Interview: Molly Brown London
Erica Illingworth - Founder, Molly Brown London
After Molly Brown launched in 2006, Vogue Magazine described the collection as, “Tiffany’s for little girls” and from that point on they have grown to become the number one girls' jewellery brand in the UK.
Curious to find out her journey from life in the investment banking fast lane to jewellery designer, we sat down with Erica Illingworth, Creative Director of Molly Brown to discover her story and aspirations for the future.
Describe Molly Brown in three words.
Quality. British. Luxury.
Is there a story behind the name Molly Brown?
We used to own a little chocolate brown dog called Molly, she was utterly adorable. I used to have to allow extra time to walk down the road if she was with me as we were stopped by so many people wanting to say hello to her.
You originally worked as a head-hunter in the investment banking sector. What made you venture into jewellery design?
It was my daughter’s birthday and so I decided to buy her some jewellery. For me, jewellery is the only gift that is truly emotional as it holds your memories. I wanted to buy her something that was good quality but affordable, that wasn’t babyish but simple and sophisticated. There was nothing out there and so as I was thinking about a career change at the time, I decided I would try and set up a ‘go-to’ girls’ jewellery brand.
Your designs are always so adorable and include fairies, jelly beans, hearts and stars amongst others. How do you come up with your ideas?
Ideas tend to come to me when I am out and about rather than sitting at my desk. It's hard though as we lead the field, we never ‘buy in’ and every design is exclusive to us. I research international trends and read a lot of jewellery history books. I guess elements or sparks of ideas are planted and then mix with a bit of obsessional interest.
You have created a line for bridesmaids. What makes this so perfect for weddings and what did you consider specifically when designing these pieces?
A wedding day is perhaps one of the most special days in a couple's life and so for me the range had to be truly keepsake. I knew brides would want to give their bridesmaids a gift that they could love and treasure, that they could wear forever and importantly, that would remind them of the part they played on that special day. So, Molly Brown jewellery is fully adjustable to fit most ages and sizes, it can be adjusted as she grows, it really does hold her memories and serve as a lifetime reminder. Also, the essence of the bridesmaids range is classic simplicity; it is bridesmaid jewellery that adds that finishing touch of sophistication and compliments the dresses.
What is your favourite piece of jewellery from Molly Brown?
I love the new Love's First Kiss range. The kiss is set with beautiful white topaz stones and is super sweet. It is a new signature design and inspired by the kisses a child first receives from her family - love's true first kisses.
You have three children. Do they ever get involved with the design process?
Sadly not! My two sons are far more interested in sport and my daughter is a fashion journalist. She has a great eye though, so I am hoping I will be able to convince her to become involved in the future.
You’re best known for designing jewellery specifically for little girls including a birthstone collection, a personalised range and an adorable ‘My first diamonds and pearls’ collection. What’s next for Molly Brown?
We are focussing on the ‘tween’ market and launching an exciting product for Autumn / Winter '17. It is a bangle that the girls will be able to personalise with ‘their world’. There’s nothing out there like it at the moment so we are very excited! We have also been approached by some major international partners and so in the next few years, we aim to take the brand up to the next level from being the number one girls’ jewellery brand in the UK, to being the leading girls' jewellery brand globally.
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