THE ARTISAN FOUNDER

004. Only Through Shadows

THE ARTISAN FOUNDER
An inspiring story of starting over and finding true direction.

Artemis Russell is the Founder of Only Through Shadows.

Like many Founders who found themselves pivoting or reinventing during the pandemic, a major life event set Artemis on a new course.

Here’s her story.

Only Through Shadows was sort of born out of necessity.

I was going through divorce and the thought of leaving the jewellery business I’d worked at with ex husband meant I’d have no income, home or security for the children, I had to think on my feet about how I could best make a new life for us.

Covid was also just happening, so during lockdown in April 2020 I used my last bit of savings and went up to my tiny loft room whilst the house was being sold, and got going with my new little business…a solo venture! I made sample designs in the greenhouse, and all the set up work I’d do on my laptop on a floor cushion in the loft.

Thinking back, I really don’t know how I had the guts to do it all, I guess it was adrenaline!

As soon as I’d registered my hallmark with the Assay Office, made my website and ordered the packaging…it all felt so peaceful and as if my little business was a tranquil retreat from the stresses unfolding around me.

Something very positive and joyful, exactly what I needed.

I’ve always had a fascination and a passion for making small and intricate things, that combined with my love of photography. This really helps as I can do lots for the business without outsourcing.

I loved collecting all the tools I needed, taking joy in the simple things of being a jewellery maker, as opposed to my last position, which was mainly just designing and dealing with sales.

Involving the children with the design processes also added to its evolution and gave them some positive vibes too.

Only Through Shadows is now like another child to me, it has seen me through dark times, and it has provided me with independence and security and most importantly, a lovely home for us!

Something very positive and joyful, exactly what I needed.

The team.

I work just by myself with my dog Otter snoozing beside me.

As I am based on the Isle of Wight, I rely completely on my suppliers remotely…they are the ones that have enabled me to start my business really, I appreciate that metal and gem suppliers and hallmarking help individual makers all around the country, not just big companies, with fast postage, even of small quantities. I count them as my colleagues, they are my team really.

Island life.

I’m lucky enough that I work from home, my studio has a beautiful view of the downs, just above Freshwater Bay here on the Isle of Wight.

I was born here, and I moved back around 10 years ago after living in South East London. It is a real contrast!

My dog helps me to get out and about everyday as it can get a bit isolating when the children are not with me.

It is a short walk to the sea, and during the summer, I usually go for a swim most days, but I’m not really a cold water fan so I stick to the warmer months. I really do feel like I’m on holiday every day here.

In the winter, it is all about the mud, as I live next to farm land on a dirt track lane. Mud everywhere.

My dog likes to listen to jazz music, so that’s what we usually have on whilst I work. Jewellery making can be quite noisy, but she finds it quite calming I think.

My inspiration.

I love reading about the history of jewellery and symbolism in designs also of pottery and fabrics around the world.

Similar images often come up in different cultures, plants, starts, animals…I think these have a deep routed meaning to all us humans and this connects us.

Minerals have always fascinated me since I was a child, although I don’t really believe in their healing properties, I love learning about how people have held these beliefs and the mystical stories they hold throughout history is so intriguing!

These form the bases of my jewellery ideas, and there is a never ending source of inspiration from my natural surroundings.

I make lots of my jewellery from wax to begin with, I love this as I can incorporate different textures and details. I use most precious metals and gemstones in my work, I try to find stones with rare and unusual colours and inclusions which I think can be just as beautiful, as you can really see how the gem was formed from the earth, and it adds another dimension to the jewellery.

I'll always be especially grateful to those first customers.

A new start.

The most exciting moment for me was launching Only Through Shadows for the first time back in 2020. I received orders straight away! I really thought that I wouldn’t sell anything, but I told myself – at least I tried!

I’ll always be especially grateful to those first customers.

I had a lovely dinner at a restaurant with family, and I felt like I was a jeweller again!

It is hard running your own small business because sales are unpredictable, it can be scary but you get used to the highs and lows, and try to look at the bigger picture. I’m still working on that!

Responsibly sourced.

Everyone has a duty to be concerned about how and where products are made.

Jewellery has and always will be the most highly recycled items human have ever owned!

I only buy gemstones from suppliers that are responsible where they are sourced from, the good news is that there are now organisations which better enable this to be strictly adhered to.

This sometimes means that I can’t make things exactly as I’d wanted, I have to adapt or design around gems which I know are ethically sourced, both from a human and environmental aspect.

That is my aim, alongside the mundanity of paying the bills, also showing my children the value of hardworking and using your own initiative (hopefully!).

My perfect balance.

I’m more than happy to keep my business small whilst my children are small, I want to have time to spend with them too.

My aim for the future is to knuckle down and invest more once they have flown the nest, perhaps even travel and take my jewellery tools with me!

The joy of jewellery making is that it is all tiny, I can fit my whole business in one suitcase. Thanks to the internet, I can sell from anywhere in the world pretty much, it is so portable.

As far as my actual jewellery work, I’m excited to make more high value items simply because I love working with diamonds and sapphires, it is so satisfying and I know that these items will be so important to their owners and will live on a long time after I’m gone!

IMAGES ©Only Through Shadows 2024
THE ARTISAN FOUNDER

Artemis reminds us that sometimes, it’s only through shadows that we discover our brightest light—creating beauty not just in the pieces she crafts but in the new beginnings they represent.

As Artemis continues to blend the rich tapestry of history, nature, and precious materials into her jewellery, Only Through Shadows stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of creativity and the promise of a brighter future.

Keep following us for more stories of remarkable artisans like Artemis, who not only navigate the waves of change but ride them to new horizons.

-Lyndsey

 

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