I was first introduced to the gorgeous pieces from Forever Aesthetic Jewellery (F.A.) back in April, when Gathered Design Market held its first virtual market. The pieces offered by owner Jen Wheeler are elegant, minimalistic, and can easily be used to add some oomph to any and every outfit, regardless of the occasion. With a keen sense for understanding how jewellery is made, Jen decided to pick up the tools of the trade and teach herself silversmith skills.
In anticipation of their participation in the upcoming Hahndorf edition of the Gathered Design Market (11 – 13 December, 2020), I was fortunate enough to have a chat with Jen about her journey with F.A. – here’s her story:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Jen?
Jen: My name is Jen Wheeler and I juggle a variety of roles – I am married, have a beautiful dog, love to create via Forever Aesthetic Jewellery (F.A.) and also work full-time in real estate. I love getting out and about whenever I can and will almost never say no to a glass of vino! Fun fact: every week, my husband and I do date days, where we take turns as to who arranges what we do. It has been a great way to get out and about and also connect with other people. My goal is make my small business my primary job/income so that I can work from my studio at home and perhaps have a little one soon. Fingers crossed this dream becomes reality soon – I think that I am getting quite close to this goal, which is super exciting for me and the future of F.A.
Tema: How long has F.A. been in business for and how have you found the journey of being a small-scale business based in SA so far?
Jen: It has been just over a year since I launched the business into the world and I think I’ve come a very long way in a short amount of time. I have learnt so many new things, including a noticeable improvement in my silversmith skills broadening my range of jewellery that I offer via F.A.
Tema: Why did you decide to focus on minimalist and aesthetically pleasing styles of jewellery?
Jen: I’ve always preferred dainty delicate jewellery, so that is the style that I wanted to go with. After all, if I don’t like my pieces I don’t expect others to!
Tema: Since your inception, how has F.A. grown, in terms of the diversity and variety of designs in jewellery?
Jen: I produce much more interesting pieces and unique pieces in the present than I did when I first started out. I find being unique is key and I try to incorporate that into my range. For example, the gemstone rings I am now making require much more skill and work to produce them. It is a great feeling knowing that you’ve been able to produce something completely self-taught that some have learnt through education or employment.
Tema: What do you think helps F.A. stand out from the rest in the industry?
Jen: My aim is to have a range of beautiful products that are made with the utmost care. I work only with materials that provide quality at an affordable price. For example, all of my gold pieces are made from a material called 14k gold-filled. This type of gold (although difficult to work with) can easily be ruined when soldering. So, it’s important to be aware of the tips and tricks to make sure that the finished product is good to go. This type of gold also provides jewellery that will not tarnish, flake, or fade and can be worn in water. It really is solid gold quality at a much more affordable price. I don’t believe that there are many others using this product in SA and I think it is something that sets me apart. I think now that more and more people are seeing this, it has started to grab more appeal.
Tema: How did you navigate through the COVID times with running your business successfully?
Jen: I have to admit – I did go through a phase where I lost motivation when COVID first hit. My husband and I were so uncertain of what the impact would be on our living and lifestyle. But on the other side of that, I pushed myself to participate in the Gathered SA virtual market. The idea wasn’t necessarily to make money (although it helped), but to instead focus on getting my groove back and keep going with my passion to create. Thanks to the virtual market experience, I have now been able to reach a space where I am thriving!
Tema: Do you primarily offer standard designs or are you open to custom orders as well?
Jen: Oh yes I do custom orders all the time. I’m open to people’s ideas and am always willing to experiment with styles that might be out of my comfort zone. If it is something I can produce, I will most definitely do it!
Tema: Do you primarily operate online or have you got a few stockists around, where customers can access your products?
Jen: Currently, I stock my products at two shops: Three Birds in Stirling and Mirandas at Christie’s Beach. I will also be stocking a shop in Penola very soon. Apart from that, people primarily purchase from me via my website or by direct-messaging me on Instagram.
Tema: What are some products of yours that you think are customer favourites and why do you think that might be the case?
Jen: It can be quite difficult to pinpoint favourites that stand out from others. I can never predict what will sell the most as it varies all the time! Having said that, I think my latest addition of gemstone rings are becoming a hot favourite, as I have received many custom orders for them and they have also sold well at markets.
Tema: What was it like being back at the last physical market for Gathered SA since COVID?
Jen: It feels incredible and amazing! I have loved being back at physical markets like Gathered SA! It was a success for me and I also managed to have my husband come along also, which is a first!
Tema: What can your customers anticipate from your participation at the Hahndorf edition of the market?
Jen: There will be plenty of items to purchase (and just in time for Christmas)! I also plan on offering some pre-packaged gift sets as an exclusive range at this market only. These will help out with those who may have a tight budget.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like us to know about yourself and/or F.A.?
Jen: There are a lot of new and exciting things to look out for in the new year. I plan on starting to work with solid gold so that I can offer this option to those who prefer it. I’m also in the process of learning a new stone-setting technique, which means that I can hopefully introduce some new designs (possibly some small diamonds).
Forever Aesthetic Jewellery will be participating at the Hahndorf edition of the Gathered Design Market from October 11 – 13, 2020.