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Yello Interviews: Aurelia Walcott, Founder of Jewellery Brand Emme Rose

by Karen Rollins Apr 26, 2021

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Aurelia Walcott

Aurelia Walcott is the creative force behind the jewellery line ‘Emme Rose’.

Aurelia is a trained fine artist, but she started making jewellery when she was a teenager, and her professional eye for colour, tone, and texture has helped separate her company from the competition.

An Emme Rose piece is unmistakable. The brand is synonymous with strikingly whimsical, intricate, and elegant earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, which are all delicately handmade with gemstones, pearls and crystals.

Yello asked Aurelia to share her business story.

Describe yourself in one sentence. 

I am an independent and creative person who enjoys the simple things in life.

Please tell us a bit about your background.

My childhood was fairly normal, growing up with my parents, grandparents and older sister. Living in Christ Church, we had a lot of fruit trees and flowers around the house, which is where my love for colour and nature began.

After completing secondary school, I enrolled at the Barbados Community College and later earning my Bachelors’ degree in Fine Art. During that course, I had the opportunity to study in Cuba, which led to me studying Fine Art at the San Alejandro Academy.

Who was your biggest influence growing up?

Oddly enough, I do not think I have one person who has been an influence, but rather a collection of influential people throughout various periods in my life.

For instance, Fielding Babb was very influential in my childhood. As a relative, we had his artwork in our home and seeing his paintings from a young age led to my interest in art. While, throughout my studies, my peers and tutors greatly shaped my outlook on life.

Were you always a creative person? 

Crafts have always been exciting for me. The primary school I attended had a needlework class which I truly loved. Thanks to those classes, my sister and I made clothes for our dolls.

By the time I was in secondary school, I was fascinated with textiles and would make different types of beaded and macrame jewellery. Needless to say, art class was my favourite.

Emme Rose jewellery

What were your initial career plans?

When I was much younger, I wanted to be an architect but switched gears to study fine art. After college, my goal was to pursue studies in conservation.

Why / when did you start making jewellery? 

I started dabbling in jewellery making in my teenage years; however, I didn’t start making any seriously until after college.

Initially, I used it as another expression of art. I’ve always loved working with my hands and building things, so it felt like a natural thing to do.

What was the first piece you made? 

The very first necklaces I made were woven flower chokers.

After taking a serious interest in jewellery making and buying tools, I created a number of earrings and pendants for myself.  

When did you start your jewellery line ‘Emme Rose’? 

Around 2011 I had started thinking of business names and came up with ‘Emme Rose’. For a long time, I wavered on whether to register it; however, it was my sister who gave me the final push some years later.

She saw a ‘Call to Designers’ ad for local products to be sold at Dingolay (a fashion shop previously based in Sheraton Mall) and encouraged me to take my jewellery.

I was already selling my jewellery at that time, but that was the point when I registered and developed branding.

Emme Rose jewellery

Where did the name Emme Rose come from? 

Emme Rose is a mix of my birthstone and a family name. ‘Emme’ based on the gemstone emerald, so pronounced Em. While ‘Rose’ is based on a maternal family tradition where the women in our family have floral names.

I believe jewellery pieces can be very personal items and wanted a name that held that sentiment.

What were the challenges you faced starting the business? How did you overcome them?

One of the first challenges was taking that first step, and wanting things to be perfect, or wanting to do things in a particular order. This is something I still struggle with sometimes when creating a new collection or deciding on changes to make with the style of the brand.

Nevertheless, the answer is usually the same; just start. Don’t wait or delay; taking one step moves you forward. Just start.

Once I got started, managing time and finances became the biggest matters. I tackle these through programmes that help determine my costs and streamline prices.

Where do you get inspiration from for your designs? 

With my beaded jewellery, colour and texture have always been strong artistic influences for me. So, when I sit down to make a piece, the first consideration is the colour combination, then I pull a few stones and mix and match until the shapes and textures look pleasing.

With my more recent hoops and pendant necklaces, I’ve tried to take a lighter, more whimsical approach. Simple colours but with nice shapes and facets.

The last major line, ‘The Mahogany Series’, features some shapes from nature like banana and monstera leaves. Other designs in this line are inspired by geometric shapes that I find interesting.

What materials do you enjoy working with?

I love the colours and shapes of gemstones. Receiving a new strand of gems with a beautiful colour, well-polished and nicely cut, is like Christmas!

As the business has evolved, I’ve moved away from base metals to stainless steel, which provides much better quality for customers.

I’ve also found the mahogany pieces very fun. I am in the process of exploring what I can create with this wood.

Emme Rose jewellery

Who are your customers? How do they find you? 

I’ve been fortunate to have met some genuinely lovely people over the years which mostly happens when I attend craft markets or fairs. Recently, I’ve been more active on social media, which has driven interest as well.

More often than not, my customers are women or men making purchases for the women in their lives, but as there are a few unisex items in my line, a few men have also made purchases for themselves. Over the years, I’ve had my jewellery in a few boutiques but would ultimately like my own showroom. 

What are your personal and professional plans over the next five years? 

Growth and consistency. While I have been making jewellery for a while, the growth of the business has slowed within the last few years due to various circumstances. So, professionally my aim is to build a team and create a structure where aspects of the business are not dependent on me.

On a personal level, I would love to re-immerse myself in fine arts. Printmaking and ceramics are two disciplines that I would like to get involved with again. 

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Believe in yourself, make a plan and take action. Evaluate the reason you want to start a business and do the research into that market.

The road to entrepreneurship looks very different for everyone, and the path to success can have a few bumps along the way, but the right attitude and work ethic can help you navigate the tough spots. Also, once you get started, network!

Emme Rose jewellery

Name three things you love the most about Barbados. 

The atmosphere. Sometimes while driving around, I become wonderstruck by the sky, trees and air and how nice they are. Those are very calming moments.

Our culture. In art school, we discuss the type of image we have of ourselves and sometimes compare ourselves to other island cultures. Everything from the way we speak, dance, make jokes, or the ease of our pace of life, makes our culture enjoyable to me.

The food! I feel blessed to live in a country where tropical fruits are a norm. I can’t imagine being somewhere where I can’t get mangoes, plantain, or sugar apples.

If you could go back 15 years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say? 

You can do it, do not hesitate. But I’d also say exercise and back up your files!

What is your philosophy / approach in life? 

Try things at least once (not everything, though). And be good to yourself.

It is easy to find the negatives, so I try to keep a positive outlook on life, practice gratitude, and focus on the good things.

While the website www.emmerose.com is under construction, you can follow Aurelia on Instagram to keep up-to-date on Emme Rose events and pop-ups.