Note: apologies for the poor quality of some of the images.
I first wrote about talented goldsmith and designer Deirdre O’Donnell back in November 2011 when Deirdre was setting up a jewellery school and was navigating her way through the establishing-a-business- maze. The business seemed fair set for success as it was plugging a gap in the market and because of Deirdre’s stellar reputation as a craft jeweller and her passion for passing her knowledge on.
I caught up with Deirdre recently to see how The School of Jewellery her created-in-a-recession business is faring. We met at the school which is based in the large basement of her charming period home on Dublin’s North Circular Road. The good news is that The School of Jewellery is alive and very much thriving despite the glacial winds of economic austerity swirling throughout the land.
The School of Jewellery offers an extensive range of courses: traditional jewellery skills; silversmithing; bead making; how to cost, market and sell your craft … The butterfly and the rings you see in the images are the pieces that students make when they first enroll: Deirdre has picked these to start with as the making of them touches on many of the basics skills. The courses fill up very quickly and about fifty per cent of those who sign up for a set of classes come back again with many doing multiple sets. I knew the school was doing well not just because Deirdre told me so but because it was evident: there was a palpable energy about the place; I could see how organized everything is; I could hear Deirdre’s passion for her craft in her voice; and I could sense her great determination.
I wondered what Deirdre put the success of the school down to aside from hard work and a commitment to high standards, so I asked her. One of things she mentioned was how important she felt creating a warm and welcoming place for her students was and the School of Jewellery is such a place from the pretty front garden to the many homely touches inside. She also believes in giving back in some way to the students and one way in which she is doing this is investing time and energy in training some of them up as tutors.
While I was there I met Tracy Gilbert who is the School of Jewellery’s first Student of the Year. Tracy is lovely but I did feel inadequate as I chatted to her. Why? Well, she has a fairly full-on day job as an actuary – admittedly part-time, however she also lectures at Dublin City University, and she has two small children, yet she has somehow found the time to set up a new jewellery business called Celtic Twilight (http://www.celtictwilight.ie). Kudos to Tracy.
I wish Deirdre and The School of Jewellery well and Tracy every success with her fledging business.
Note: The School of Jewellery’s address is 87 North Circular Road and the web address is http://www.theschoolofjewellery.ie