Pixie Lott is one celebrity that wears Norwich jewellery designs
From living room tabletop start-up to global brand, Norwich jewellery business Eclectic Eccentricity has come a long way in five years. STACIA BRIGGS spoke to owner Lucy Averill.
Lucy Averill used to study the stars in the sky, now the unique jewellery she makes in Norwich is being worn by the stars themselves.
The 30-year-old, who has a degree in maths and astronomy from Leicester University, runs Eclectic Eccentricity, an online treasure trove of fabulous jewellery, most of which is lovingly made from quirky vintage pieces she sources from around the globe.
From celluloid roses to intricate old lockets, vintage hair combs to cameos, pocket watch charms to intricate beads, the range has attracted jewellery magpies keen to own something decidedly different, as well as a host of celebrity clients.
Lucy first sold her quirky and cute creations at her mother's former gift shop, Curiosity Killed The Cat, in Wymondham.
'When I was younger, I used to make bits and pieces – some na�ve bracelets, that kind of thing,' she said.
'I fancied getting back into it so I made a few items and was really pleased when they sold quite well.
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'When the shop closed in January 2007, I decided to really go for it and set up my own jewellery business. There'd be times when I'd be selling one piece of �3.99 jewellery every few days and wondering what on earth I'd got myself into.'
Eclectic Eccentricity went live in March 2007 and a few months later was featured on the Daily Candy website, which champions the very best of the web. Within hours, Lucy was swamped with orders.
'It was the best and the worst month of my life!' she laughed.
'The orders were flowing in and I was living, eating and breathing jewellery. I was making necklaces in my sleep. There were about 250 orders on the very first day and I had to call on everyone who could help to come and give me a hand. It was crazy!'
The orders saved the business in the nick of time.
Just before the flurry of requests, Lucy had been interviewed for a position as a sales assistant at a Norwich clothes store.
'I came back after the interview and my inbox was stuffed with orders,' she remembers.
'I got on the phone to my sister Alice and said: 'please come and help me now! I'll pay for the taxi!' I ended up asking my mum Susan and dad John to help too. It turned into a family production line.'
Lucy's jewellery is an eclectic mix of vintage finds sourced from around the globe teamed with new fixings to produce hugely original and unusual pieces. 'For me, it's about finding something really special, something with its own history and then creating a new story for it,' she said.
Eclectic Eccentricity's range of jewellery, which ranges in price from as little as �4 to �38, is now stocked by more than 50 retailers in the UK, including Glory Days on Wensum Street in Norwich, and in shops across the world, from Japan and China to America and Europe.
Celebrity clients abound, with Eliza Doolittle, Paloma Faith, Pixie Lott and Peaches Geldof confirmed fans who are often photographed wearing Lucy's creations. Reality shows have also snapped up her work.
'We recently gave some jewellery to The Only Way is Essex, which I was very excited about! Next month, we're hoping to target Made In Chelsea, too,' said Lucy.
Lucy now employs three members of staff who work with her at the company's Magdalen Street office.
'I spend most of my time designing jewellery and dealing with marketing, which are the elements of the business that I enjoy the most,' she said.
'At the moment, I'm working on designs for next spring and summer, which seems like madness, but means that we're prepared in advance. I don't really follow fashions as such, I follow my heart and what I like and hope that everyone follows with me!'
Lucy still gets 'stupidly excited' if she sources a new vintage find which she knows will make a spectacular piece of jewellery.
'This morning, we had a delivery from a warehouse in New York and just looking through the box gave me a real thrill,' she said.
'Sometimes you buy something and you just know that it'll sell brilliantly – like when I found a huge amount of tortoiseshell plastic hair combs from the 1960s and it tapped into the whole Mad Men look which was popular.
'We'll soon have these wonderful brass spinners online which let you choose which side you see when you're wearing a necklace, so you can change the look. They're from the 1950s. When I find wonderful one-off pieces, my heart sings.'
Recently, Lucy's work has been bought by The National Gallery, which now stocks around eight pieces of her jewellery and more expensive one-off pieces which sell for around �140.
'I was over-the-moon when The National Gallery got in contact with me about selling my jewellery and it's now a regular client – I've been told the jewellery is one of the most popular things in the shop,' said Lucy.
'Sometimes I have to stop and think to myself just how far the business has come. It seems to have legs of its own these days. It's the little things that make you think: the other day, some of my jewellery was on This Morning. Phillip Schofield looked at my jewellery! Amazing…'