Dragon’s Den: Wire Your Days

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In the age of Instagram, Depop and Etsy, online businesses, particularly student-led, have become all the rage. I recently spoke to Kitty Parker, a second-year Anthropology student from Cuth’s, about her funky wire jewellery business, fittingly named Wire Your Days. 

“I started it when I was sixteen,” Kitty tells me, saying that the project came about mostly to combat summer-induced boredom. “I decided to do something creative to keep me occupied.” Always interested in art, she found some wire at home from her mother’s jewellery-making days, and started from there. She liked the malleability of the wire, how easy it was to mould, and more importantly, how accessible and affordable it was.

“I’d see earrings or art that inspired me, and I’d want to have them myself, so I started making them.”

Kitty says her first two earring designs were artistically inspired. She remembers being really into Frida Kahlo at the time – who wasn’t? – and was particularly fascinated with her hand-shaped earrings. Not being able to find a pair of them anywhere, she made them by herself. “They were really bad,” she laughs, “but once I got used to doing the design, it got better.”

Her next design, her earliest commercial success, was inspired by art in the shape of moons which she saw at the Tate. The outline was simple, and a friend encouraged her to try to shape them as earrings. “At first, I was just getting inspired by a couple of artists, and after that I came up with the designs by myself.” 

While expanding Wire Your Days into a fully-fledged personal business, Kitty turned to Depop, where she had already been selling clothes for a few years. As her business grew, however, she created an account on Etsy, which she preferred because of how it was specifically catered to arts and crafts. “I found it much easier to use,” she says, “and it allows me to sell my jewellery internationally as well.” 

On the subject of the name of her business, Kitty shrugs casually. “I’m not sure how I came up with the name. I feel like it was just one of those moments where it just came to me and I was just like, yeah, I like the sound of that.” Her answer is characteristically relaxed yet urbane, effortless sophisticated but laidback, much like her earrings. 

Emphasising how coming to university has helped with her business outreach, Kitty’s chief advice to other start-ups is to take advantage of where you are. In her first year, she reached out to Cuth’s fashion show about showcasing her earrings, and later on, the Castle fashion show team approached her through Instagram: “I think it really helped to put ‘Durham’ in my bio.” Later in the year, she reached out to DUCFS and got involved with their Festival of Sustainability. “It was really nice to have your own stall, and to talk to other students who have businesses as well.” 

When asked about her thoughts on collaborating with other student businesses, Kitty says it is definitely something that’s been talked about. “A lot of us were speaking about taking over Market Square and having a collaboration,” she says. “It does depend on time and coordinating with people, but it would be so lovely to have a Durham-run event together.”

The new anonymity that came with bringing her business to uni was refreshing. Admitting that she felt quite shy about publicising Wire Your Days while she was at school, Kitty tells me how liberating it was to be able to start afresh at university, where the community is larger and not everyone knows who you are.  “The main thing for me was just having confidence that people like what I’m making. Durham is such a good place to reach out through emails, and fashion shows are so happy to get involved with student-run businesses.”

“The main thing for me was just having confidence that people like what I’m making.”

The beauty of projects like this one is that they are run very much on your own terms. Kitty says she enjoys running this business alongside uni: it provides a nice distraction, perhaps even a form of productive procrastination, while not being too time-consuming. “I like to do creative things on the side,” she says, “but sitting down and sketching can be quite hard. It’s not the same as doing something for something. It’s quite nice to work towards orders on Etsy.” 

With an online business, how you market yourself definitely plays a big role. The Wire Your Days Instagram account is relaxed but aesthetically pleasing, with muted tones and no discernible filters. Smooth close-ups of the earrings are interspersed with photos of personal artwork; the captions are mostly short and sweet, peppered with relevant emojis. In short, Wire Your Days is marketed with a sort of inimitable grace, perhaps a key reason for its international success. 

On Etsy and Instagram, people are constantly scrolling through photos and being overloaded with visual information: “if you’re looking at six images, you need something that stands out. It really helps if your page looks very similar throughout,” says Kitty. “It doesn’t matter what the description is, really, as long as you have a clear photo.”

The biggest achievement of Wire Your Days so far has been how unexpectedly the business took off. The summer before she started university, Kitty travelled to Kenya with her earnings from selling earrings without any financial reliance on anyone else. “Saving up for that trip was a big thing for me,” she says, “especially because I never expected Wire Your Days to kick off so well.”

“I feel like my greatest achievement has been being able to earn my own money and do something I love at the same time.” 

Wire Your Days will be setting up a jewellery stall in the DSU for International Women’s Day on the 7th of March. You can also follow the business on Instagram and Etsy.

Photo: Wire Your Days

One thought on “Dragon’s Den: Wire Your Days

  • Well done Kitty Parker. What beautiful pieces of jewellery you’ve created. How very satisfying tonot only enjoy creating your pieces but also being able to sell them and be commercially viable. It’s brilliant and very inspiring.

    Reply

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