Meet the owners

Meet: Harriet

Located in Green Street, Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery is a multi-award winning business and leaders in bespoke jewellery, specialising in bespoke engagement rings, bespoke wedding rings and bespoke eternity rings. The company was one of the first jewellers in the UK to be licensed to sell Fairtrade gold and was the first jeweller in the world to be both Fairtrade licensed and certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council.

What was your inspiration behind setting up Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery in Cambridge?

Cambridge is full of lots of interesting and diverse people from all cultures who have wonderful stories – and to me that really fit with what I was doing. I found I was working with customers who were really interesting people who wanted something that wasn’t ‘off the shelf’ and wanted something that told a story and was unique to them.

Style wise I found I was mixing the very contemporary and quite traditional hand making craft techniques. So, this combination of cutting-edge technology and very traditional form said Cambridge.

What COVID-19 precautions have you put in place as a business?

We have put a huge amount of procedures in place to keep our staff and customers safe. In order to talk to someone about something as personal as bespoke jewellery, you have to feel incredibly relaxed, and you can’t feel relaxed if you’re worrying about safety. Some of the measures we have put it place include only letting a safe amount of people into our shops at any one time, putting up screens everywhere, as well as masks and sanitisers readily available. We also bought these special machines where you can sanitise jewellery after it has been tried on – which work by using very intense UV lights.

What is your favourite thing about Cambridge?

I love the people. When you walk down the street there is nothing suburban about Cambridge. Everybody I see I think ‘You look interesting, I would like to talk to you’. If you go to any other city or town and I don’t think you get that feeling. Whereas in Cambridge I just the people are incredibly interesting and inspiring.

We have people who come to us with the most amazing inspirations for jewellery. For example, there was one couple that met at work and they used to leave each other messages inside the toilet roll in binary and that is what they wanted to bring as inspiration for their wedding rings. The next minute we were designing something for a microbiologist who wanted something inspired by some gene. The next thing we are making something for someone who really likes cats and wanted us to burn their cats’ fur into the metal!

You just never know who is going to walk through the door next. I just love the different types of wonderful and interesting people that have such inviting ideas.

What is your favourite independent business in Cambridge that isn’t your own?

I love the fact that there are so many independents in Cambridge. Personally, I really like the shoe shop in Green Shop called Modish Shoes – I get all my shoes there it is amazing. I also love all the little food shops and cafes, places like Aromi I think are wonderful. We’re completely obsessed with Jack’s Gelato which is just the very definition of a Cambridge Independent business! We like all kinds of indies but I think those three are my favourite.

Why is it important for people to support independent business now more than ever?

There are three reasons why I think it is important to support Independent businesses. Firstly, independent businesses are so important as it makes a city unique. Otherwise all places would be the same, retail wise.

Secondly, independent businesses are very agile and can adapt to change quite quickly. This agility means you always get the freshest stuff, the latest thing, and the most interesting product. Chains are a lot slower with this change. So, if you really want something different that no one else has got, particularly with fashion and design, then you’ll find that in the independents before you find it in the chains.

Thirdly, you tend to get exceptional customer service in independent stores. We have to work harder than big businesses to stay afloat. We can’t rely on huge marketing budgets to get the word out there. We just have to be really good, and if we’re not, we don’t survive. So generally, I find you get a lot better customer experience with independents as we’re able to really talk to the customers and find out exactly what they want. We’re passionate about what we do, and that comes through in the customer experience.

If you went to a desert island, what three things would you take?

I would probably take my cat as she is very entertaining, and she’d be great company. Hopefully she can catch a few mice and so would be able to feed herself. Next I would take a magic bath that had an endless supply of hot, bubbly water so I could constantly have hot baths and keep clean, because I would just hate the sordidness of the desert island experience. I’d need to wash the sand of me every day to feel okay!

My last one would be a sketch book, as I could entertain myself for weeks and weeks just draw things I found on the desert island. It would probably a good opportunity to sketch and design a few new jewellery ranges as well!

What is your favourite animal?

It has got to be cats. They say dogs have owners and cats have staff, and I think that is right as I run around after my cats all the time. But I like the fact that they are very independent and they don’t do tricks for you or anything they just decide to live with you or they don’t.

You can’t make a cat do anything, it chooses to come into a room if it likes you, otherwise it doesn’t.

What would be your superpower and why?

Is the ability to have super magnifying vision a superpower? If so, I’d have that. It would be really helpful at work and I think if you could see things really close up the world would be even more amazing than it is now. It would be interesting to look at nature close up and have a different outlook.

What advice would you give your younger self?

It is a really funny thing to think about what you were like when you were younger. I didn’t know anything about starting a business or being creative, and nobody does when they start a business. You just sort of make it up as you go along and hope that it works, and that is quite hard work.

That is why I wrote my book, ‘The Creative’s Guide to Starting a Business’ which is a book about what I would have told my younger self starting a business. It is full of interviews with some really successful creative business leaders who share their tips of starting businesses.


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