WHILE the pandemic has been a disenchanting time for Belgooly designer Lorna Rumley it was the making of her as a businesswoman.
The UCC Commerce with Italian graduate never imagined that her Luna Ray Jewellery line would gain the traction that it has.
After taking the plunge last January, the orders came in faster than she could have ever imagined. It reached a point where demand was so high, she no longer had the space to work on her orders.
Her father stepped in with a solution after converting the garden shed in her family home into a workshop for Lorna.
From that day on, she was working round the clock to cater for demand. The hard work has paid off!
“I was living in rented accommodation in The Lough and didn’t want to be taking over the kitchen with all these orders coming in,” she explained.
“My dad decided to surprise me after converting the garden shed into a studio.
She described how the business idea was sparked.
“I had been studying art and design in Stiofáin Naofa. I wanted to go into fashion design but didn’t know how I could make money out of it. It only took me 11 years and a pandemic to make me realise what I finally wanted to do.
“My mum is an interior designer so art is something that is in my family.
"One of the positive things to come out of this pandemic is that I can be in my own creative bubble.”
Lorna’s earrings are crafted from an array of materials, including clay, stainless steel, sterling silver and brass components. Some are hand-painted with acrylic paints, gold leaf or finished with a gloss.
Her collections also have a sharp focus on sustainability.
“I try to be eco-friendly so the earrings come in 100% cotton bags and are wrapped in acid-free tissue.
“I released a collection based on sustainability using my leftover clay. The idea was that, instead of throwing out my leftover clay, I would use it for one-of-a-kind pieces. Everyone loved the concept. I put seven pairs on the website and they sold out straight away.”
The business name ‘Luna Ray Jewellery’ was inspired by one of her very first pairs of earrings shaped like the moon, or ‘Luna’ in Latin.
Currently focusing on earrings, she is looking forward to expanding her artistic horizons. For now, however, she is content to watch her “baby” grow.
“I have my degree so it’s nice to marry everything and put it into something creative. I enjoy making earrings and matching them with clothing. I love the challenge of that.
“My inspiration can come from anywhere. It can from something I see in a magazine or something outside in nature. The biggest highlight for me is seeing people wear my pieces. It means so much to me when people post a picture wearing my earrings.”
The lockdown has presented unique opportunities to Lorna.
“I have staple pieces made with black and white clay and gold leaf metallic,” she explained.
“My first collection I did on a whim. I couldn’t believe how many people were buying earrings,” she beamed.
“My guess is that, with so many people using zoom, earrings were one of the first things you saw. Even while out and about wearing masks, all anyone was seeing was eyes and ears so the earrings were very important.”
One of Lorna’s favourite aspects of the job is exploring new materials.
“I love the materials that I get to work with. Polymer clay is one I use a lot. The first time I came across it was when I was abroad. I lived in the States for a while and saw this material being used. Out of boredom, I decided to give it a whirl. It worked out really well and has been very popular.”
She described how the venture has helped her both connect with old friends and form new collaborations.
“The traffic went up during lockdown and I’ve been blown away by the reaction. The business has gone from strength to strength.
"I’m amazed at how many people I’ve connected with since setting up the business. A lot of local influencers have been wearing the earrings in posts online. Even people I haven’t spoken to for years who I knew from primary school have been getting on to me, which is really heart-warming.”
To find out more visit https://lunarayjewellery.com/