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Eclectic Eccentricity Jewelry || Meet the Maker

Ben Ashby







EE Jewelry or its formal name Eclectic Eccentricity is one of our favorite jewelry makers! Known for their nature themed styles and wonderfully fun photography we knew we had to learn more about this brand and the makers behind it!


How did you get started creating handmade jewelry? Honestly, I was stuck in a job I didn't enjoy and was really seeking a creative refugee that my head could escape to.  I had some gemstones and pieces in a box and just started - it really was that straight forward. When I ran out of gemstones, I ordered more; when they arrived, I was so excited that I got up at 2am to make them into necklaces because my brain was too buzzy with excitement. The buzzy brain never really went away, 13 years later I still have it.





Were you always interested in jewelry? I was always interested in design and how things fit together, ratios and symmetry - and playing with asymmetry. I come from a maths and science background, it's what I studied at university, so I think that analytical approach has influenced the designs! 


Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it? I wouldn't say I always knew I'd start my own brand, but I did always know, on a very gut level, that I'd do something different from the 9-5. At the time, I was aspiring to be an astronaut or work as an astrophysicist at NASA, but I'm still waiting for NASA to call. When I first began making jewelry, I quickly started developing ideas as to where I could take the business; I was working as a manager of a shop at the time so I started selling through the store and gradually over the next few months, the brand started gaining traction. I had a huge opportunity when a few months later I was featured by the website Daily Candy - overnight, sales went through the roof. It took a lot of work though, I gave up my job and my life to make the brand work. 18 hour days became my normal and there was never a moment where I didn't obsess over the smallest detail of things.


How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots? Initially all the designs were my own as the business was largely run solo, but the team has now grown so we tend to work collaboratively on ideas. EE has very much become a brand which all of the team is a part of - everyone brings something different to the table so it's really pieces of all of us. From hiking to astronomy to our furry friends at home and travelling to far flung places, the pieces we create represent all the things that make our hearts beat. Our tag line is 'for the inquisitive of heart and inquiring of mind' and it's a motto we stick closely to when working on new concepts. Each piece tells a story.






What are your inspirations? How do your hobbies influence what you make? Is it cliched to say anything and everything? It's difficult to pin point precise inspirations, I think ideas come naturally and you don't necessarily know where from. I think we all try to fill our time with the things we love - being out in the wilds, walking the dogs, going out for long runs. These are the moments where your brain ticks it all over, the best ideas come when you're most yourself and filling up that happiness tank with fresh air gives the mind freedom to wander a bit. We're incredibly lucky and our studio has a huge balcony with incredible views over the city; we have tables and comfy seats so at lunch you can pop out, do some yoga or just enjoy your lunch in the sunshine. Without fail, we all feel revived and connected for the afternoon and that's the best inspiration there is.







What has been your biggest lesson?  This is easy - hiring the right people. A brand is only as good as the people behind it - you can have the best brand identity in the world but if you've got the wrong team it's impossible. If your team can't connect, how could your customer? Over the years there has been a lot of trial and error and going from a place where the company was a one woman band to suddenly having to share that load with others has been a tricky one. It's never something I'll perfect, but I try to trust my gut when taking on new people. Really, it's about knowing your tribe and putting together a group of people who are reading from the same page. You work with the same few people every day for 5 days a week, you have to get on and you have to know how the others work. We're an incredibly close team (seriously, sometimes we're all like those 'cute' couples who finish each others sentences) but that level of understanding has come from knowing each other so well and all working towards the same goal. I never thought I'd have a group of people work for me who cared and were as emotionally invested in my brand as I am. I've had to make some tough choices and there's the lesson - don't do harm, be kind, but make sure you hire the right people (no pressure).





What's your favorite thing about sharing EE Jewelry with others?  Seeing it all over the world! EE has so many international customers, from people who buy direct from our website to those who buy via our little army of stockists, seeing how far we can make the EE net reach is exciting. It's like a community and that makes my face beam rainbows. On the other end of the spectrum, seeing our pieces being worn in our own neck of the woods is so, so, so amazing, I can't even begin to tell you. I was walking home from the office recently and walked past a girl wearing our 'You Cannot Be Cirrus' necklace; it was all I could do to not say something. It's not an exaggeration or a sales line to say that every piece is made with so much love and care. Our relationship with our customers is paramount and the wonderful feedback we get makes us so happy.



What's been your best advice you've been given? Many years ago when the business was first starting to expand, it was stressful and I struggled. I was finding it hard to know how to structure my days efficiently and suddenly I had a major high street retailer in the UK calling me in for a meeting. It was scary, I felt stuck and I had zero experience.  A friend called Jason said "say yes, you'll make it work later". So I did and it worked. Tina Fey said something similar a few years after that with "say yes, and you'll figure it out afterwards". Guessing she and Jason must have had a chat at some point. It's by far the best piece of advice I've been given - because 100%, you'll always figure it out.





What's been your biggest challenge? The downside of saying yes means sometimes you are left in a pickle.

The scaling up of the business is a challenge. Knowing those tipping points, when it's time to start investing more both in terms of money and time, is vital. I guess it comes down to your gut again - most of my business decisions are gut based with a small basis of paperwork and numbers! Working with big international companies is challenging, they bring with them their own demands which can affect how you choose to run your business, not to mention how huge orders can play with your cash flow when a 6 week wait for payment is the expected. It's all good though, running a business is the harshest learning curve but it makes you learn hard and fast!