Q&A: Ringing in a change of career a winning move for jewellery designer

This week we chat to Kate Sutton, formerly a TV producer with a passion for jewellery who created an “Ubercircle” with her daughter’s name printed into the metalwork for when she had to travel the world leaving her baby at home. Kate and her husband Adam decided to use the Ubercircle design as the launchpad for starting their own business, Uberkate.

ISB: What inspired to create for your daughter what would become your first handmade jewellery?

KS: While working as a TV producer at Channel 9 I fell pregnant with my first baby and I was taking silver smithing classes during the evenings and playing with metal in my garage every spare minute I had. I’d carried a set of vintage letter stamps around for years and one day the penny dropped.

I decided to use them to emboss my name, my husband’s name and kept one spare for our yet to be named baby. There was no such thing as personalised jewellery at the time, there was nothing like the circles available. My business was born from my desire to carry my little baby girl Lulu’s name with me when we were together and apart.

ISB: How did you arrive at the decision to turn that hobby into a business venture?

KS: The truth is it was all a bit loose and accidental. I had a great group of creative friends in media and one offered to make me a website, another to take photos and yet another was a graphic designer and offered to pull it all together. It was 2002 and Australians weren’t comfortable buying things online, it wasn’t until 2005 that the website business really started to take off.

My husband and business partner Adam is the one who made us take the leap of faith while I was pregnant and we put our savings into starting a website for the jewellery I made at nights and on weekends. We were saving to buy a house, but he gave me the confidence to start a business instead.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge in making the transition from producer to entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?

KS: My greatest challenge in moving from TV producer to Entrepreneur was getting rid of my imposter syndrome. Having done a Communications degree and worked in Radio and then TV I always felt very confident that I was “trained” to do the work I was doing.

When you take a leap of faith and leave a solid career that you love to step away and do something risky and not being done by anyone else you know, it’s a battle to mentally keep yourself moving

forward and believing in what you are doing.

When I left travel program Getaway, people thought I was mad and I was wracked with self-doubt many nights during the early years in business… about year five when we started showing at Jewellery shows and signed on our first retailers is when I finally realised I didn’t have any doubts left and that designing and crafting jewellery is my purpose.

ISB: How do you balance the roles of business owner and creative, keeping a personal touch in your designs while maximising sales to keep the business viable?

KS: I am always marrying the personal and professional with my business; I wear all my own jewellery and like to show women how to make the most of their Uberkate pieces through social media. Our cocktail ring range is a good example of both sides coming together; it’s a smart business move as it seems to be really resonating with women who are responding to our hashtag #buyyourowndamnring.

The cocktail ring was born in the USA in the 1920’S as a symbol of female empowerment. Bought by young women who were finally earning their own money and buying bright sparkly rings to wear on their RIGHT hands, show the world “they bought their own damn rings!” Creatively, these rings are beautiful – they have a timeless, versatile elegance and are suitable for all ages.

ISB: How do you see the business developing in the next couple of years?

KS: We are just about to open our first flagship store, the House of U, in Willoughby. I want to give people the full experience of what is inside my mind. I’ve been planning on opening a store for so many years and I’ve finally gotten around to it! In 10 years’ time I see us in a few other locations. New York is definitely on the list – I will keep dreaming and manifesting until I get there!

ISB: Finally, what is the #1 piece of advice you’d give to those looking to give up a “safe job” and start their own business?

KS: You need a flexible mindset to run a business, and octopus arms to keep all the balls in the air, but it’s so incredibly rewarding to watch something you create come to life and flower. What started as a passion project to wear my story and family around my neck ended up kick-starting a global demand for personalised jewellery.

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