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Why I decided to start my own jewellery business

Millie Hand, 29, from Brighton, designs and makes jewellery through her business Rat Betty. 

When I was 24/25 I was living in London working as a project manager, I enjoyed living in London and some parts of my job, but couldn’t imagine doing it forever.

I signed up for a council-run evening course in Hammersmith for basic silversmithing and really loved it.

My partner and I were desperate to live abroad, so we got visas to Canada, which seemed like the perfect time to change careers.

The start of Rat Betty

I got a job at a local jewellers to learn as much as possible, I worked evenings and weekends on my own designs and it was during this time Rat Betty was born!

I studied business in my degree and really loved the idea of working for myself one day doing something I loved, which I’m really lucky to have found.

What I enjoy about jewellery design

I love listening to music, developing sketches or reference images and beginning the process of carving a block of wax to create the design (the process is lost wax casting if you’re interested!).

I find it so rewarding and peaceful. Seeing how the piece comes out when it’s been cast is so exciting.

There are so many jewellery processes I still have to learn, so I love the fact you combine techniques to create something totally unique, I love how there is still such a long way to go to becoming an expert and with time and commitment you’re always growing and improving at it.

Rat Betty’s pieces

What inspires me

All sorts of things I think, films, music, being around art or other creative people. I love the Holly Tucker podcast where she interviews founders and they tell their stories. If I’m feeling slow on a Monday that always helps!

What it is like to run my own business

Once you’ve started doing it it’s like you couldn’t imagine doing anything else ever again.

If you can do a good job working for someone else you can do an incredible job working for yourself. I wish I could convey how unbelievably fun it has been so far and how much I have learned. I think everyone should go for it.

My style

Jewellery doesn’t need to be defined by gender.

I like making things that suit everyone – I don’t want it to ever feel flimsy, so most things are pretty chunky. I enjoy using text and humour, but also attempting to make more classic designs really well!

My advice to jewellery designers

Don’t stop making stuff, if you love designing, do loads of it, put it out there, and with enough hours and ideas, it will turn into something.

Keep persisting!! Rat Betty for the first three years made a loss, I hardly sold anything, but I had a ton of designs. Eventually, a couple became really popular because I was always hounding Instagram with posts.

Advice to my younger self

Really tune in to what you spend your happiest hours doing. If the idea of spending your free time doing something creative sounds amazing, then pursue it.

Get a job in the meantime if you have to as it will provide you with the skills to eventually run your own business.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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