In this post I am going to profile Designers Eclectic (DE), a Manchester, UK based collective of jewelry designer-makers. DE is based in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre – see my previous profile of the Centre.
DE was launched in October 2009 by Jane Dziesiwski, Stephanie Brown, Sue Barry, Helen Pickering Pick, Michelle Appleton and Carly Townsend. The founding designers met while completing a Foundation Degree in Jewellery and Applied Arts in Manchester. The course was a turning point in the designers’ lives and some were turning their backs on successful careers to study. What the designers had in common was passion for their work and the drive to succeed in a new field making unique jewelry and accessories. DE was borne out of this passion and upon graduating the students decided to form the collective to support each other moving forward.
DE’s aim is to design and produce unique handmade jewellery and accessories. The six DE designers produce very varied work, even when working to identical briefs, which means that the collective offers a wide range of work catering for a variety of tastes and budgets. The collective was extremely brave in deciding to launch a new business during one of the worst recessions in history! In order to keep overheads low, DE looked to MCAD for studio space. As the Centre offers affordable rents and great support services, it was an obvious choice. In addition, DE was able to secure both studio and retail space, meaning that the designers can make the jewelry on-site, often while customers watch.
“Being part of the community within Manchester Craft & Design Centre has been a fantastic experience. The other tenants have been really welcoming, and now I actually look forward to going to work”, says Stephanie Brown.
“We get lots of support from the office too”, adds Jane Dziesiwski. “The industry is surprisingly small and Kate Day, MCAD Director, always makes sure that we know about up-and-coming opportunities and events”
DE finds that working in a collective offers a number of benefits, including reduced overheads and getting inspiration from each other. The responsibility of staffing the studio is also shared, meaning that messy processes such as etching and using resin can be done off the premises and the more customer-friendly silversmithing and textiles work can be carried out within MCAD.
The only downside to the business is lack of time, a sentiment I am sure many other designer-makers would echo. The designers are all extremely busy individuals and are each heavily active in regional groups and networks, including MCAD, Manchester Jewellers’ Network and the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. However, the collective has found rewarding careers turning a passion into a profitable business and I for one am envious.