Linsey Houston from Girleewoo Jewellery
Meet Linsey Houston. Workaholic, Sydney Rocks Markets stallholder and someone who enjoys ice skating as a way to clear her mind.
Houston is on an entrepreneurial journey with her business, Girleewoo Jewellery. Based in the Hills district of Sydney, the business has specialist jewellery stockists, with a strong online presence and online store.
The aim of her business is to create quality jewellery using Australian standard precious alloys with all materials bought, made and sold in Australia with no outsourcing to other countries. This means she can control the processes with ethically sourced materials fashioned into pieces that meet Australian standards. She states on her online store that “We feel it is also important to the economy to support jobs in Australia”.
With a belief in ‘less is more’ simplicity, she also says, “Get it done, then do it better” is an apt philosophy for her business.
Houston originally trained as an animator using Maya and ZBrush and has always been a competent artist. She knew she wanted to model, sculpt and 3D print before she had the means to do this. So whilst working as a retail assistant at a fine jewellery store, she bought Rhino and when she saw her first print being turned into a ring, says it “was incredibly exciting.” She finds that the jewellery industry “is a world of discovery that leaves you wanting more education, tools and as much time on the bench as possible. It's not an easy road and I love that.”
Houston was unable to attend a trade school, so forged her own education through privately run courses in NSW and South Australia and keeping up to date online using YJG, Ganoskin and social media. Neil Pola of Pola Jewellers, Sydney offered mentoring, and Houston studied a variety of skills with respected jewellery professionals such as artist, Rex Merten Steele, object designer Majella Beck and contemporary jeweller, Wendy Hearn.
“Visiting these different studios led me to meet so many incredible jewellers from different disciplines and the structure in Australia is such that everyone is willing to share and learn, it's really worth getting out there.” She says.
Houston finds the Australian jewellery community encouraging and inspiring and yet acknowledges “there are many very cool people I still want to meet.”
Joining JAA has given her business credibility, allowing her to show she is willing to be accountable as a jeweller. Houston says that being a member “also adds credence to Girleewoo Jewellery being true to its product description, Australian made and supportive of the industry.”
JAA membership has assisted Girleewoo Jewellery as a useful selling tool. “I keep a framed JAA flyer by the mirror, at art shows and markets, so the customer service assurance is right there as customers try on pieces. Customers often comment that they are thankful to know there is a third party for their protection and I too am glad to have it for my own.” she says.
In addition, the JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards are a great opportunity to demonstrate designer skillset under the pressure of a project deadline. Houston has found the categories for so many different types of jewellery in the JAA Awards make it inclusive and mean fewer limitations for a designers’ imagination. She says “Your own work and others will inspire you to do better and keep on creating.”
For Girlewoo Jewellery to be successful, she has to deal with the more practical side of business as well. She has found it important to create a good set of spreadsheets, and make sure budgets are accurate. She has learned to cover all costs and wages and suggests factoring in “design time and overheads as they are as important as materials and labour. “
And finally, Houston offers this advice to new players: “try not to get too caught up in smoke and mirrors, work towards being incredible at what you do.”