The Tatty Devine founders on inspiring women in the jewellery biz.
As part of our Jewellery Girls Rule issue for July, Professional Jeweller heard from 21 females leading their sector of the UK jewellery industry about the challenges of today’s business, making their mark and their inspirations. First up we hear from the founders of Tatty Devine, Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden.
Professional Jeweller: The two of you founded one of the most successful costume jewellery brands to come out of the UK. What do you consider your biggest achievement to date as a business?
Harriet Vine: Receiving our MBEs is undoubtedly the proudest achievement of our careers to date. We’ve always been driven to create new, original and exciting jewellery, so to be formally recognised in this way is just incredible. Tatty Devine has become a small but important contributor to the UK economy, and we’re proud to represent British design and manufacturing around the world.
Rosie Wolfenden: It’s amazing to think that Tatty Devine started from a discarded bin bag full of leather samples. After graduating from Chelsea College of Art, where we both studied fine art, we turned the leather into wrist cuffs that we sold on our stalls at Portobello and Spitalfields markets. They quickly appeared in the Millennium issue of Vogue, alongside Galliano and Kate Moss, and we were soon selling to Harvey Nichols, Urban Outfitters and Whistles in the space of just a few months.
Nearly 14 years on, we have two London stores on Brick Lane and Monmouth Street, a concession in Selfridges London and our jewellery is stocked in over 250 outlets throughout the world. With year-on-year growth, we’ve more than doubled our turnover in the last three years, a trend we expect to see continue with the opening of new retail spaces in 2014.
We love fashion and everything that it encompasses: style, individualism, and expressing yourself. So we see our award as giving recognition to creativity in the broadest sense. Everything about Tatty Devine is a result of the collaboration and friendship between us, so it was a very special day.
PJ: Have you faced any challenges launching your own brand and winning respect from buyers, retailers and other designers in the industry?
HV: In some respects every step along the way has been a challenge but we’ve always done things the way we wanted and in a way that has felt natural to us, I think that is what has earned us the respect. We never wanted to design jewellery to please buyers, but we’ve always been authentic and true to our own aesthetics and vision. Opening our own shops gave us the freedom to write our own brief.
PJ: Do you actively seek to celebrate women through your designs, for example your jewellery designs reference everyone from Frida Kahlo to the Queen and the Hindu goddess Kali?
RW: We’ve never sat down and decided that it was our mission to promote women, but we whole-heartedly believe and are inspired by women, so it is not surprising that it comes out in our work so much. Both Harriet and I have always had a love of images of women, whether on a T- shirt, painting or book cover, so it is only natural that we enjoy making jewellery about women as well.
PJ: Who are your inspiring female figures in the world of design?
HV: Muiccia Prada, Vivienne Westwood, Lulu Kennedy, Mary Katrantzou, Zandra Rhodes. These are all strong women with their own distinct vision, which is generally about promoting individuality and celebrating women.
To read the Jewellery Girls Rule issue, dedicated to women in the jewellery industry, in full online, click here.