Meet Layla Amber
Layla Amber is a designer-maker based in Southwold on the Suffolk coast who makes hand-painted jewellery inspired by nature and the changing seasons. Here she talks to fellow Folksy designer Emily Turner from weewoollies about her creative process, the joys (and frustrations) of being your own boss, and her furry studio companion and inspiration seeker, Ted.
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Hi Layla, nice to meet you and get to know your work. Your designs are beautiful. Can you tell us what it is that you do in your own words?
Thank you! Nice to meet you too :) I create wearable pieces of art by laser etching my illustrations into sustainable birch plywood. Each piece is delicately hand painted in thoughtfully selected colours inspired by nature and the changing seasons. My aim is to create stand-out designs that make people smile.
I remember making necklaces for my friends at school when I was about 12, so the desire to make jewellery must have been there from a young age!Layla Amber
Where did you learn your craft and how long have you been making?
I’m self taught when it comes to jewellery making. I started making jewellery when I finished university in 2010 (wow, I can’t believe it’s been 14 years!). I studied graphic design, which ultimately wasn’t for me, but using some of the technical skills I had learned, I started to experiment with turning my illustrations into jewellery.
It was just for fun at first but I then started doing local craft fairs and it all went from there! It’s funny because I remember making necklaces out of Fimo for my friends at school when I was about 12, so the desire to make jewellery must have been there from a young age!
Where do you work and what does a typical day look like?
I work from my home studio in the lovely town of Southwold on the Suffolk coast. A typical day for me starts with a little walk with my dog Ted. Some mornings I go to the beach with him, if I’m up early enough, as I love it when it’s really quiet. I then go into my studio with a coffee, check my emails and crack on with making jewellery / packing up orders / whatever needs doing that day.
I’m generally pretty good at sticking to a 9-to-5 day, as I think having a routine is good for me, but I do absolutely love the flexibility of being self employed. For the past few years I have taken January at a slower pace after the craziness of the Christmas season. I recharge, work on new designs and make plans for the year ahead. It’s a time I cherish and I’m so grateful to be able to do it.
I am captivated by the little details found in nature. The intricate patterns on a wildflower or the earthy tones of autumn leaves, all of these elements guide my creative process.Layla Amber
Where do you take your inspiration from?
On my daily walks with Ted I find myself immersed in a world of inspiration thanks to the ever-changing seasons. I am captivated by the little details found in nature. The intricate patterns on a wildflower or the earthy tones of autumn leaves, all of these elements guide my creative process. I love to play with the contrast between organic shapes and graphic geometric patterns.
Some parts of my job drive me crazy. Which parts of your work do you enjoy the most… and the least?
Absolutely, being self employed means having to take on many different roles. My least favourite parts are mostly the things I consider grown-up stuff, like having to do invoices. Working with the laser cutter can be frustrating at times too, as can all technology.
But these few annoying things are outweighed by all of the fun stuff. My favourite parts of my job are designing the jewellery and carefully picking out the perfect colours for each piece. A few years ago I created a permanent photography set-up in my studio to make taking product shots easier, and it’s now one of the most fun elements of my job. And. of course. the freedom of being your own boss is truly a wonderful thing!
A few years ago I found myself so busy that I reached burnout. My work now involves a lot more of the ‘fun stuff’ and more headspace to enjoy the little things in life.Layla Amber
A few years ago I found myself so busy that I reached burnout. I was starting to not enjoy this wonderful job that I’m lucky enough to have, so I decided to make some changes to my business to make it more enjoyable again. My work now involves a lot more of the ‘fun stuff’ we were talking about in the previous question and just more headspace to enjoy the little things in life.
Where do you see your business in the future? What are your hopes and dreams?
I would say that my hopes and dreams are to continue creating jewellery that makes people smile, and to keep experimenting with new ideas to keep things interesting. That probably doesn’t sound very ambitious but I’m an easily pleased creature!
When you steal yourself away from making, what do you like to do?
More making! Last year I decided to learn to make my own clothes and I absolutely love it! I’ve made a few dresses, trousers, some dungarees and I’m now working on a coat. Some have turned out better than others but it’s so rewarding to wear something you’ve made completely from scratch.
Shop Layla Amber on Folksy
Use code FEB10 for 10% off throughout February 2024
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