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Kate Dawson - Moving Onwards and Upwards

Thu, 21/09/2023 - 15:03

Can you tell us about the initial spark that led you to start your creative business? What inspired you to become a jewellery maker? 

 - Having worked in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter for many years for other people, gaining experience, knowledge and contacts along the way, coming back to settle in Derby gave me the push to take the leap and start my own jewellery business here. 

How did you first learn about Banks Mill Studios, and what motivated you to join their creative incubation centre? 

 - Searching for local studios, Banks Mill seemed like the perfect choice: a place to start out with business support and a building with lots of character to bring my customers into, along with the creative space to make my own. 

What were some of the most significant challenges you faced when you started your business, and how did you overcome them? 

 - Covid happening was the biggest challenge less than 2 years into setting up my business but adapting to different ways of working and being determined to ride it out luckily paid off in the end. 

Being a creative entrepreneur requires a unique set of skills. What did you do to support your professional development and business growth in those aspects? 

 - Keeping in contact with suppliers and my network of colleagues in Birmingham and London helps me keep abreast of any developments and trends. 

Collaboration and networking often play a crucial role in creative industries. Can you share any instances where collaborating with other artists or makers at Banks Mill and the University enhanced your work or opened up new opportunities? 

 - Taking part in the annual Banks Mill Open Studios has always been great to be involved in. Opening our spaces up to the public, meeting new potential customers and networking with other creatives: it’s always a really nice atmosphere with positive feedback too. 

From design concepts to the finished product, can you walk us through your typical creative process? How has this process evolved? 

 - Each piece is made to order so the initial consultation with a customer is the basis for discussing ideas and looking at samples and materials. Sometimes drawings and models are used along the way to help customers visualise their designs and then the pieces are made up. Narrowing down and finding new suppliers along the way has helped me source the best stones and materials and make great connections to ensure the best quality. 

Balancing artistic vision with commercial viability can be challenging. How did you manage to maintain your creative integrity while also building a successful business? 

- There are certain pieces of jewellery that I’m very passionate about, especially coloured stones. These have become a specialism of mine over the past couple of years. If I’m offered coloured stones that really catch my eye, I will often make finished pieces for stock. I have a number of wonderful and loyal customers who know and love what I do, so stock items don’t tend to hang around for long. I am always honest with my customers, if I feel one of their ideas is not viable, I’ll talk it through with them and offer a more workable solution.  

Were there any workshops, resources, or mentors at Banks Mill Studios or the University that particularly influenced your creative techniques or business strategies? 

 - In the beginning, a recommendation from a business coach at Banks Mill to attend a Starting in Business course proved extremely helpful along with a meeting with their Business Advisor at the time, who was able to give valuable advice I’ve used along the way. 

Graduating from Banks Mill Studios is a significant achievement. Looking back, what advice would you give to aspiring artists and makers who are considering joining Banks Mill? 

 - Go for it! It’s a great space to begin and grow. There’s plenty of opportunities and support you just wouldn’t get if you started on your own elsewhere. 

Lastly, let us know what’s next for your business as you move to pastures new!  

 - My new premises will give me the chance to grow the business with more space to meet customers and develop new ideas, exciting times ahead! .


We wish Kate all the success in the future and look forward to following her journey as she continues to develop and thrive in her business and craft. You can find and purchase Kates work via her website at www.katedawsonjewellery.co.uk 

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