It all started with a love of jewellery !
Lulu + Belle has been on such a journey since we started out over five years ago. I started making jewellery back in my undergrad college days, when I was studying for my journalism degree. Having never picked up a pair of jeweller's pliers, I did a simple introductory course at Yellow Brick Road in Dublin and from that day I was completely hooked. I would spend a good portion of my student food budget on beads, wire and string at the Yellow Brick Road and Crown Jewels in Dublin and spent many happy hours playing with wire and beads and making pieces for friends and family. It was before you tube or internet tutorials so I used books and trial and error, building up my jewellery making skills. A lovely potter with a studio and shop in Tipperary, took some of my work to sell in her shop and I re-invested everything earned into tools and materials. During those undergrad years, I also worked part-time in Rhinestones, the iconic vintage jewellery shop on Andrew Street and I got an incredible, informal education on jewellery design through the decades. From the minimal lines of 1920's and 1930's Art Deco jewellery, to the beautifully detailed vintage Navajo and Mexican silver, the shop has an exquisite collection of jewellery that was constantly changing and was an a really exciting place to work !
A meandering path to jewellery making
In the years in between I did so many different things, worked as a journalist, travelled all over Asia and Australia, did a masters of science in World Heritage Management, carried out environmental research for UNESCO in the remotest corner of Japan and worked for many years in environmental education. But the seed of jewellery making had been sown. When I settled back in North Co Dublin, I started to take local jewellery making classes in Skerries, learning to pierce, solder and do basic stone setting and set up a bench at home to continue making and experimenting.
In the beginning I had just a few tools, including a mini-anvil inherited from my Grandad's black-smith forge. I liked the idea of combining jewellery and words, so I invested in a second-hand set of stainless steel letter stamps. The anvil was the tool I used the most, learning to use traditional stainless steel stamps to personalise my hand-made jewellery. This was the very beginning of Lulu + Belle.
My lovely labrador and a big leap of faith
My hobby eventually became a small shop on etsy with a collection of jewellery, including personalised pieces. I had a busy job in environmental education during the day and I made orders from a make-shift bench in a spare bedroom or on the kitchen table in the evening. Bit by bit it became busier and busier and my weekends were spent doing jewellery photography and replying to customers, so I was working around the clock.
We have a very loveable labrador called Amy and when I was working on jewellery orders she was most often curled up at my feet keeping me company. My leap of faith came one very cold day when I was at my job in Dublin. Amy spent those days in her outside house and when it suddenly started to snow I felt helpless knowing that I had to finish the day at work and spend another hour on a train before I'd be able to get home to her. It was the push I needed. When I got home that day, I gave Amy a big cuddle and decided I was going to work on the jewellery business full time from home and she could be my full-time work buddy.
From there to now
Within a month I working full-time on Lulu + Belle. We fitted out the back bedroom as a jewellery workshop. I soon had to reach out an find another jeweller to work with me. I loved working on the business and every afternoon Amy was waiting at the front door for the beach walk that accompanied the post-office run to Skerries.
After two very cramped Christmases making hundreds of jewellery orders in our tiny home workshop, I knew it was time to find a dedicated space for the business. We moved into a studio space with huge windows and a view over the busy, quaint harbour village of Rush in Co Dublin. We now have a small team that makes and dispatches our personalised jewellery orders all around the world.
Our workshop is two minute walk to our home. While Amy is too old to climb the stairs to the workshop, she gets a daily lunch-time beach walk and unlimited cuddles.
And finally, if you were wondering, here's a little more about me:
What do you do at Lulu + Belle ?
While I design our jewellery collections, we have a small team who make the day to day orders and dispatch them. My days are usually spent reaching out to customers on social media, working on the Lulu + Belle website and lifestyle photography.
What's your favourite piece of Lulu + Belle jewellery ?
I really love our new oval constellation necklace. I think it's a really romantic piece of jewellery and I love the idea of a 'star map' that represents your zodiac sign. I'm a Capricorn which originates from the 'constellation of Capricornus' or the horned goat... I really like the connected shape of the Capricorn constellation and the oval shape of the pendant.
What's your favourite part of working at Lulu + Belle studio ?
I love that our studio is right in heart of the village and we really feel part of the local community here. As the studio is on the second floor with a huge window we have a birds-eye view of the sea-side village of Rush and there is always something going on.
How do you spend your time off ?
I basically love doing anything with my hands. I'm an interiors nerd and we recently bought a new home so most weekends you'll find me with a paintbrush or staple gun in hand, painting or upcycling something. I've also recently taken up hand weaving with a table top loom and I'm loving discovering new weaving techniques.
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If you are a future bride - congratulations on your big day ! At Lulu + Belle we know how important the small details are and we are here to help with your wedding day jewellery. The right jewellery can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your wedding outfit, while also serving as a cherished keepsake of your big day. For the bride, selecting the perfect jewellery is key to completing your bridal look. Your jewellery should complement your wedding gown and other accessories, while also reflecting your personal style.
Come behind the scenes with us as we give you a look inside the process of hand-making your orders, what's important to us at Lulu + Belle and the values behind what to we do and how we do it. Our hand-made ethos is important to us and we are constantly striving to do our best to balance what's best for our customers, our makers and our planet.
We are absolutely thrilled to have been nominated for the Irish Country Magazine's Irish Made Awards this year. This year their are 12 categories and Lulu + Belle is a finalist to win the jewellery category, along with one overall winner who will be announced at a special awards ceremony at the Morrisson Hotel in October. The overall winner will receive a prize worth €20,000 - and each category winner will be featured in Irish Country Magazine in the run up to Christmas this year.