Amma Gyan, a very talented Londoner with a burgeoning jewellery business has very generously agreed to an interview with Cendrillon. We met at a late summer party event in Canterbury's chic and adorable dress shop Armoire and here is the result. Her jewellery is exceptional, it being made of moulded leather and embellished here and there with the odd crystal or pearl - simply sumptuous!
Where did you learn to craft leather goods?
Making leather bags was something I mastered over time,. I would often go into local manufacturers with unfinished work, looking for tips and tricks. You'll be surprised how helpful total strangers can be. I did have trained skill I learnt how to cut patterns for women's wear at the London College of fashion, I then adapted this knowledge to bags. As for molding leather, this was a moment of spontaneity. I wanted to learn how to do this for some time, so one day I took myself off to the beautiful town of Tetbury to be trained by MacGregor and Michael.
What made you want to start a business?
That's a very good question, having been in this business for a while now, I often ask myself the same thing. It's one of the hardest things I think anyone can ever decide to do, however I really do believe it's also one of the most satisfying. I had an ambition to be a designer but I had never really been a fan of the mainstream fashion industry, so I decided to start a brand of my own that focused on style and craft, rather than just trend and pace.
How long have you been working with leather and when did you start making jewellery? Why did you choose leather?
I've been working with leather from the beginning, all that changed was the type and quantity that I now work with. Initially I used to use small pieces to add detail, then the detail grew into whole bags. The jewellery began only a couple of years ago. Sometimes as a designer you need to find new mediums to express yourself. I wanted to move away from the practicality of bags and just make things of beauty, I felt I could do this with jewellery.
What inspires you?
Nature mostly and people. I love characters whether I've encountered them or read about them. I like to imagine what they would do, or what they'd be wearing. I'm also heavily motived by emotion, feeling strong and confidence is very important to me. Having said this, sometimes my inspiration is totally spontaneous, well at least it feels that way.
How do you create the jewellery and mould the leather?
Now that would be telling; it's a technique made popular during the Victorian times, based on wet leather molding. The trick is in the molds, the tools and the leather you use. That's all I'm saying. (smile)
A lot of your creations contain ivy leaves. Is there a specific reason for this?
Yes, to me the Ivy leaf represented everything that I was trying to achieve at the time. The freedom in it's movement, the varieties seemed like changing moods and the resilience was something that I felt a kin to. It seemed like the natural object use to express my new found skill.
Do you have a vision for this brand? If so, what is it?
The vision is simple, the brand is named 'Me' the strap line is 'wear me, be you' that pretty much sums it up. Me is about expression, you don't need to be flamboyant to express yourself, but you need to be confident. That's what the brands about, doing things your way not the mainstream way.
Will you be having anymore upcoming events?
Events are the way forward for me, it's how I like to promote my designs. It gives me a chance to meet the people that are genuinely interested in my 'Me', it's also a great way to understand what people want and to meet interesting characters and feel inspired. I'm always looking for inspiration.
Do you have a shop?
I have a Pop Up boutique in an independent shop called Beautiful Interiors, Walthamstow, E17. You may not know it but you should, it's great. Penny Fielding who owns it is one of the most interesting people I've ever met, she also has an amazing ability to draw like minded people there. The shops recently been nominated for Best Independent Store in Britain, which is fantastic. My boutique is open every Saturday from 11.00-18.00. Most of my designs are available to purchase however some are made to order. Otherwise you can purchase items from Me on line at www.wear-me.co.uk
Is this a home-run business or a part-time hobby?
This is very much a home run, full time business, it' sort of my life now, when people say their business is their baby, I really understand because it needs constant attention to make it grow, there's always something to do and you never have enough time, cliché but true.
Which designs sell the most?
Without a doubt the Little Lady bag. Every colour I design it in sells well. I've been told it's all about the size and feel of the bag. I have to admit, it's what I use and have done for the past 3 years.
Do you have a favourite product?
I have a couple, the Lilly bag and my Lapelle© I love making the Lilly bag, seeing it come together makes me feel like I'm drawing with leather, it's just fun. The Lapelle© is a design thatI'm extremely proud of, I created it as a an alternative to a scarf. It's the most directional piece I've ever made. It's very simple but quite a statement. Customers still tell me about the positive comments they receive and how they love the uniqueness.
Thanks guys and see you all soon!