• Idle Hands Collective

Market Place: Skomer Studio

It was a pleasure of sitting down with Daisy Simpson, founder of Skomer Studio, to chat about creating a fully handmade label and how we can help the industry become more conscious. Skomer is all about quality over quantity and champions that personal touch, care goes into every order. We discussed what might make conscious fashion consumption more accessible and thinking outside of major cities like London.

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How did Skomer come to be?

I grew up in the northwest, up the coast from Morecombe in a tight knit, big family. My Grandma had 9 siblings so there’s a lot of us, it was very traditional. A lot of the women stayed at home while the men worked in boating industries, my Grandad had a dredging company. My Dad and Grandad would work away for 6 months at a time, working round Ireland and Scotland so everyone was expected to be practical, so making and being tactile was always there. In a boating family, everyone has a work table and a welding bench.

Growing up in the Northwest, things like jewellery and fashion weren’t really available. I went to Nottingham Trent to do Fashion Marketing and Branding, it was such a gateway. I then wanted to learn how to make jewellery so I went to Chelsea and Kensington college. I did evening and weekend classes for a couple of years, it was very busy but just fun. Then I began messing around, making things for friends, which led to me setting up Skomer a couple of years ago. I love the making but also the business side too- meeting people, selling and marketing my own thing.

Where did the name come from?

People think the name is Scandinavian or Danish but it’s actually the name of one of my Grandad’s boats. It’s actually in the Queen Elizabeth dock as he sold off a few of his boats before he passed so it followed me to London. It was the lifeblood of my family. My Grandad set up his own business and built his first boat in the back garden so using the name feels like my way continuing this heritage.

Tell us about Skomer’s collections

I make everything myself out of recycled silver or gold including the wire and fittings. As a consumer, you want something that has intrinsic value even if you stop liking it for aesthetic or sentimental reasons. Buyer confusion in jewellery is so common- I saw a pair of earring described as silver but they were actually 100% aluminium. Skomer is made with integrity and talks straight. It’s gold or silver that’s made to order and it is what it is- in a blunt northern way. It’s always about quality, if I’m going to make jewellery it’s going to be to the best or my means.

The current collection is called “all day. It’s everyday pieces that can be worn freely, gold and silver are pretty tough. They are pieces that last and anyone can wear, man or women. A lot of jewellery is unisex anyway, we do it with jewellery we inherit.

The second half of Skomer is called “ornate” which is a smaller collection that uses vintage and reused stones. This means I’m considering where they’ve come from and every piece will be unique. The two collections will complement each other well.

"A lot of people aren’t used to personal touches when they shop. I think when people buy from smaller designers, they become much more appreciative of the time and care that’s gone into it. "

What’s the consumer response to your approach of made to order and quality over quantity?

I must have done a good job on the branding because people are always surprised when they receive a handwritten note signed Daisy with ever order. A lot of people aren’t used to personal touches when they shop. I think when people buy from smaller designers, they become much more appreciative of the time and care that’s gone into it.

"If I’m making from scratch I can be inclusive to everyone."

I love hearing from my customers as it makes it less faceless which selling online often feels like. I am always happy to customise pieces as I can since it’s just me with raw materials, not a big machine. I had a lady with arthritis who couldn’t fit a ring over her knuckle so instead of a straight return I will work to make a solution. If I’m making from scratch I can be inclusive to everyone, I don’t have to work to standard big brand sizes- that means that everyone can be involved. It’s nice to have that relationship with the customer. I would never want to get too big to lose this caring side.

How do people react to longer delivery times?

I think it’s a good thing to wait as it makes you consider if you really want the piece- if you’re undecided after 2 weeks, how will you feel in a month’s time? With things like next day delivery, the act of waiting is lost. I think it’s nice to feel the buzz when you buy something then wait and feel it again a week later when it arrives. I typically get Skomer items made and delivered in a week as the nature of the process is longer and has more care than something you can have instantly.

What do you think the main barriers are to shopping sustainably?

When I go back home I realise that were so lucky living in London with the choice we have. When you’re in a small town or village, you don’t have access to all the sustainable stores or options. Even stores like Wolf & Badger, my family in the North West hadn’t every heard of it. Extending the conversation and brands pushing out into broader circles is so important so it’s not so “Londoncentric”. It’s a hard one because I don’t know how that would happen but enabling all consumers to know they have a choice is an important step.

The food industry has changed so much so I think fashion will follow but it will take time. More people go to independent rather than chain restaurants or drinking plant milk even if they’re not vegan. Patience and persistence is the only way it will change. The food side of things has been growing for over a decade but fashion still feels in its infancy.

It’s also generational. I have such a different view point to my grandparents- my grandma goes to M&S and Next on the high street. They’ve lived through getting by and had a “make do and mend” mentality and now they have lots of options and can buy things. Our generation has kind of done the opposite, we’ve grown up with access to everything but more of us are thinking about repairing and buying second hand.

We can be harsh on brands that try and do something. Fashion kind of can’t be sustainable because it’s things you want not need. We are quick to be like “yes that’s good but you’ve not done anything else”. There needs to be more openness and shaming people is never going to work. We as consumers need to have more knowledge about brands and what we can do. Also, maybe brands should be braver- if they start the process surely that’s better than sticking your head in the sand.

What can we do to be more conscious consumers?

Just be aware and do what you can. There are loads of different ways at different income levels.

- eBay is great as it’s a win all round. You get a little bit of extra money and someone gets something that’s new to them. It makes you consider caring about your items more, everyone has pride and you wouldn’t want to resell or donate something that’s not in good condition.

- If you buy from small designers, you know the story and the person behind them. It makes you treat the items differently to if you bought them from a big brand.

- If it’s a specific item you need, buy it from a specialist. So, buy boots from a boot makers for example, it will be the best quality you can find and provide you with longevity.

Find Skomer @skomer_studios on Instagram

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