When you are running a creative practice it can be quite exciting to run a few projects at once to keep you inspired, support your business and keep you on your toes.
This is often called a portfolio career and past INKer Scarlett Erskine loves all aspects of her creative practice, we have taken the time to catch up with her and quiz her about her business. Scarlett was one of our first INKers way back in 2012, the very first iteration of the programme. We talk about what she does now, how she has developed her practice and eating the frog!
Vanilla Ink: Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself - what’s your name, where do you come from, where are you based and what kind of work do you make?
I am Scarlett Erskine, I am from Broughty Ferry in Dundee and have a workshop in Wasps Studios in Dundee. My business name is Scarlett Erskine Jewellery and I make uniquely textured gemstone jewellery ranging from collections of silver jewellery to engagement rings and wedding rings.
VI: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey in to jewellery making? Did you always want to make jewellery, did you go somewhere to study, what did you start off making, how has your practice evolved and what are you known for now?
Scarlett: I wouldn’t say I set out to become a jeweller but when I look back to my childhood I used to love raiding my grannies jewellery box trying on her jewels and playing with beads, rocks and crystals, I used to love playing with amethysts and fools gold in museums.
Through subject clashes at school I was asked to take art and I ended up finding my passion for art and making and applied to DJCAD to do the general course, this is where I then chose to do jewellery and it all stemmed from there.
I would say I am known for my unique textures in the metal in my work, my unusual set gemstones and rings! At university I made a whole series of mad things from leg pieces to mouth pieces to oversized earrings and ear cuffs but I would also always make rings! I love rings and can’t get enough of them.
VI: What do you with your practice now?
Scarlett: I am now a full time self employed jeweller. My work is made up with a variety of jewellery jobs - I make collections of silver and gemstone jewellery that I sell in stockists throughout Scotland, I make bespoke pieces of jewellery for clients whether it be a customisation of my work or their own design using new materials or old family gold and gemstone jewellery remodelling into new pieces of jewellery - this includes wedding rings, engagement rings, necklaces and earrings etc.
I also run a selection of jewellery workshops from pop up silver ring workshops in bars and venues throughout Scotland to jewellery workshops from my own studio, from silver rings, beginners classes, intermediate classes, one to one workshops, Make Your Own Wedding Rings and more recently Make Your Own Engagement Ring.
I run up-cycling jewellery workshops with local charities - ADHD charity and Dundee Science Centre working with children in hard to reach areas. I also work a few days a month in Pretty Fly Workshop where I stock my work and make commissions for clients.
I roughly split my time;
Bespoke Work 40%
Pretty Fly Workshop 5%
VI: What led you to the INKubator Programme? (how did you find out about it, what drew you to it?)
Scarlett: When I was in my 4th year of university Vanilla ink was setting up for its 1st year in Dundee and to me it was a no brainer to apply for it. I didn’t plan or think of doing anything else!
VI: What were your goals coming in to the programme, did they change, did you achieve them, were you surprised by anything during the course?
Scarlett: At the beginning I guess my goal was just to learn about how to be a self employed jeweller and how I could make a business out of it. I fully learnt this! I had thought I would like to make fashion based jewellery keeping in with trends and selling my work at trade shows - VI gave me an insight into this when we went down to IJL trade show and I realised this wasn’t what I wanted to do and its more about the customer for me and making pieces to meet my clients needs and not fast fashion.
I was really surprised by the amount I didn’t know and how much there was to learn!
Quick Fire Round:
Silver or Gold? Gold
Shared Workshop or Flying Solo? Shared Workshop
Tea or Coffee? Coffee
Planner or Last Minute? PLANNER
PC or Mac? Mac
Inked or Clean (this means tattoos)? Clean :( scared I'm allergic!
Words to life your life by? Eat the Frog!
VI: I’m sorry what now?! Eat the Frog?!
Scarlett: So there’s a book called Eat that Frog and it’s all about doing your biggest challenge of the day first then everything else is easier. You also get the buzz of achieving something at the start of your day. So this book says imagine eating a live frog, can any of your jobs be worse than that (and usually they’re not) so you just do it! The book is called : Eat that frog by Brian Tracy. it’s a quick read book but I’ve lived my life by it since reading it! (Some days better than others).
VI: Is there anything that you learned on the INKubator Programme that you still use today? Any tips or advice you use in your practice regularly?
Scarlett: Work with people not against them, support people and help them where you can as this will always come back to work to your advantage. You can shout louder as a group instead of just one person. Working as a group in Vanilla ink definitely made our year of inkers more known, we were able to reach wider audiences and teach each other things to benefit us all.
VI: What’s been the thing you’re most proud of since finishing the programme?
Scarlett: Running a successful jewellery business, being full time self employed and being able to take on jewellers / interns to help me with my work load.
VI: Do you think things would be different now if you hadn’t done the programme?
Scarlett: YES I actually don’t know where I would be if I didn’t do the VI programme it taught me so much about branding, business building and the real life jewellery world. I am unsure if I would of set up my own business without doing this course.
VI: What’s the biggest thing you took away from the programme?
Scarlett: Work together and network with everyone and be supportive. The community of jewellers and the confidence to set up on my own.
VI: You recently finished the Elevator Programme, how did this differ from the INKubator Programme?
Scarlett: I would say the elevator programme looks at businesses in general - it is obviously less specific to jewellery makers. I enjoyed meeting people who were from different backgrounds as they had new perspectives on my business that I may not have seen as I am so close to it. There was similar cross overs with looking at your customer and your vision. This programme had a focus on telling your story and pitching, looking at how to get your message across. I am glad I did VI first then this course. I would recommend to do it this way as I found it good to go ‘back to school’ with elevator and give me time to look at my vision for the business, my finances and what I want to get out of my business.
VI: If you could tell your younger self anything before entering the programme what would it be?
Scarlett: Be confident and go for it! Take in everything and grab every single opportunity there is! Talk to everyone and connect.
Our INKubator Programme deadline is drawing closer, you only have until midnight the 29th of September to apply and give your business the best boost. Download the full brochure and criteria and let us know if you have any questions.