A set of career profiles exploring different routes into the craft sector
What We Do
We are Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden, and we met at art school then founded Tatty Devine together in 1999. Tatty Devine design, manufacture and sell playful acrylic jewellery, designed in East London and made in Kent. Our standout designs are all about expressing yourself in a fun and distinctive way. We like to make jewellery that blurs the boundaries between art, fashion and culture.
Jobs in Jewellery
There are so many jobs in the industry. In our business alone we have around 20 different job titles, ranging from Stores Supervisor to Jewellery Maker, Creative Director to Merchandiser. Our jewellery is involved in every job role, from developing, making and selling, to analysing the sales. We have found over the years that many of our employees have come from a craft, textile or art background. Their passion in this general area of expertise helps them excel at their role and instills a genuine interest in what they do.
Growing up, we were both surrounded by craft— our mothers made a lot of our clothes, not to mention the soft furnishings around the house. Although we both studied Fine Art, we have both always been drawn to the act of making, its inherent tactility and the importance it has within culture.
What We Studied
We both followed subjects we were interested in or were good at. We both had career advisors at school who weren’t very helpful as we were both pointed in the direction of teaching. There wasn’t much understanding of the vast array of directions art could take you in. Neither of us had a fixation on what we wanted to be, and there was very little encouragement to explore creative fields, which is odd seeing that we are both very creative. We both studied Art at A level, Harriet also studied Classics and Art History. Rosie also studied Geography, and Theatre Studies.
Harriet did an Art Foundation at Central St Martins and Rosie did hers at Kingston University. We massively appreciated the breadth of subjects we covered, but both settled into painting in our second term. We then both went on to do Painting at Chelsea School of Art. We both did the 3 year degree course and then started Tatty Devine very soon after.
Our Career Path
Tatty Devine has been a high-speed journey! In 2019, we will have been working together as Tatty Devine for 20 years. Our products, the team, the business and the brand have all developed enormously over this time period and there have been many experiences and opportunities. We are both very positive people and have always seen these moments as milestones on the journey.
When we left college and started making things to wear together, we didn’t have any money and we just didn’t want to look like anyone else and so we created an identity quite quickly.
One night we found bags and bags of discarded leather sample books outside a furnishing company, we dragged them home and made some leather wristbands which we sold at a couple of markets. This was actually a brilliant way to pay the rent while we worked out what we wanted to do with our lives before deciding to find a studio together in 2000. We discovered 236 Brick Lane, which quickly became our studio and not long after, our very own shop. A year later, we showed at London Fashion Week which gave us an industry and framework from which to work and it enabled us to start selling wholesale all over the world. In 2003 we opened our second shop in Soho (now relocated in Covent Garden) and Tatty Devine began to gain momentum. We were fortunate enough to have signed up to the local Business Centre right at the start, which helped guide us through running a fashion business and gave us much needed support along the way.
The most important decision we both made was to follow our hearts— we both were driven by the desire to avoid getting ‘proper jobs’. We did have career advisors at school but they were very gender-biased, and teaching was the only career path ever to be suggested. To an extent, the same was true at all levels of education, but our tutors at degree level were incredibly inspiring as they were also following their own art practice and creating work as artists. This is what really led us to believe that we too, could be artists.
There are challenges every day, often ones that involve working things out for yourself. It is always good to have friends on hand who work in a similar field and who may have experiences that can help you overcome any challenges that come your way.
Be passionate about what you make and do, learn as much as you can about its history and practice as much as possible. Find people who you like to talk to about your work, join in and find your local craftspeople — be part of the community, in real life and online. Parents should encourage young people and know it is a beautiful life being able to make a living out of something you love doing — there are never any ‘Monday Mornings’ when you are doing something you love.