Words and photo by Tristan Ovington.
The lockdown caused many people to pivot in their careers. One example of this is Kane Barker, 24, who owns Blue Giraffe Jewellery.
“I began making silver and gold jewellery using recycled metals on January 26, 2021,” explains Kane. “It started as a hobby during lockdown and I really enjoyed it so I increased production and started taking my products to fairs. When I started the business I set up my Etsy sellers account and I had to choose a name. I had recently painted some blue giraffes so I just used that and it stuck.”
Reflecting on what he was planning to do before lockdown, Kane continues: “I was at university, studying a Masters in Public Health, but I completed the course just as lockdown began which meant no jobs existed in public health. I have always enjoyed painting and anything arty and when I saw videos of people using precious metal clay which involves a way to make silver jewellery more cheaply as it involves less expensive equipment, I was hooked.”
But it isn’t all about making gold and silver coins to fill his coffers. “The values of the business are very important to me so I try to keep it as eco-friendly as I can. I use paper-based packaging and all the furniture I use for fairs is upcycled. I have always felt that being eco-friendly is important in every aspect of my life, so I carried this through to the business.”
Kane’s family must be patient for him to hone his craft at home. “I still live with my Mum who has been really generous and patient as I have taken over half of the dining room table for my jewellery equipment. And I fire the metals on the hob in the kitchen, so she can’t cook when I’m making my jewellery.”
But the family sacrifice has paid off. “In 2022, I was featured on Kirsty’s Family Christmas which was themed around handmade festive gifts and I won against three others. I was so proud of myself, as I hadn’t been making jewellery for very long. To build on this success I have more fairs booked in.
“I am thrilled to have made so many new friends at the stalls of all the fairs I have attended. Everyone is so friendly and helpful.”