Sustainable, Symbolic and Ethical Jewellery with Sam, from SMBL Studio
This week I had the absolute pleasure of hearing from Sam, the inspirational, super-cool woman behind SMBL Studio. Join us as we hear Sam's journey with SMBL Studio, her passions and visions, the highlights and the lessons learnt when starting your own jewellery business,
And remember, we are all about supporting indie businesses here at Cramblings! So, if you like the look of some of the SMBL Studio pieces featured in this post, just click on them to go straight to her online shop.
Welcome to Cramblings! Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Hey! I’m Sam the founder of SMBL Studio (pronounced Symbol Studio), the home of handcrafted, symbolic jewellery. Everything at SMBL is mindfully made from recycled metals for meaningful moments. I solely run my brand and handcraft everything from my South London studio.
How would you describe SMBL Studio in 3 words?
Symbolic, serene and sustainable.
I love the phrase ‘Symbolic Design Studio’, can you explain a little more about what SMBL Studio represents and what it means to you?
The mission, with SMBL Studio, is to preserve the planet through meaningful treasures. The vision is to be as sustainable and ethical as possible; no metal or wax goes to waste in the making process, everything we do at SMBL Studio is meaningful and mindful.
My logo echoes my whole brand: Symbolic. The hand symbolizes handmade, the wave line symbolizes a lifeline (your story) and all the symbols joined together stand for the natural elements: earth, sun, water, highlighting the importance to sustain our planet for future generations. The logo overall is inspired by ancient hieroglyphs that are hand-carved, just like our Jewellery.
Every piece of Jewellery arrives in a tiny little box with a handstitched care guide: they say the best things come in small packages and I want people to feel like they are opening a teeny tiny treasure that they will cherish forever.
I would love to know what inspired you to design and create jewellery; was it something you have
always been interested in or did it find you in another way?
I started being more creative ever since the age of 7, after watching my Great Grandfather carve sculptures. As cliché as it sounds, I had an epiphany moment whilst on a surfing trip in 2017; I had recently been made redundant from a Fashion Supplier who overproduced fast fashion and, as a natural problem solver, I knew I had to do something and felt empowered to make even a tiny change to the industry. We all have the power to make a change, just like Cleopatra or Martin Luther King; they were passionate people with the determination to make a change.
So, since 2017, I’ve been building my brand with a fluid approach, and it has been a very slow process at times. I was balancing full and part-time jobs with my studio time, in which I built my first collection. It was a very organic approach, I didn’t rush any part of the process and made every moment meaningful and every decision intentional.
When you first started out, what was your intention for the jewellery you created?
Originally, I aimed the jewellery at myself because I couldn’t find the style of jewellery I liked elsewhere. After a short while, I realised that lots of other people felt the same and I was overwhelmed by the amazing feedback from others.
Every piece of jewellery is handmade to order by me; I am obsessed with creating the best personal experience for my customers and I love sending them video updates of their jewellery being brought to life by my hands.
My vision was to make the world a more meaningful and mindful place through beautiful, symbolic treasures. We live in such a fast-paced society and I wanted to encourage others to live in the moment, slow down and appreciate the special moments in life. David Attenborough definitely influenced me on this one, he’s my idol!
SMBL Studio is clearly routed in sustainability and has an ethically conscious core, can you tell us more about what drove you to take it from an idea to a business?
We live in a world where many people don’t know where their things are made. The truth is that the majority of what we buy is made in factories all over the world where slave labour and unfair working conditions are rife.
My response was to build a sustainable brand whilst documenting the whole making process from start to finish with a personalized video that shows how each piece of Symbolic Jewellery comes to life.
In a digitally orientated culture, handmade crafts could so easily die out and I wanted to make sure they don’t. SMBL Studio is helping to create a solution to these problems within our society, in the most beautiful and authentic way.
How did it feel to start receiving orders?
Before launching a collection, you never truly know if people will believe in you, your vision or your brand. But when it does happen, it is the best feeling; I really can’t describe it!
Could you share with us some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt whilst starting SMBL Studio?
In the early days before my launch, I was really unhappy working a full-time office job in order to save money to fund my Jewellery. I nearly gave up so many times, but the support of my friends and family gave me the strength to continue.
I learned that not everything goes to plan but sometimes it’s actually for the better! Make mistakes but move on quickly so you can learn from them and continue to grow, at least that’s what I try to tell myself! Oh, and if you are an overthinker like me, don’t get caught up on every little detail, you simply don’t have the time.
It can be dauntingly expensive to start your own business, how have you found it so far?
I am naturally thrifty, thanks to my Dad, so I guess that helped lots and I save money wherever I can; whether that’s using discount codes or cycling across London for jewellery supplies. I built my website from scratch myself which took months, but my brother is an IT whizz so that really helped when I was stuck! It’s part of the process to invest money, but I guess it’s more about knowing when and where to save money in the right places. It takes a lot of sacrifices.
If anyone reading this is thinking about starting their own business as a maker, do you have any advice for them?
Set goals, celebrate your wins and remember that growth comes in spurts! Time is very undervalued so use it wisely and try to keep a work-life balance; sorry to my partner who regularly reminds me of this, but it’s a work in progress!
You have to think about your dream on a regular basis, listen to yourself, trust your gut, have confidence and take action. Lastly, hold onto those who support you and help you to grow because they are gold.
If you have a dream and are unsure of whether to go after it, you have one life so make it count! You either go for it or live the rest of your life regretting it, the choice is yours.
What has been your proudest moment with SMBL Studio?
Launching my first Jewellery collection in 2020. I felt like I was sharing my soul with the world in possibly the hardest year ever, some people would say that I’m nuts and I probably am!
Since last year, I had always planned to launch from June and nothing was going to stop me. Can you tell I’m a little stubborn?
There is never a right time to do things and sometimes you just have to go for it.
What have been the biggest highlights of creating SMBL Studio?
There have been so many highlights already in such a short space of time. One of them has been meeting and celebrating so many amazing people and feeling excited about the journey of growing my brand. Another highlight has been hearing and sharing people’s stories and making timeless jewellery that symbolizes meaningful moments.
Looking forwards, what do you want to see more of in the world?
‘Slow-made’ products that are sustainably made and mindful of our planet. We need less waste and more thoughtful, meaningful consumerism alongside more people supporting local businesses and communities. We need to be mindful of our planet, each other and make responsible lifestyle choices that reflect that.
It’s been inspirational just to hear how passionate and inspired you yourself are! Do you have a favourite mantra to end with?
It’s not about the resources you have, but your resourcefulness.
Thank you so much for joining us Sam!
If you would like to find out more about Sam and SMBL Studio, here are some useful links: