makes androgynous jewellery with masculine influences. Saying I’m thinking of making a mens collection sounds like I’ve gendered my previous work but the first ever necklace that I made and sold was to a man in the USA.
splint: did you find when you were at uni and now that the industry is very female orientated? I don’t know any men making jewellry.. How did you find that?
Lennie: my course isn’t specifically jewellry design but there were still lots more women than men! – and we were doing wood work and heavy metal work, which is really interesting considering we were working in environments which used to be associated with men. It was amazing. It was so nice being surrounded by empowered women, like ‘we run these workshops’. I think generally most of the jewellry scenes is to do with women, i think that it is a craft that you can tinker with and get into slowly – which happens to link well with being a mum or having a baby. You can fit it into and around you existing life.
splint: Do you think that going to uni was an important part of knowing what you want to do? Because I know a lot of people now who aren’t going to uni again..
Lennie: … because it is so bloody expensive! I think the thing that people are realising is that you don’t have to go to uni as soon as you finish school and that is such a valuable thing to realise! You should have an idea of what you want to do before you do it, why spend so much money on a degree if you don’t really know what you want to do your degree in?!!? I think going to university is a really important part of my journey but that comes from the fact that my course was so experimental.
splint: it is so nice talking to someone who know what makes them happy and it has been so lovely talking to you.
Lennie: it’s great to meet you and be part of a new community!
splint: thank you so much for talking to us! You’re amazing and you’re smashing it!