Hey lovelies, I’m Sam the founder of @smbl.studio (pronounced Symbol Studio). The home of Handcrafted Symbolic Jewellery – All Mindfully made from recycled metals for meaningful moments. I solely run my brand & handcraft everything from my South London studio.
How did you first start SMBL Studio? Can you remember where you had the idea, was it a slow process dream or an epiphany?
I started being more creative with my hands ever since the age of 7, after watching my Great Grandfather carve sculptures. As cliché as it sounds, I had an epiphany moment whilst on a surfing trip in 2017. I had recently been made redundant from a Fashion Supplier who overproduced fast fashion (which saddens me to hear it still happens today).
As a natural problem solver, I knew I had to do something and felt empowered to make even a tiny change to the industry. Since 2017 I built my brand with a fluid approach and at times a very slow process. I was balancing full/part-time jobs and my studio time where I built my first collection with a very organic approach. I didn’t rush any part of the process, making every moment meaningful and every decision intentional. We all have the power to make a change, just like Cleopatra or Martin Luther King; they were passionate people with the determination to make a change.
When did it become an idea which you believed could turn into something more?
We live in a world where many people don’t know where things are made. The truth is that majority are made in factories all over the world where slave labor and unfair working conditions are rife.
My response was to build a sustainable brand while documenting the whole making process from start to finish with a personalized video showing how each piece of Symbolic Jewellery comes to life.
In a digitally orientated culture, the use of handcrafts could so easily die out and I wanted to make sure it doesn’t!
We live in such a fast-paced society where everything is so instant, I felt there was a real need to reconnect with a slower life in order to appreciate the meaningful moments. SMBL Studio is helping to create a solution to this problem within our society, in the most beautiful and authentic way.
How long did it take from the initial vision to launching your brand?
YEARS! It was a constant rollercoaster of baby steps with lots of ups and downs, tea, coffee, and G&T’s! I can say it was definitely worth all the struggles in the long run. Absolutely no regrets!
What was your vision? What did you want to gift to the world?
My vision was to make the world a more meaningful and mindful place through beautiful symbolic treasures in order to sustain our planet. As we live in such a fast-paced society, I wanted to encourage others to live in the moment and ‘slow down’ in order to appreciate the special moments in life. David Attenborough definitely influenced me on this one – my idol!
Tell us a little more about your product, what did you want to create and why? Did you create it to fill a market or out of pure natural evolution? How long did the sampling take to get it right? Did you do any market research for your products?
Every piece of jewellry is handmade to order (by me and my really long fingers). I am obsessed with creating the best personal experience for my customers and love sending them video updates of their jewellery is brought to life by my hands.
I created my brand to fill a gap in the market, but my designs are a purely natural evolution of beautiful treasures. Sampling took a lot of tweaking (and a lot of problem solving) with various versions made. Sometimes a design in my head never comes out the same in reality, but I just kept pushing the boundaries of the design to be something more and more simple, beautiful, and unique. Sometimes the simplest designs are the hardest to create! Originally, I aimed the jewellery at me because I couldn’t find the style of Jewellery I liked elsewhere. After a short while, I realised lots of other people felt the same, and got overwhelmed by the amazing feedback from others.
I’m sure there’s been a few teething problems along the way, share any here which you feel would help another avoid!
In the early days before my launch, I was completely unhappy working a full-time office job in order to save money to fund my Jewellery. I nearly gave up so many times, but the support of my friends and family gave me the strength to continue. I learned that not everything goes to plan... sometimes for the better! Make mistakes and move on quickly so you can learn from them and continue to grow (that’s what I try to tell myself anyway). Oh, and if you are an overthinker like me, don’t get caught up on every little detail, you simply won’t have time to!
Tell us about your logo, boxes, site – what has been your vision, the harder moments, and the best way of saving the pennies along the way?
The mission is to preserve the planet through meaningful treasures. The vision is to be as sustainable and ethical as possible. No metal or wax goes to waste in the making process. Everything we do at SMBL Studio is meaningful & mindful
My logo echoes my whole brand – symbolic.
The hand symbolizes handmade
The wave line symbolizes a lifeline (Your story)
All the symbols joined together to stand for the natural elements – earth, sun, water, highlighting the importance to sustain our planet for our future generations
The logo overall is inspired by ancient hieroglyphs that are hand-carved, just like our Jewellery
Everything we do is intentional – from our logo to our boxes, to our website, to our Jewellery!
Believe it or not the boxes were the hardest thing to finalize! There were so many choices out there but ultimately, I wanted something completely timeless. Every piece of Jewellery arrives in a tiny little box with a handstitched care guide: they say the best things come in small packages. I wanted people to feel like they were opening a teeny tiny treasure that they will cherish forever.
I built my website from scratch which took me the whole of lockdown (perfect timing). My brother is an IT whizz so that really helped when I was stuck! #sisterperks
I am naturally thrifty (thanks to my Dad) so I guess that helped lots and I save money wherever I can, whether that’s using a discount code or when I cycle from south London to north London for Jewellery supplies. Its part of the process to invest money, but I guess its more about knowing when and where to save money in the right places.
It takes a lot of sacrifices!
How did it feel to start receiving orders?
Before launching a collection, you never truly know if people will believe in you, your vision, or your brand, but when it does happen it is the best feeling inside. I really can’t describe it!
How would you describe your brand/product in 3 words?
Symbolic, serene, sustainable. My brand is naturally an extension of me!
Tell us your highlights over your time running SMBL Studio?
There have been so many highlights already in such a short space of time. I would say meeting/celebrating so many amazing people along the way and feeling excited about the journey of growing my brand. Another highlight has to be hearing/sharing people’s stories and making timeless jewellery that symbolize meaningful moments.
What is your best advice to other entrepreneurs with a company like yourself?
Set goals, celebrate your wins, and remember that growth comes in spurts! Time is very undervalued (use it wisely) & try to keep a work-life balance (sorry to my partner who regularly reminds me of this, it’s a work in progress guys). Lastly, hold onto those who support you and help you grow, they are gold (literally).
What would you tell anyone who has a dream and unsure whether to go after it?
You have one life, make it count! You have to go for it or live the rest of your life regretting it, the choice is yours!
Also, If you think about your dream on a regular basis, listen to yourself, trust your gut, have confidence, and take ACTION (it will be worth it). If all else fails add me on Instagram @smbl.studio and I will hype you until the sun goes down!
What are your little moments of happiness throughout the day?
Making authentic connections with people and handcrafting Jewellery that symbolises their inspiring stories. I love how stories can create such powerful connections. Also finding an absolute tune on Spotify that I haven't heard for ages. If I wasn’t a Jeweler I would have been a DJ (Music makes my soul feel alive).
What’s your happy place?
When I feel content at the moment, wherever in the world that may be. I’m an avid believer in living in the moment.
When did you last feel brave? How do you define bravery?
Launching my first Jewellery collection during the Coronavirus pandemic. I felt like I was sharing my soul with the world at possibly one of the hardest times yet?! Some say I’m nuts, (I probably am haha).
I had always planned to launch from June since last year and nothing was going to stop me (can you tell I’m a little stubborn). There is never a right time to do things, and sometimes you just have to go for it.
What do you wish to see more of in the world?
Slow made products that are sustainably made/mindful of our planet, less waste, more thoughtful/meaningful consumerism and more people supporting local businesses/communities.
What inspires you?
Ohh that’s a tricky one... lots of things! I think the more you experience the more you are inspired! But I guess other women smashing it! Nothing more inspiring than seeing other women raising the bar, and supporting each other on their way to the top
Favourite adventure you’ve ever had?
Living my best Life! Seeing each day as an adventure!
Some of the best experiences come out of the most uncomfortable/challenging situations!
What do we need to show more of in the world?
Being mindful of our planet & each other. Also, making responsible lifestyle choices that reflect this.
What do you wish you’d known when you were young?
You are your best hype girl!
It’s not about the resources you have, but your resourcefulness.
What ’s your dream?
I'll let you know once I have nailed it ;)
I also want to say a massive thank you to Charlotte; You, your beautiful bags and your Monday Motivations are a massive inspiration to many!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story and encourage others to follow their dream
Sam at SMBL Studio x
Get in touch if you have any more questions, Id be happy to chat!
Follow @smbl.studio to support Sam's journey and lust over luscious jewellry at www.smbl.co.uk. Thank you for reading!