Meet Carrie Sharpiro, Founder of Carrie Elspeth, Ltd.
Carrie Shapiro, started Carrie Elspeth Ltd- in 1999 from a tiny studio in the rural market town of
Cowbridge, South Wales. Carrie Elspeth, Ltd is designer jewelry exclusively handmade in Wales.
From her humble beginnings, she has expanded into much larger quarters. Her new store is just
a stone’s throw away from the original location. Carrie Elspeth, Ltd. now supplies over 1400
outlets in the UK, Ireland and Europe. Her company specialises in beaded jewelry and she
extremely proud that all of her designs continue to be beautifully handmade locally, by a team
of specialised outworkers.
Carrie says, “I know that a lot of people ‘fall into’ their professions but I can honestly say I always knew I wanted to have my own business. I have been passionate about beads and creating jewelry since I was a little girl and I knew I’d follow these interests into a creative enterprise of some kind. I spent a lot of time researching areas of business I could explore and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to do better than many of the jewelry manufacturers around! I have been driven by a desire to create a well-designed product which is locally made, and provide an exceptional level of personalised customer service, no matter how big my company grew.”
HERE’S HER STORY:
What do you enjoy most about your profession? I started making jewelry on my own and have built the business up myself so at some time I have done every role within the company. I am very fortunate to be in a position now where I can focus chiefly on the creative aspects of the business: my favourite part is definitely designing the new collections.
What was your vision for choosing your life’s work? I know that a lot of people “fall into” their professions but I can honestly say I always knew I wanted to have my own business. I have been passionate about beads and creating jewelry since I was a little girl and I knew I’d follow these interests into a creative enterprise of some kind. I spent a lot of time researching areas of business I could explore and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to do better than many of the jewelry manufacturers around! I have been driven by a desire to create a well-designed product which is locally made, and provide an exceptional level of personalised customer service, no matter how big my company grew.
What was your first job? I had two “Saturday jobs” when I was at school: I worked in a fashion boutique which really satisfied my appetite for seeing what accessories were available and what the High Street fashion trends were. I also worked in a Tea Shop as a waitress which gave me a good feel for customer service and dealing with the public.
Tell us about the organizations your company supports? I avidly support local business-women and business networks, including the Federation of Small Businesses and the Giftware Association. I feel very strongly about supporting the industry I’m in, and like-minded women.
What life event or incident made you choose to support them? Having my own business, and often finding I was struggling to get help and advice when I first started out, has ensured that I am very conscientious about supporting others who are in that situation! I feel it is extremely important to support my local community, and I do this by sponsoring many local charities and schools as well as “specialised” charities. Some of my choices for helping charities have come from personal experiences, such as bereavement from cancer, but I try not to discriminate too much when it comes to helping those who are less fortunate.
From where do you draw inspiration? I draw inspiration from the environment around me. When I was younger I travelled a lot and was very inspired by the colours and different cultures I saw. Now it is the colours and shapes of the beads I source from all over the world that excite me and give me a constant source of new ideas. The handmade beads in particular bring with them the stories of the people who lovingly made them.
What one thing would you like to learn this year? I’m going to answer this in two parts! From a business perspective I’d love to know when the market hits bottom (well who wouldn’t!), but from a personal perspective I’d like to learn how to better juggle my work/life balance. I’m about to give birth to my second child and it has been challenging enough trying to reach a satisfying balance with just one child!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I’d like to see myself continuing to enjoy what I do and being inspired to design successful collections. I’d like the business to have grown, possibly offering new ranges of products, creating new challenges for me and opportunities for me to stretch my creative abilities.
What do you do for fun, relaxation? I relax with my family and friends: I love socialising and meeting up with friends for good meals out. I also adore being outdoors and going walking and cycling with my family, although this hasn’t been possible recently with my pregnancy and I miss it!
Do you have a secret indulgence? If so, what is it? I just love having a massage. I find myself having the odd “business meeting” off the premises, and always come back looking a little too relaxed!
What’s the Best book you ever read? I read every night to help me wind down after a hectic day, but I tend only to read a book once, and I prefer “light” novels which makes it hard to pick a favourite. I am, however, a big fan of Raymond Briggs as I have such fond memories of his “Father Christmas” from my childhood!
Your Favorite quote? I hear quotes all the time from figures in business and people around me which inspire me, or create a shared sense of understanding. It’s hard to put my finger on one which stands out more than others, as they have all affected me at the time of hearing. It’s cliché but of course many great speeches, like Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”, struck me profoundly and gave me the courage to pursue my ambitions and own humble dreams, against many odds and challenges.