Eliza Brockwell was looking for something beyond her nine-to-five job to give her a sense of fulfilment – a common desire for the millennial employee bursting at the seams with fresh ideas.
With an appetite for all things creative and the knowledge that sometimes the best creations can sit just outside of your comfort zone, Eliza tried her hand at jewellery making and it well and truly paid off; the fruits of her labour are truly exquisite.
Eliza speaks with Twenty Something Humans about balancing her side hustle ellou studio with full-time work, shares a little about the very special folk who inspire her, and offers some wonderful (and practical) advice for budding business owners.
Describe the Ellou 'vibe' in three words: Minimal, affordable, quality. But not in that order.
What inspired you to create your own jewellery business?
I never set out to create a business. I studied filmmaking at uni, and currently work in media where a lot of my job involves writing and videography. It’s very fulfilling and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but my 9-5 started to clash with my hobby which used to be making short films and videos for events.
I just didn’t have the energy to focus on shooting or editing on weekends when I need to unwind. I decided I’d try my hand at making jewellery and I love it. Friends then started to take notice of my earrings and asked to buy some for themselves. That’s how ellou started.
What's your favourite piece that you've designed?
I wear everything I make, but I’d have to say the new ‘Hoop earrings with single pearl’ are my current faves.
What are your tips for managing a passion project alongside a full time job?
Choose something that makes you feel energetic, and make sure it’s not the same thing you do at work all day. It needs to be teaching you a new skill or improving on established ones. I love making short films, but I wasn’t learning anything new from it because I didn’t have the energy to challenge myself. I’m sure I’ll circle back to it eventually, but for now I’m happy to be working with my hands and doing something completely new.
"Choose something that makes you feel energetic, and make sure it’s not the same thing you do at work all day."
What (or who) inspires you the most?
In terms of jewellery, I’m taking a lot of inspiration from nature at the moment. I'm trying to decipher shapes and patterns that could translate to wax-carved and cast jewellery. Casting my own designs is something I’m exploring for the first time now, you’ll see a few designs popping up in the near future!
In terms of people, my partner Ryan inspires me a lot. He makes art for a living, and he was so excited to help me get started in jewellery since he has a lot of the tools and knowhow about working artistically and with your hands.
My mum gets a special mention here too. She’s taught me probably every single creative skill I have. She’s an amazing cook which is where I got my love of cooking from, and she taught me how to make jewellery when I was little. She’s got a significant physical disability now after a stroke at 49, but is still cooking and drawing.
Where (or when) do you feel your most creative?
Probably in quieter moments, like when I’m at the beach or at home with time to think about what I could make. I feel like the most creative part of making jewellery is the conceptualisation, and actually creating the jewellery is a lot more about the technical process.
What makes up your ideal weekend?
I like to balance my weekends by spending one day getting out and doing things like seeing my friends or family, going out for dinner or seeing a movie. Then I like to spend the other day without plans so I can head to the beach, or lounge around the house with nowhere to be. But I’m usually too busy for that!
What's the most impactful piece of advice you've received?
“If you’re looking for the bad in things, you’ll always find it.” This is not to say that the world is a terrible place, but that confirmation bias can skew your perspective on the world if you already believe things are bad and are seeking out proof. It’s sort of a funny way of saying ‘look on the bright side’.
And what advice would you offer to someone who wanted to turn their hobby into a business?
Starting slow worked for me. I made ellou made to order to minimise waste and so I could listen to customer feedback before I diving into things. A lot of my styles use the same base materials too. If people aren’t buying a particular style, then I’m not at a loss because I don’t have excess stock lying around or I can use the materials for more popular styles. I understand that this won’t work for every type of business, but listening to feedback and refining your offering is something everyone can do.
What's the last podcast that you listened to and loved?
I recently started listening to The High Low on the recommendation of friends and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve followed Pandora Sykes on Instagram for a long time. I like their take on pop culture events because it’s done with humour and without any self-righteous lectures. Other than that I’m usually listening to true crime podcasts. Whatever can fill the void of Serial (season 1, obviously) which I’ve listened to about 4 times through over the years.
What's the last book that inspired you?
For some reason my brain can’t retain the plotlines of books I’ve read. The only thing that remains is the memory of whether or not I enjoyed it. I had to go pick this up from my bookshelf and remind myself why I loved it. The book is called ‘You’ll Grow Out Of It’ by Jessi Klein. It’s a really funny, really relatable memoir about Jessi Klein’s life. She was a writer on Saturday Night Live, Transparent and Inside Amy Schumer among other things, and her style of writing is so easily digestible and hilarious. That's my favourite kind of reading.
What song is always bound to put you in a good mood?
I’m not sure why but ‘Too Young’ by Phoenix is a song that just always makes me feel happy.
Follow Eliza's work @ellou.studio and check out her stuff at www.elloustudio.com.
Images: Sophie Brockwell.