A Chat with Leonie Branston: The Creative Mind Behind the Amazing Jewellery Brand, Ferian

ferian homepage

I’m Mica Mennitte, responsible of Shopify Stores Setup and configurations of themes. With Marco we are privileged to work with remarkable entrepreneurs. A couple of years ago, Leonie reached out to us for some modifications to her Shopify store, and since then, we have been collaborating.

Founded in 2017, Ferian is a jewellery and fashion store inspired by the traditions of symbolic jewellery. Leonie creates contemporary pieces with a timeless heirloom quality, suitable for everyday wear.

Talking with our customers helps us understand more about their business journeys, creative processes, and how entrepreneurs thrive with their own Shopify stores.

Here is our interview wit Leonie, we hope you like it:

Mica: Hello Leonie! Can you share with us what the journey was like from the initial idea to launching your jewellery business online? What was that inspired you to work on jewellery creation and sales?

Leonie: Ferian was originally a bag brand but then I started making jewellery which became more successful than the bags. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I had a full-time job and worked on Ferian in the evenings and weekends. After working for designers interpreting their visions for over 20 years, I felt I wanted at least to attempt to create my own vision where I could fully express my aesthetic. I couldn’t find the jewellery and bags I wanted so that was really the starting point – designing for myself!

Mica: Do you recall why you decided to go with the Shopify e-commerce platform?

Leonie: A friend of mine had a handbag business that she started on Square Space but then migrated to Shopify – she found it much easier to use as a commerce site and I was grateful for the recommendation!

Mica: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when starting your online business on Shopify, and how did you overcome them?

Leonie:  I’m a designer so I am not very computer literate (I sketch by hand) so it’s been a learning curve for me – mainly supported by you and Marco!

Mica: Yes, having a Shopify store has the challenge of constantly learning and staying updated with new technology. However, like most of our clients, you have undoubtedly learned a lot over time and become increasingly self-sufficient. You are doing great!

Let’s talk about Ferian Collections and brand identity. What do you think is the main value that distinguishes your products and services from others? Do you have any tips for establishing a brand identity in a highly competitive market such as jewellery and fashion?

Leonie: My background is as a fashion designer, so the jewellery I design considerer as the final completion of an outfit- at its most powerful it has the ability transform– a pair of jeans and a t shirt feel completely different when worn casually with gold jewellery.

Mica: I completely agree and love your products for that!
We are always inspired by how our customers come up with ideas and products with such originality as yours. Can you walk us through your design process? Where do you draw inspiration for your various Ferian collections? Do you have a specific favourite part of the creative process?

Leonie:  Ferian draws on British heritage and craft. It is all made by hand in London and the casting /making process informs the design. I have always collected antiques and having beautiful things to look at is important to me. Not in a materialistic sense, I can get as much pleasure from something i picked up at a flea market or on an ebay as I do from fine jewellery. I often find a historic piece that I admire the craft but I feels is too old fashion or ornate to wear for the modern man or woman. I like to think I create the same feeling of quality and symbolism in my jewellery with an attitude for a contemporary collector.

Mica:  Check out Ferian Collections. You won’t regret it!

Mica: Nowadays, society is becoming more conscious about shopping for products that come from sustainable processes and sources. What can you tell us about Ferian’s perspective on this matter? What does your company do to make a positive impact on the environment?

Leonie:  All manufacturing takes resources but I try to reduce the pressure on the environment by using recycled metal and stones where possible. My packaging is all recyclable and I use biodegradable mailing bags. All my pieces are designed and made within 5 miles and I use a push bike to do all my errands to the workshop.

Mica: Regarding your audience, What channels of communication do you use to get to your audience? What communication strategies have been most effective in driving traffic and sales to your Shopify store?

Leonie:  This is really a work in progress – it’s very tough to compete with big brands and one has to have tremendous commitment to keep going! Social media has been a way to get visibility and the British press have been very supportive on Ferian which helps to endorse the product but doesn’t necessarily drive sales. Instagram is still good but I find the reach is quite low to new audiences. I do a monthly newsletter via mailchimp and try to keep that informative, interesting and not too pushy – I’m stocked in a department store in London so that also helps drive sales to my website.

Mica: As a business owner. What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of running an online business? Can you briefly describe a typical day in your life as both a businesswoman and a mother?

Leonie: It’s a bit all over the place! I still consult for fashion brands so it’s a mixture of design work for other clients and working on Ferian and family chores! I’m on my bike an awful lot going to appointments and collecting pieces that are ready to send out. I’ve really had to up my skill set, I take my own photographs for the website which takes a quite a lot of time, then retouch comments , thinking of new ideas to refresh the website – I suppose it’s quite a lot of marketing over actual design.

Mica: What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to start their e-commerce businesses?

Leonie: Research other sites before you launch your own, consider the functionality of the site and how that is specific to your product, look at design ideas, build in flexibility , try to work all that out before the build if you are really serious and have a strong concept and financial backing. If you are just starting a business and testing product there are great templates from Shopify. We have worked together for many years now so have had a quite a few different designs. It’s important to have people you trust working on your site and are invested in your brand. I’m always really grateful to have you and Marco to work with and feel we are part of a team – this last site we worked with a graphic designer and it did result in a more refined site. One thing I’ve learned is however committed you are and willing to learn, there are times when you just need an expert. Accept that and find the right team to support you. However, you can invest in training so you can master some aspects of the business. I find the way we have worked together has allowed me to understand the back end and most of the time I can upload, reduce file sizes, write copy so reduce paying freelancers. Allow extra time for getting frustrated and things taking longer than you expected. I also keep a file of ‘how to’ as sometimes I just forget how to do things after a couple of months. The videos are great than you make so I can go back to refresh my memory

Mica: Thank you for your lovely feedback!
Last but not least. What are your aspirations for the future of Ferian?

Leonie:  In the coming year I want to expand my wholesale to a more global reach – I also want to pursue more collaborations to strengthen Ferian – I’ve recently completed a collection for the Tate Gallery in London and that has reached a much more international audience. The aim was always for Ferian to be a creative outlet so I want to do more design and less admin!

Mica: Thank you so much Leonie! 

Click here to take a look to their amazing jewellery Shopify Store.  


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