Behind The Scenes Interview With Katie at Pomegranate Jewellery
We recently caught up with Pomegranate owner, Katie to find out what makes her tick. Read on to find out where Katie finds her creative inspiration, how she started the business and she also reveals to us some of her favourite pieces of Pomegranate jewellery...
Hi! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about Pomegranate?
Hello! With pleasure – I’m Katie and I am the founder of Pomegranate Jewellery. I have worked in the jewellery trade for 20 years and previous to this, and my only ‘proper job,’ I worked in the buying department of Harvey Nichols and on their own label clothing line.
I opened my shop on Kensington Square in 2009, next door to my sister’s restaurant, Kensington Square Kitchen. We ended up working for 10 years next door to each other, which was fab!
Before the shop, I sold my jewellery on stalls at Portobello Road, Covent Garden Market and at endless fairs and events.
Finding a fixed address on this beautiful garden square was a complete gift and the business has gone from strength to strength from then. I love running an independent business and enjoy the face-to-face interaction with customers.
I am old school in the way I like to shop: I like seeing, touching and discovering things – thankfully our customers feel the same way. We have a loyal, local clientele and a wonderful array of international customers that we are happily beginning to see again – after the last few years of isolation.
The shop is hidden away from the High Street but we feel this makes us a proper ‘hidden gem’ and are delighted when people happen upon us.
Our jewellery is made in India to my designs and we work with a handful of workshops and factories in Jaipur, many of whom I have worked with for the 20 years I have been in the business. Our jewellery is known for being hand crafted and set with colourful gemstones. Many of our pieces are one of a kind and all are made in limited runs.
I was born in London, studied Modern Languages at UCL and then changed course and studied fashion. Being able to work in a creative profession is the greatest privilege and the leap of faith, which was setting up my own business, proves itself to be the best decision every day. I love what I do and my business is a source of great happiness and interest.
Katie, you’re a fully qualified gemmologist, can you explain what that actually means?
I had learnt plenty about gemstones ‘on the job’ in the early years of running a business but was always curious to know more and to formalise my knowledge. I found out that The GIA (The Gemological Instiute of America) run a distance-learning programme – enabling me to both work and study – and I signed up.
I would highly recommend it to any fellow magpies, it’s a brilliant course that spans fine diamond grading to the immense subject of coloured gemstones. I wasn’t ever a great fan of the science lab at school but nevertheless got to grips with things like microscopes, refractometers and spectroscopes.
Essentially, with these extra skills I can test gemstones and identify them with confidence and this not only gives me peace of mind but our customers also.
Ethics and sustainability are increasingly important to people, how does Pomegranate support an ethical supply chain?
Ethical trading is of paramount importance and to ensure this I work face to face with our supply chain and have done since I started trading. I visit all the factories and workshops in person so I can ensure that our jewellery is produced in an ethical way.
Most of our workshops are family run enterprises and year on year we see the same faces and work force. Our supply chain also uses metal that is responsibly mined. The gemstone supply chain is complex and it would be impossible to scrutinise each stone from mine to finished article, as much as I would like to. I work with trusted gemstone dealers and question as much as I can where the stones come from and that there are no conflict stones etc.
With regards sustainability, nothing goes to waste here and that is the great thing about the business I am in: for lines that haven’t worked I can break the pieces up, recycle the metal and reuse the gemstones. For example, we are currently breaking up a pile of beaded necklaces and plan to sell the mixed bags of stones via our friends at The Curious Gem - more news on that to follow.
We have also worked with TK Maxx for years and sell excess & end of line stock and samples to them ensuring nothing goes to waste and that all our jewellery finds a good home.
Importantly our products have an intrinsic value in their metal and gemstone content and – as have people have done over the centuries – can be easily broken up, recycled or remodelled.
As an independent business owner, what key challenges do you face? OR What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as the owner of an independent business?
As an independent business holder there is no easy ‘off’ period. Work is a 7 day a week ongoing conversation that you have to fit around your home life and the challenge is to understand this and set aside time for yourself also. When I first opened the shop, we were open 7 days a week and that was a great way to get a new business off the ground. After a while though this wore thin and I knew it was important to have dedicated down time and we now open for shorter hours, 5 days a week. Time out is vital.
I know also that my business would not exist if it weren’t for the people who work for me. I have been blessed with so many wonderful members of staff and they are as responsible for Pomegranate’s success as I am. You are only as good as the people who work with you.
Have you always been passionate about jewellery?
I think it goes without saying that this is the case! I have always been fascinated by coloured gemstones. When I first set my eyes on traditional Indian jewellery though my jewellery obsession went nuclear. The flamboyance and exuberance of the design, the intricate craft and workmanship – I was totally smitten and remain so.
Your jewellery is heavily inspired by India, when did you first visit India and what impact did it have on you?
I first visited India in 2003 and it is safe to say that this trip was a pivotal moment. My first trip to Rajasthan was in the Autumn – misty mornings, hazy afternoons and Diwali excitement.
Despite having travelled and lived abroad widely there was no comparison to the thrill of this trip. It is a magical place and I feel totally at home there. I love its noise, its humour and, most importantly, its food. This trip cemented my wish to work in jewellery and particularly jewellery crafted in India.
What’s your favourite region in India?
To be honest there is so much of India I haven’t seen yet and in a future with more flexibility to travel I will hopefully get to see more of the country. I will therefore have to let you know the answer in due course. In the meantime, my trips to India are confined to visiting Rajasthan and specifically Jaipur.
What is your favourite gemstone?
Impossible question… but if pushed I would say a cornflower blue sapphire, with a cushion cut. This was the first significant, coloured gemstone given to me.
What are some of your favourite jewellery pieces or styles?
I love all our fine gold pieces embellished with traditional enamel work and adore carved gemstones.
What’s your number 1 best selling single item of jewellery?
Our Aisha Earrings are a design that we have sold since we opened and It’s a style that our trade and retail customers come back to again and again. They are super pretty, wearable and totally illustrate our East meets West aesthetic.
What has been your proudest professional achievement to date?
Opening my shop was a fantastic moment and I am so proud that 13 years later we are still going strong.
What’s next for Pomegranate jewellery?
I am planning to renovate and refit the shop floor completely in the next year and after 13 years of wear and tear, I really look forward to a fresh, new look.
The dedicated website for our trade customers is nearing completion and we hope to get this up and running in the next month. This will allow wholesale customers to login and place orders directly finally.
Lastly, I have an extensive collection of antique & tribal pieces from India and from around the world and am excited to finally find time to catalogue and exhibit them properly. The aim is to have a third website, detailing these pieces.