Based in a quaint studio in Scotland, Gillian Crawford started this jewellery brand with her sister to honour their beloved Grandmother, Lily Blanche. We chat to Gillian to find out the story behind the charming family brand.
When did you first fall in love with jewellery?
“I’ve always been a jewellery girl, as has my sister. We both love great design and fabulous craftsmanship, but we both married men who have no idea about jewellery. We always joke that we started Lily Blanche together because it was the only way we were going to receive beautiful pieces for birthdays and Christmas!”
"I was the first girl to take woodwork and metalwork at school and all my weekends were spent making toys and crafts."
How has your childhood influenced your journey as a designer?
“I grew up in a small town in Scotland, surrounded by incredibly creative people. My mother made all our clothes and my father made wooden toys for us at Christmas. My grandmother, Lily Blanche Sheridan, lived on the Hebridean Island of Skye in a tiny whitewashed croft on the loch, and holidays were spent with her. She introduced me to a wide range of craft activities, from knitting and crocheting to embroidery and even tatting. I was the first girl to take woodwork and metalwork at school and all my weekends were spent making toys and crafts. My grandmother had lived in India in the last days of the Raj and remembered the rise of Ghandi. Her house was full of beautiful things, from big brass Buddha’s to old photographs and lovely trinkets that she let me and my sisters rummage through. She is the inspiration behind the brand and I often refer back to these childhood memories when designing new collections, many of which take inspiration from vintage pieces."
What drove you to start your own jewellery line?
“The business was started with my sister, who is also a designer and who had already established her own Edinburgh design company. We developed and grew the business together, staying true to our family roots. However, 18 months ago, I bought my sister out and moved the business to my beautiful arts and crafts studio in Stirling. My sister’s design business had grown rapidly and in a direction which meant she had less and less time for Lily Blanche so we came to a mutual decision which has allowed the business to flourish. She remains a great support and sounding board.”
"Do what you love. Don’t worry about trying to make money. Concentrate on quality, design and great customer service and you will be successful."
What are the core values of the Lily Blanche brand?
“Family values are very important to me, along with the sense of being true to yourself and your creative roots. I was given a very good piece of advice when I first started out and I pass it on to my daughters. It is this: ‘Do what you love. Don’t worry about trying to make money. Concentrate on quality, design and great customer service and you will be successful. Get to know your customers - they are lovely people.’ Our business has grown exponentially because of this philosophy.”
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
“There is rarely a single inspiration for a piece of our jewellery. But running through all of the Lily Blanche collections are the themes of sentiment and meaning, of celebrating life and expressing love. We love designing and creating pieces with hidden secrets. Jewellery connects us with the past in such an individual and intimate way. Inheriting jewellery, even if it is not particularly to your taste or if it has gone out of fashion, is such a humbling thing. There is a reason that we mark important life events with jewellery; we want the occasions and people who matter to us to be represented, not by something ephemeral, but by something precious and permanent. This is the essence of our philosophy.”
"Running through all of the Lily Blanche collections are the themes of sentiment and meaning, of celebrating life and expressing love."
What has been the highest point of your career as a designer?
“We were delighted to be nominated in the highly prestigious Scottish Fashion Awards a couple of years ago and rubbed shoulders with Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saunders. Being asked to pitch to Liberty London during their Open Call this year was such fun, we were delighted to get through. But every day running your own business is pretty good, actually. It’s very fulfilling - even when the days are long and we are burning the midnight oil.”
What does the future hold for Lily Blanche?
“We want to keep fulfilling our customers’ expectations, designing great collections and growing the brands. I have lots of little milestones and goals for the company and it is great when we achieve these. I don’t think we’ll ever “arrive” – I hope not. We are enjoying the journey too much!”
For one week only, get 50% off their Love Locket
“Our hero piece is the Lily Blanche Love Locket in Ruby. It is a really romantic piece and is very popular. It is part of a collection of three lockets using precious stones and it is inspired by Elizabethan portraits and an antique locket I saw in a museum. It uses six real rubies and a tiny diamond and it is a really lovely and affordable way of owning a piece with precious gemstones. It would make a great gift for Christmas.” Shop the 50% off locket here.
Lily Blanche is available to shop on Jewelstreet here.