Uplifting and Inspirational Jewelry
Creativity runs through her veins. We sit down with Sarah Gallagher, jewelry designer and proud owner of Gallagher’s Boutique and Grace Gallagher Bridal. Sarah depicts how being surrounded by the right people and finding an artistic purpose is key for success. Life can sometimes knock us down but she chose to stand back up and dedicate her talent to others, bringing a sprinkle of joy and beauty to their lives through each creation.
Carrying on a Legacy
Sarah Gallagher – Founder of Gallagher’s Boutique
You followed your grandfather’s steps and became a jeweler. Is he still inspiring you today in a way?
I would say so. Sadly, my grandfather passed away when my mother was just a teenager so I never got to meet him. I always loved hearing stories about him and was fascinated when my mum told me he owned a jewelry shop in Buckinghamshire, England. As a child, I used to imagine him sitting in the back of his shop, lovingly engraving precious jewelry by hand. I was so enchanted by this image that I decided I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I even remember asking my mum for a calligraphy set one Christmas so that I could perfect my handwriting.
Unfortunately, as I got older I came to realize my handwriting was never going to be neat enough to take up engraving by hand. To this day my writing can be mistaken for a 5-year-old child’s! However, I’ve continued to be inspired by my grandad and have found other ways to create unique and personalized pieces. When I create a new product I usually start by asking myself, what do people absolutely adore and how can I represent that in a piece of jewelry? Many of my products come attached to gift cards with cute, funny or sentimental messages and I also allow customers to personalize the cards with their own messages.
You seem very attached to family values and friendship. Can you tell us more about what it means to you?
Family and friendship means a lot to me. I come from a large family (I have 6 siblings) and we’re all very close. They’ve always been there for me and encouraged me to do what makes me happy. I never would have had the confidence to start my own business if it wasn’t for the support of friends and family. In fact, a lot of the products I have made were designed with them in mind.
I’m very lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people. I’m never short of offers to help me with orders during busy periods, or suggestions for new products. Sometimes I organize little crafternoon sessions. It’s a great way to get friends involved (and a good excuse to have a glass of wine and catch up). They love getting involved!
How do you keep progressing?
Progression is a tough one when you work alone. It can be easy to fall into your own little routine and stop pushing yourself. To avoid this, I review my products regularly to see if there are any ways I can improve my designs and the production process. I also try to regularly create new products, particularly ones that involve learning different techniques. To learn a new technique, I usually watch online tutorial videos and practice until I have perfected it.
How did you decide to ‘specialize’ in bridal accessories?
The first shop I set up, Gallagher’s Boutique, specialized in giftable jewelry. As my shop grew I started to challenge myself by learning new techniques and creating more complicated pieces. I taught myself how to wire-wrap and started to play around with new ideas. The first piece I made was a hair comb inspired by the gypsophila flower (or baby’s breath). Not only was the comb very delicate but it took a lot of time and patience to make so I decided that it was more suited to Occasion Wear which didn’t really fit in with my other shop products.
Then I decided to open a second shop, Grace Gallagher Bridal, dedicated to bridal accessories. I consulted my twin sister who is a hairdresser and specializes in bridal hair and she agreed to help me with the designs and test out my products. Since then I have been steadily growing my product range and experimenting with new materials. I now make a variety of hair combs, pins, tiaras and matching bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
What is the next technique you want to nail?
I would love to learn how to make rings. I had a private lesson with a jeweler in North London a few years ago and loved it. She helped me make my own ring and it was very satisfying. Ideally, I would need to invest in more space for a workshop before learning this skill but it’s something I hope to work towards in the near future.
Who is your Jewelry Guru and what do you like about his/her work?
That’s tough. There are so many talented jewelry designers out there. Most recently I would say Hermione Harbutt has been my guru, especially since I started to develop my bridal range. I first discovered her when she created a stunning hairpiece for my sister’s wedding back in 2013 and I’ve been following her work ever since. I love how delicate and unique her designs are and also how she takes inspiration from nature with many of her pieces.
Is there a particular creation that gave you a hard time? Would you like to tell us which one and share a picture of it?
The product that presented the biggest challenge was actually one of my best-sellers. A few years ago, I was playing around with ideas for Christmas gifts for Gallagher’s Boutique using materials I had going spare. The result was a set of Christmas tree ornaments made from miniature glass bottles, glitter and charms. I was very happy with the design and particularly loved the way the glitter sparkled with the fairy lights on the tree.
The problem only presented itself after I had started to sell quite a few of them. Despite carefully wrapping each bottle in masses of bubble wrap, somehow about 5% of the bottles I had sold were mysteriously breaking during the shipping process. It took a lot of head scratching and vigorous shaking of the bottles to discover that it was actually the charms inside them that were hitting the glass and causing the breakages in transit.
I knew I had to come up with a creative way to solve the problem and I decided to turn the bottles into a DIY Christmas ornament set. The actual DIY part is very simple and only involves putting the glitter in the bottles so I added in a set of instructions to turn it into a fun little activity. The kit turned out to be a big hit and my customers regularly comment on how they enjoyed putting the bottles together themselves.
What project are you working on right now?
My work has taken a bit of a back seat since August as I gave birth to my first child, Edward. However, saying that I never really stop working (I even worked the day I went into labor). If I’m not making products I constantly have ideas for projects whirring around in my head.
Since I opened my first shop I have been donating a percentage of my profits to the mental health charity Mind every month. Supporting this charity is really important to me so my next project will undoubtedly be something to help raise awareness of mental health.
What has your recent maternity brought to your art?
Being on maternity has given me a new appreciation for how precious time is! During my pregnancy and since having my baby I’ve had to learn to slow down which has been difficult for me as I like being productive and working at a fast pace. This might have something to do with the fact that I previously worked for the advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi so I’m used to working in a very fast-paced environment!
Now that I have very little spare time on my hands I’ve become more focused on refining ideas, improving existing products and planning ahead mentally. This is a positive thing for me because sometimes when you’re working at such a fast pace you can get stuck in a routine and fail to progress.
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Written by Keenobby