Your Stories: From the beginning
In this mini series, we’re heading back in time to the original stories published. The second story, featuring Sarah Ellen, was published in December 2016.
I first discovered Sarah Ellen's jewellery and card designs in Shop in the Square where I was drawn to the masses of sparkle, glitter and colour. Her products are so unique and I knew that I needed to give her the opportunity to shine on my blog! I picked up her card and had a look at her Etsy shops, and this is when I first discovered that Sarah had started her business after she had an accident at work, making this story unique in the fact that Sarah Ellen Designs began as a creative yet therapeutic outlet.
Sarah is lucky enough to have her own home studio large enough to store all of her stock, tools and also different work spaces where she can make her products and run her online shop. While spending time at the studio, Sarah talked me through the majority of her making technique, and I was amazed to learn that all designs are entirely handmade from scratch, for example the earrings begin as a piece of silver which she shapes and sizes herself with her own tools, as seen in the image below...
The silver jewellery that Sarah makes ranges from necklaces, bangles, earrings and one off pieces that come in a variety of colours and shapes. But Sarah also creates greeting cards that happen to be some of the most unique cards I've ever seen. They are also full of glitter and sequins, but if you're looking for a greeting card for a fella then you can get ones that are filled with sawdust! But the best thing? Shake them and watch the glitter or sawdust move! There's lots of fun to be had with Sarah's creations.
Sarah's always been a creative soul. Colouring and painting as a child led her on to studying Art at GCSE level and then a BTEC National Diploma, but after having a clash with her tutors on a Higher National Diploma course, Sarah left her studies to work in retail. While working as a trainee baker a life changing accident took place, which has since resulted in a diagnosis of a health condition called Fibromyalgia.
"I had an accident at work where a 12KG crate fell on my head. It’s a very long story. I had blackouts and then I started to get movement problems. I couldn’t walk, I was confined to a wheelchair for some time. I had to learn to walk again. I still struggle with it now".
Learning to live with a disability didn't stop Sarah from getting on with her life because she soon found her way back to her creative roots when her mum encouraged her to start attending some card making classes, and then she was also interested in joining a jewellery making course at the Adult Education in Wolverhampton.
"It all just started as a therapy. I was making cards and my friends and family asked me to make them some".
Things slowly progressed at a pace that suited Sarah perfectly, since she's also had to learn to manage her everyday life after the accident in August 2011. Amazingly, she was making her cards by Christmas that same year. Some days can be a challenge and this is where it's important for Sarah to manage her business in the way that suits her life.
"It is a very big challenge and I can’t do as much as I’d like to with my business because of my health. But I’ve accepted that I can’t do everything I want to as quickly as I want to.”
Sitting down with Sarah and listening to her story made me feel even more inspired than I had been in a long time. Sarah's been through a really difficult time in her life and has come out the other end with a positive outlook, when realistically speaking it could have been very easy to give up. I hope that by sharing her story on this blog you'll be able to make a move on your own dreams and start taking baby steps to making them into your reality. In the words of Sarah...
"I like to show people that having an accident or an illness doesn’t stop you, it shouldn’t stop you. It’ll change how you do things but you can still do things, you’ve just got to do it at your own pace. That’s the main thing.”
Photographer: Yasmin Qureshi