Manufacturing

Young Bridport jewellery designer sparkles with Dorset Community Foundation SWEF grant

By Sam Pither [email protected]

Published: May 1, 2024 | Updated: 1st May 2024

Beatrix Tilley, a 19-year-old jewellery designer from Bridport, has been able to add a sparkle to her new business thanks to an SWEF enterprise grant from Dorset Community Foundation.

The young artisan was awarded £1,850 to help with equipment and a website to promote her Beatrix Ella brand from the fund, which helps young people aged between 18 and 30 who are either running or about to start their business with costs such as tools, stock and rent.

Beatrix decided to turn her interest in making jewellery into a business after finding sea glass on the beach while walking to her dad’s house in Lyme Regis.

At job on a jewellery maker’s market stall in Bridport gave her the opportunity to sell some of her designs using the glass beads she sold. She said: “She was kind enough let me have a little section with my jewellery  and people liked my designs, so then I decided to have my own little table with my bead designs and my sea grass design.

“I started making money from it which I used to reinvest and I kind of just built up and up and up from there.”

She was able to branch out and buy silver wire to make more necklaces and rings but she needed a larger investment to make her business viable

She said: “My mum came across the SWEF grant but I didn’t originally want to apply because I don’t really like video calls and I knew a video interview was part of the process.

“What helped me was that the initial application was online and it was quite straightforward. When they replied I kind of didn’t have any choice about the video call but it was fine.

“It was quite a relief to get the grant because it meant that I could follow through all these ideas I had that I wanted to achieve, that I couldn’t before because it’s such a long process, making a little bit of money and then reinvesting it.”

The grant meant she was able to launch her website and create a more professional studio to work in at home.

“Originally I was polishing everything by hand so I could only really make five pieces a day and then I wouldn’t have much to sell at the market,” she said.

“One of the tools I bought was a tumbler that polishes everything so now I’m able to make a good amount of things and make more money to build up my business.

“There were designs I had in mind that were a bit more complicated and I was a bit scared to invest the money in them because I was using it for designs that were selling. So I put a bit of money aside for material and new designs.”

She now produces around 70 pieces of jewellery each week to sell via the website or at markets in Bridport and around the area.

“It’s a full time job now,” she said.

“I hope to move out of home soon and into my own place with a studio. I’m so glad that I applied for the grant because if I hadn’t got that I would be like a year behind where I am now.”

Find out more about SWEF grants, eligibility and how to apply at dorsetcommunityfoundation.org and see Beatrix’s designs at beatrixella.com or search for Beatrix Ella on Instagram.

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