If you're into your jewellery, you may have heard of The Workbench and if not, where have you been hiding?! The Workbench was set up by Katie Woodward and Kirstie Maclaren - Jeweller BFF's who both own their own jewellery brands (Crux London and Kirstie Maclaren). Together they created The Workbench which is the original ring carving workshop. Perfect for parties, weddings or if you just want be able to say that "hell yeah I made this piece of jewellery". They also sell The Workbench Box which gives you everything you need to create your very own ring at home if you cant make it to one of their many workshops! We got chatting to Kirstie and Katie about how they manage their business and what inspires them.
Glitzbox: How did you come up with the idea for The Workbench?
We are incredibly proud to say we are the original ring carving workshop! The Workbench sprung to life quite unexpectedly (like all the best things). To cut a long story short; Kirstie planned a cross stitch craft night with some friends. I rocked up with a bottle of wine and no threads. Oops! As I had to carve a ring for a customer, I decided to carve while the other girls stitched - we stared at each other and realised 'HEY WE COULD ALL MAKE A RING'. The following day we called our local pub and held the first-ever Workbench Night in Leyton later on that month. That was nearly 4 years ago and since then we have launched The Workbench Box, collaborated with some amazing brands and travelled far and wide making rings with you sparkly lot.
G: What kind of customers seem to be drawn to The Workbench?
Literally all ages and vocations. We are constantly surprised by how diverse our groups are. I think this is all down to our - 'you design your dream ring' mantra (No fixed lesson plan). We help each ring maker individually to create their idea of the perfect ring for them.
G: What's your favourite event or collaboration you have done?
We love Drink, Shop & Do - we always sell out, and when its over we are always like - THEY WHERE AMAZING. We held a great supper club/ring carving with the Spread girls who created a delicious menu. We've worked with great brands such as Nike, Moet & Chandon, Ciate and we have an incredible collab with calligrapher Imogen Owen. She'll be teaching a calligraphy masterclass in the morning, where you will be designing your own monogram. After lunch, we'll be showing you how to hand carve your own signet ring. Your calligraphy design will be engraved onto your signet ring!! SO excited about this.
G: If you had one dream brand ambassador (dead or alive) for The Workbench who would it be?
We can honestly say there is no dream ambassador as the style of rings are so personal and different. But we do love it when we get a group of girlfriends making all the same ring and our wedding band carvers.
G: Where do you see The Workbench going in 2018?
Worldwide. We would love to be teaching people from London, Lisbon to LA!
G: We know you both have your own jewellery brands too, how would you describe your own jewellery style in 3 words?
Crux London : fun, modern and wearable ("I never take it off" is my favourite compliment)
Kirstie MacLaren : Architectural, everyday classics.
G: How do you feel when you put jewellery on?
Katie: I feel really weird without my rings on. Like I have forgotten my underwear. That's a bit weird isn't it
Kirstie: I have a few very small rings that I wear everyday but I actually don't wear that much jewellery - as a maker, it sometimes gets in the way. I wear my 'Braque' hoops nearly everyday though. I really love getting dressed up and wearing some statement earrings - my 'Ellsworth' earrings make me feel very glam!
G: Do you remember the first pieces of jewellery you ever owned or the most important piece?
Katie : I had a signet ring from Argos and I LOVED IT. It was a heart shape REALLY thin and had a tiny suggestion of a diamond - The first piece I ever made for Crux had to be a Signet ring. I have loved them ever since. My new collection has a new signet design. I'm hoping to make a new signet design with every new collection.
Kirstie : Argos over here too! I think it was a birthstone pendant or some hoops to replace my freshly pierced ears after those big studs they put in!!
G: Do you have a favourite up and coming jewellery designer at the moment?
Katie : Everyone who comes to The Workbench and nails their design. Especially when its a more advanced ring design.
Kirstie : Oh my goodness, I feel like there are SO many incredible jewellers out there. I'm obsessed with Seb Brown's signets with coloured stones and different shapes. I share my studio with Jessie Harris and she has always been such an inspiration. When I first met her a few years ago, I told her she was my idol and now I work beside her and class her as one of my bezzies!!G: What is the last thing you do before going to sleep?