How did Edge of Ember come to life?
I started Edge of Ember in 2014, right around the time I moved from my native Singapore to London to be with my husband.
Before the big transition I'd quit my job and taken some time out to travel. I'd always loved jewellery but on this trip I became fascinated with the incredible artisan workshops I discovered along the way.
I wanted to shine a light on these craftspeople, and it was hard to find good quality but affordable jewellery at the time. I'd taken a leap leaving my job so why not take another launching the brand?
Tell us more about the artisans who inspired you?
There’s so much ‘invisible’ craftsmanship in Asia that is overshadowed by the mega manufacturing landscape.
When a western consumer hears that something is ‘Made in Asia’ they immediately assume it's cheap, poor quality, and mass produced in unsavoury conditions.
Unfortunately that can be true, but it eclipses the abundance of talent, craftsmanship and tradition I witnessed out there. Those were the people I wanted to work with and be able to promote on a bigger stage.
Do those unsavoury conditions really exist?
Absolutely – I met one worker in Bali who said that the local jewellery industry is made up a few men - the bosses – who took the majority of the revenue whilst the workers toil away for hours in really appalling conditions – and for pennies.
How did you take your career and turn it into Edge of Ember?
I was witnessing these conditions alongside these artisans after becoming increasingly disillusioned with ‘big business’ in my career. The finance world is cutthroat and money driven, I was trading corporate bonds in New York and Hong Kong. While it was fun and fast-paced, I didn't feel like I was creating anything of value in the world. I wanted to do the opposite, and I was in the right mindset to act on that.
Not many other brands were considering social responsibility on a larger scale back then, but I was determined I could make it a reality!
So, did you dive straight in?
I travelled around Asia straight away in search of the perfect producers, and started designing my first collection. Then life happened, I moved to London, got married and had two children very quickly. I ran Edge of Ember on a small level for the first couple of years with two very young kids.
What was the breakout moment for Edge of Ember?
Probably 2018 when we launched our initials collection. As it took off we discovered this real desire for personalisation and unique pieces.
It was organic and we just rolled with it! We added birthstones, and a collection of charms, then launched our free engraving service. We were creating custom pieces at a fraction of the cost the market was charging.
I love seeing how customers put things together - some people choose their own initials, or wear the initials of their children or partner, there are lovely gifts created for friends with birthstones and engraved medallions. They inspire me!
And do you still work with those artisans you discovered on your travels?
Absolutely! We have expanded to work with a number of organisations. We partner with small-scale groups across Asia chosen for their commitment to fair pay, good working conditions, social responsibility and environmental care.
We never want to negatively impact communities or the wider world for the sake of style. It’s the heart of the brand, and the reason we started.
What's your most important advice for running a small business?
Make the foundations your priority. Make sure you have a good product, of good quality. Figure out your logistics and lay down internal processes before being tempted to tackle the sexy stuff like marketing, logos and social media.
Be adaptable – stay on top of market trends and be quick and flexible enough that you can remain relevant.
And be SUPER organised – I had to have a total personality overhaul in order to become as organised as I needed to be!
What’s your vision for the future?
That’s the fun part! I see Edge of Ember as a global brand, known for every day, accessible luxury for the modern woman. I hope to be in the vanguard of brands helping to establish ethical production as a viable option for luxury goods.
While we’re a digital brand at heart, I also want to expand beyond our online presence. Jewellery is such a tactile product and can be imbued with so much personal meaning that I would love to provide a physical space for our customers to experience Edge of Ember in person.
And if you had to choose – what are your favourite Edge of Ember pieces?
The Lumina necklace is a personal favourite, it looks like a radiating orb of energy – like a really chic talisman! And the Tube Hoops – perfect for me because they make a statement but are lightweight enough to wear everyday (and with everything).