Lucille Whiting, Creative Director at Sophia Alexander Jewellery
Luxury gold and silver fingerprint jewellery proudly made in Britain
For the past 13 years I’ve been growing my family and my jewellery business simultaneously. I went self-employed after realising that, as a new mum, I couldn’t handle the early mornings and late nights that were involved with commuting to my job as an administrator at the University of Cambridge. To further complicate matters, I suffer from chronic ulcerative interstitial cystitis – a painful and incurable nerve-based condition which leaves me susceptible to all sorts of bugs and infections if I get run-down. I’m able to prevent nasty flare-ups with a combination of nerve blockers and an anti-bacterial.
For the sake of my own health I definitely needed a change of pace, so I initially registered as a childminder to secure a steady source of income; then I started to make baby hand and foot casts in bronze at home, as well as pieces of jewellery.
My reputation grew through word of mouth and steadily building an online presence to the point where customers were travelling from far and wide to purchase my creations. Over time the business pivoted into the jewellery side – especially when people started to ask me to work with gold – and that’s been the focal point ever since.
Using ethical Fairtrade and standard 9ct and 18ct gold, I specialise in personalised jewellery featuring my customers’ fingerprints, handprints and footprints. I’m frequently commissioned to make memorial jewellery, which is heart-rending for obvious reasons, but I always take on that particular responsibility with the utmost care and sensitivity.
With my health condition, as well as experiencing recurrent miscarriage (nine in 10 years), raising five children and giving extra attention to my youngest, who has anaphylaxis, I believe in maintaining a tunnel vision – carrying on with everything you need to do day in, day out because you WILL get there in the end.
The way I see it, you don’t have to be running a six-figure enterprise to be an entrepreneurial success. I’ve achieved everything I set out to do – raising a large, loving family and establishing a financially stable business in the face of chronic illness.
As long as my kids are proud of their mum and my customers are happy, nothing else matters.