With co-founder Harriet Vine, Rosie Wolfenden has turned Tatty Devine from a market stall to an hugely successful UK-made jewellery company with products sold around the world and several collaborations with big brands. Rosie discusses her inspiring story.
Rosie is a speaker at the Fashion and Jewellery Exchange in Birmingham on 4 October featuring buyers from top high street brands and inspiring experts and entrepreneurs from the fashion and jewellery industry. Enterprise Nation members also have the chance to pitch products to Selfridges. Book a ticket here.
How did you come up with the idea for Tatty Devine and turn that idea in to a business?
Tatty Devine was created a couple of months after Harriet and I graduated from Chelsea School of Art. We both wanted to be artists but started making things together whilst we worked out how to become artists! We we making clothes and accessories but it was some leather cuffs that really made an impact and that we sold at Portabello and Spitalfields market.
What challenges did you face making the move from market stall to physical shop and how did you overcome them?
It was a physical challenge to get the shop looking less like a carpet shop and more like a boutique, It was a mental challenge committing to a five year lease (we were only 21!) but most of all it was a fun challenge. Initially we were mostly wholesaling to stockists and I do remember cash flow being challenging after we left the market stall. We were having to wait 30-60 days to be paid having spent all our money to make the order, whereas on the market stall we obviously were paid immediately.
What do you think have been the key reasons behind the growth of your business?
When we discovered Perspex in 2001 and started making laser cut jewellery we were doing something no one had really done before. Over the years we have created a language and aesthetic that has struck a chord with our customers. It was fresh, original and fun, all things we constantly look for in our work.
How do you stay innovative and what advice would you offer other entrepreneurs for doing the same?
It's important to innovate rather than imitate. Look for a gap in the market, however niche it may be and do something amazing.
Which other female entrepreneurs inspire you and why?
We launched a collection we have made in partnership with Battersea Dog and Cats home. This was originally established by a woman called Mary Tealby in 1860. This was extraordinary at that time as women generally didn't set up organisations and run them.
I also think that Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, founder and inventor behind Sugru, is very inspiring. I love her success story and how an anti-consumer attitude can result in commercial success.
You have worked with brands including Tate and Selfridges. What's your advice for how small business owners can form partnerships with big brands?
Make sure you are seen. Be at as many events as possible telling as many people as possible about what you do. It's also critical these days to have a strong social presence as brands such as Selfridges and TATE want to work with people that have an engaged following.
Rosie is a speaker at the Fashion and Jewellery Exchange in Birmingham on 4 October featuring buyers from top high street brands and inspiring experts and entrepreneurs from the fashion and jewellery industry. Enterprise Nation members also have the chance to pitch products to Selfridges. Find out more here and book a ticket below.