In September 2016, after years of “will I, won’t I” and plenty of procrastinating, I finally did it. I made a decision that I was going to put all my efforts into setting up my own business selling jewellery which I had designed. With no background or previous experience in jewellery design I wasn’t entirely sure this was going to work. I do have a background in business, however, having studied business for 3 years in college and then a few years after that studying accountancy by night to qualify as a Certified Public Accountant, but the “not having any jewellery design” background made me question myself……could I actually do this? Also, anyone who knows me, knows that I am a very practical person; I don’t like change and I especially don’t like surprises (I think that’s the Virgo in me) and I am pretty set in my ways, so doing something like this was going completely out of my comfort zone. I had just turned 35 and having being working happily for the same company since I was 18, both part time while in college and then full time later on, change was definitely something I wasn’t entirely familiar with. But change is good, right? I’m sure I’ll find out eventually.
At this stage all I had was a small notebook of sketches and notes of what type of pieces I wanted to have made. So I had to find out if this was even possible and feasible – was there someone out there who could turn my simple sketches into beautiful pieces of jewellery? My first port of call – Google! I needed to find out where was the best place to source good quality silver and also if there was someone who had access to this precious metal and could make the pieces for me. I actually found reading other people’s blog posts and going into jewellery forums very helpful and informative. Ireland has no precious metals of its own; platinum, gold and silver cannot be found here so they need to be sourced abroad and imported so I knew I had to look further afield to have my designs made.
After lots of research online I contacted three different companies from various places around the world that had access to silver and were qualified to make pieces of jewellery. Unfortunately, the first company I contacted shot me down straight away. Because I was only starting out and my initial orders would be minimal they said it wouldn’t be worth their while or mine to do business together. The second company weren’t really in the business of making finished products – they could of course make up moulds of my designs and supply me with all the pieces I needed to make the finished pieces, such as chains, claps, etc, but it would be up to me to put all them all together. Obviously, with no experience in this area, this wasn’t an option for me. At this point I was starting to feel a little deflated, could this actually be done? Should I just give up now? A few days after I initially contacted them, the third company finally got back to me. Much to my surprise, they were happy to work together. They emailed me a breakdown of what exactly would be involved i.e. the work and the costs, and they also sent me a non-disclosure agreement stating that anything I sent to them would not be shared; this was, of course, definitely reassuring. This company was very professional to deal with and were ready to start as soon as I gave them the go ahead…..so off we went, together, on our new business venture. I decided at this point that I would initially start off with only two of my designs to see how they would turn out and then I would take it from there. Now, with a company sorted to make my designs, it was time to start thinking about a website to showcase and sell them.
Luckily for me Darren, my husband, is a software engineer / developer and is pretty handy at designing websites. The first thing he told me to do was to come up with a name for my new business as I needed to buy a domain name for my website. This was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be. I didn’t want a name that would restrict what I could sell i.e. having “silver” in the name meant that if, down the line, I decided I wanted to branch into yellow gold the name just wouldn’t make sense. You would think coming up with a name would be easy but almost everything I came up with was already taken and therefore couldn’t be used. I remember being down in my mum’s house with my sister, Nicola, and we were throwing names out by the dozen and I was checking domain registries to check their availability but they were all taken, it was actually quite frustrating! Fortunately for me, or unfortunately as I always felt growing up, I have an unusual first name, Chiara. Pronounced Kee-ah-ra, it is the Italian for Claire. Having no Italian heritage and it not being a very familiar name in Ireland I constantly have to repeat it to people when asked my name and I almost always have to correct people’s pronunciation of it when they see it written down. I think I pretty much went through all of my college years being called Ciara by the lecturers as I just couldn’t be bothered correcting them. But anyway, back to my point. I had a pretty unusual name so why not just use it, I mean most jewellers use their name or family name in their business so why shouldn’t I…so I did. And chiarahayes.com was born.