Jo Haynes is the master craftsperson behind BijouByJo, a website that shows off her considerable talents with bespoke creations for weddings and other celebrations.
Jo, tell us more about yourself. When you’re not making bespoke jewellery and keepsakes, what is the everyday Jo Haynes like ?
Ooh where to start! I am married with 2 kids, aged 10 and 13, luckily even though both are getting older (and way cooler than mum) and they say I’m embarrassing they still like hanging around me. My day job is completely different, I work for a charitable trust supporting people with multiple and complex barriers to employment, to help and support them move nearer towards the labour market and hopefully into work, no day is the same, can be very fun, very challenging and often very pressured, to wind down in the evenings I make bouquets, often while watching Dexter or The Walking Dead! I grew up in a florist family, my grandparents owned a flower shop and myself and my sisters learnt at my grandmothers side, learning the traditional techniques needed before Oasis foam was invented.
Your craft is an unusual one – taking old pieces of jewellery and crafting these into something very special. When did you start and what kept you going ?
My dream had always been to become a community worker. But on leaving college I took a position as a senior florist and stayed in this role for 5 years.
It was during this time that I also started volunteering for a youth counselling agency and gained enough experience to put on my CV to change career and begin a career in community work funnily enough I also became allergic to some flowers! My career change came at just at the right time. I always enjoyed wedding work, creating bouquets and arrangements and it was one aspect of floristry I missed, sometimes friends would ask me to make their bouquets and with the help of my sisters and lots of anti histamine I could do it every now and again.
About 3 years ago I was asked to make a wedding bouquet for someone who didn’t like flowers and voila, Bijou was conceived! I love my job and hope to do it forever but I also love making bouquets, I am a bit of a hippy and I also love shiny pretty things, searching for great finds makes me very happy. Creating something unusual makes me happy. I find that doing the day job that I do and combining it with the creative side of me at home fulfils me on all levels.
How do you think your website is doing a couple of years down the line ?
I love my website, it’s really great to be able to direct people to it and know that they are impressed, I also use Facebook, twitter hasn’t tempted me yet although I know I’ve got to get my big girl pants on and get on it, linking them all together. A year on from the website going live- I have teamed up with a friend who is a photographer and professional singer, she has started a wedding planning business and wants to offer a one stop shop for weddings, this has only just been launched but is attracting lots of interest and inquiries, very exciting.
The artisan scene appears to have exploded over the last couple of years. Why do you think arts and crafts seem to be making a comeback on such a level. Is it as a result of the recent recession, or is there more to it than this?
I cannot fail to notice how wedding decoration ideas have evolved, peoples eclectic tastes are celebrated and can be incorporated, years ago everything could be a bit samey but now there is a real appreciation for the home made, the hand picked, the unusual items doggedly sourced to create the correct ambience.
This could be because of recession and trying to be more cost effective, but I actually wonder if it’s because couples are tending to organise their weddings themselves rather than parents? Either way it’s wonderful!
What are your favourite pieces to make and why ?
My favourite bouquet is a jewellery bouquet which was inspired by a peacock brooch. I collected jewellery for months to make this piece, I was going to sell it but now am hiring it out, that way I can keep it forever and every time it’ll back from a wedding with a new story of love woven into it The one thing that I have found difficult about jewellery bouquets as making a bridesmaid bouquet to go with it!
Things tend to disappear into the background, I have now come up with a new range of bouquets to compliment the jewellery bouquets and I think they are stunning! I’m very pleased with them.
Facebook and Twitter are important tools for an artisan like yourself. How have they shaped the way that you work and interact with others ?
Because I use traditional wiring for my bouquets and not oasis I am able to put a hardy bouquet together using interesting materials, I recently set a challenge on my facebook for ideas of what to make a bouquet out of, I’m rather partial to making one out of Barbie and Sindy dolls but suggestions include: crayons, nuts and bolts and an anniversary bouquets incorporating the first 10 years.
I originally said I’d pick one, but every suggestion sounds interesting so I might just give them all a go, keep checking my FB page for progress!
I also decorate venues for weddings and now offer packages for table decorations, hire out Wish trees and am having a sweet cart made! All ready to roll out wedding season 2014.
What is your best achievement to date?
Best achievement to date? I think it’s been how I have managed to continue to do something I love making, that I find fulfilling and great pride in and not try and turn into something too big, whereby I feel stressed and it could become a treadmill of orders, where now every bouquet is made with focus and enjoyment, I try to make everything the best it can be, I limit the amount of orders I take, offer a bespoke service, so everything for me is a joy.