Steph Lloyd is a fine art graduate and creator of slick, contemporary jewellery range Never Spent. Steph’s particular brand of jewellery design focuses on clean, simple and skin-friendly pieces that experiment with colour and geometric shapes. Having explored a variety of creative disciplines before launching her store, focusing briefly on Textile Design, and then Conceptual Art with a little zine-making along the way, Steph’s background is a varied one. She says,
“I love making things by hand, I love zines and printmaking, pretty much all things that are repetitive in process but that differ in their results. I want to create minimal pieces that can stand out on their own, without shouting.”
Since graduating in 2011 Steph found it difficult to focus her attention on a single discipline and was unable to complete a personal project until April of last year, when Never Spent took flight. Born out of frustration with her inability to wear costume jewellery, or in other words, anything that wasn’t sterling silver (something we understand all too well), and a desire to own completely unique accessories, Never Spent was the result of Steph’s personal style too. After tumultuous relationships with nickel and stainless steel, painful rashes and green tinges, she tells us about the origins of the brand and the materials she chooses to work with.
“Originally, I bought myself a length of Sterling Silver chain from a jewellery maker’s website and began experimenting with polymer clay. As a child my grandparents introduced me to the clay, we would make miniature figurines and bake them. I wanted to create something unique I could wear everyday without worrying about tarnishing or itching. After nice comments from friends, and the realisation that I still hadn’t stuck to anything creative since University, I decided to set up an Etsy shop. Every piece is cut by hand and therefore no two pieces are the same.”
A typical day is spent in Steph’s front room, often with one eye on a box set (or This Morning). She tells us that she only works on Never Spent when it feels right and loves all aspects of working on the brand, from making the jewellery and packaging to online marketing, early rises for craft shows and more. She says,
“I have a large desk set up but it’s mostly full of clutter so I work on a small folding table (where there’s no room for clutter). Each piece starts with a ball of clay; I use my hands to warm it up and then a craft knife to create the shape. Each bead is completely different to the next, I pay attention to size, so they fit neatly together at the end – but that’s it. I like working with organic shapes but also enjoy the repetitive process.”
Setting up and sticking to a creative business is a touch challenge but Steph takes a positive approach. Her tips consist of using short bursts of time to work on small tasks and using social media to your advantage. Believe in the power of 30 minutes or less.
“I’ve often thought ‘there’s no time’, when actually, I can take a bunch of photographs in half an hour and edit them while on the bus, then save them for later. A nice photograph and a good caption can go along way on Twitter and Instagram. Never underestimate the power of a hashtag.”
Steph attributes much of her resolve to set up and move forward with Never Spent to living in Liverpool; a place filled with wonderful independent businesses and creatives. Working as a freelance or independent creative can often be isolating or lonely and as such, there’s a great deal to be said for the power of community spirit. Seeking out other creatives in your area can make a huge difference to your perception of your work, your vision of success, and your creative outlook.
“Interacting with other creative people and shop owners is the most inspiring thing. I think a big reason for actually thinking I could do something like this is because I get to see other people doing it, and succeeding every day. In light of this, two of my experiences in particular stand out. Receiving my first Etsy order from a stranger (and being unable to trace them back to anyone I know!) and then, being selected to sell at Liverpool’s Summer and Winter Arts Market at St. Georges Hall.”
We’re always curious to know where the names for creative shops, projects or alter-egos come from. Steph tells us that she struggled to come up with the name ‘Never Spent. She says,
“I wanted something that meant nothing. I hated the thought of anything containing words like ‘Jewellery’ or ‘Stone’ and really wanted something neutral that could be interpreted in any way, I don’t know if I will always just make jewellery and I want a name that I can take with me as the brand develops. In the end, ‘Never Spent’ is just two random words, but I don’t mind the standard interpretation of being ‘never tired’ at all.”
This year Steph is working on dreaming up brand new designs and ideas, and is thinking about honing her autonomy and taking the Never Spent brand to the next level by taking a Silversmith course. Follow her progress and check out her lovely images on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth