Shelly is the artist behind personalised silver jewellery brand, Fingerprints. She told us about the customers that pull at her heartstrings more than any other.
Shelly and her team at Fingerprints have been handcrafting personalised silver jewellery - often incorporating fingerprints, handprints, footprints and even pawprints - for almost a decade. They use pure silver in the form of a clay which allows fingerprints, hand and footprints and drawing impressions to be taken or transferred on to a piece of jewellery, then fired in a kiln to form a pure silver pendant.
We caught up with Shelly to discover what she loves so much about creating bespoke pieces, and she shared a couple of her favourite, most heart-warming customer stories with us as well.
Have you always been artistic? When did you know that you wanted to create jewellery?
I think I have always had an artistic streak in me. I don’t know that I necessarily realised it until I took over Fingerprints back in 2012. I do know that when the opportunity presented itself to own my own business making jewellery, I didn’t hesitate.
Can you remember the first piece you ever made? Do you still have it?
My very first order was for several hand and footprint pendants. I remember being super excited to make them. Because each piece I make is custom ordered, I don’t actually get to keep anything I make unless I make something for myself! So, the very first piece of jewellery I made for myself was of three small circle fingerprint pendants, each of my three children. I still have it and wear it daily.
Where did you learn your craft?
I bought this business from my friend and she trained me up on how to make jewellery. Obviously, has time as gone by, I’ve experimented/changed things up and developed my own skills and ways of doing things.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Because my jewellery is super personalised (you can’t get more personalised than someone's actual fingerprint or hand/footprint), I am inspired daily by the people I meet, their stories and their take on what they want. I keep my selection small (sometimes too many options is confusing) but I am always happy to work with people to create what they want if possible.
Where do you source your materials from?
My materials are sourced from local suppliers. The pendants are handcrafted and made by me personally and are made from pure silver. All of the chains are sterling silver and are sourced locally.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me always starts with a coffee and exercise, usually a quick gym session and a dog walk with a friend! Because I work for myself and work from home, I can be flexible with my hours. I love to clear any emails/enquiries first thing (very early with a coffee on the couch) then head out of the door to take in some activity. This puts me in a great mindset.
I try to stick to a couple of set times for manufacturing unless I have urgent orders then I’ll make extra time to do this. You can often find me on the couch at the end of the day responding to emails as well! Because my kids are a lot more independent now (late teens) I am partial to working during the weekend if I want to. Sometimes I get to a Monday and the decks are cleared and I feel like it’s a Saturday!! I love the flexibility so pretty much no day feels like hard work especially when you do what you love.
What kind of person do you think buys and wears your creations?
I don’t think there is any particular type of person that buys my jewellery. I used to think that my jewellery was targeted at new mums with babies but in actual fact the deceased and sick make up about 70% of my business. These people or their families purchase my jewellery out of a need to create a lasting keepsake of their loved one be it a fingerprint item or hand/footprint item. These ones pull at my heart strings and I am exposed to so much sadness at times that it can be all consuming. At the same time I am also very privileged to be able to create jewellery that is more than just jewellery. It is a part of their loved one and that is very significant. I also have Kiwi celebrities and sports stars who are fans of my jewellery!
Do you have a favourite piece of customer feedback about the Fingerprints products – or any commissioned pieces that really stand out?
One of my best friends had a set of her parents fingerprints on a chain. She lost it and was heart broken. She knew she had it in the house somewhere but just couldn’t find it. Her mother passed away so I rushed in and took another two prints (as well as another two of her dad's), it is her most favourite piece of jewellery (and man she has some jewellery!!) and I absolutely love that she loves it so much.
What are your future plans for Fingerprints? What is the dream for the company?
I love my little business and would love to grow it! I would just love for more people to know about me……to somehow get the word out there. I hate it when people say to me ‘I wish I’d known about you before (…….) died’. That just breaks my heart.
Learn more about Fingerprints here.