Brooke Johnston runs her own jewellery label Brooke Johnston Design and co-runs the Finders Keepers Markets and is a testament to the success of the markets. Here is some insight into her world.
What lead you to jewellery?
Originally I was actually interested in interior design, after experimenting with that I felt that I needed something more hands on. I loved the idea of drawing something on paper and turning it into something 3D that you can wear.
Where do you find your inspiration for what you do?
I am constantly driven by anything nostaligic. I am very interested in traditional crafts like crochet and cross stitching. I enjoy applying a modern twist on these techniques. I re-create them in metal so they then become wearable.
What was the hardest part of starting your own label?
I think the most difficult aspect about beginning a label is after you have produced all the work, it is finding a place to sell your work and a niche for it. It can be very daunting starting out.
What advice would you give to other designers wanting to follow in your foot steps?
Its a labour of love, you have to be really motivated to make it work. Generally you don’t have success immediately, in my experience it’s a slow process, but don’t be discouraged it happens eventually.
What is your workspace like and what things do you always have close by?
My workshop is a shared space with three other very talented artists / jewellers. It’s airy and roomy, which I think is very important. Close by are my tools and a drawing pad just in case I have any brilliant ideas whilst in the middle of something! I usually surround myself with beautiful little objects like postcards, swatches, doilies you name it.. anything I have collected.
What other areas of design influence you and where would you like to explore?
I am really drawn to mid-century Scandinavian design. Whether it be furniture, fabrics or just objects, I love the boldness of it. It’s a bit different asethetically to what I usually do, which is mostly Victorian influenced, but I would love to explore it more in the future.
What materials do you like working with?
I use a lot of fabrics, it allows me to constantly re-invent the same range according to season and mood! I also do alot of mould making and casting with materals such as sterling silver and gypsum (plaster).
Why do you think starting at the markets is important for a designer?
I think starting with a design market is a great way to gain exposure to people that you would not normally show to, like potential stockists and buyers, and get feedback while you are there. It’s also important to see people’s reaction to your work. It lends an enormous opportunity for small labels and really helps you see what works and what doesn’t.
How has the Finders Keepers helped your label?
I have gained so much from the markets and also being profiled on our website (and our previous website). I have had some of my most credible stockists approach me both at the markets and after the event. In addition to that I have also had commissions and private sales come of it.
What is the most rewarding aspect about co-running the markets?
I love that we create a platform for designers to sell their wares in an inspiring environment, because I know how dull markets can be coming from a selling point of view. Another great part of it is hearing designers and artists success stories and knowing that we may have had something to do with that. Those little things keep me motivated both as a designer and organiser.