I remember when I was setting up my Redbubble shop as a way to promote my personal artwork and I stumbled upon Jade’s page via her seriously awesome Adventure Time fan art. I adored Jade’s girly, detailed and super nostalgic stylings and immediately gave her a follow on every network […]

Meet Jade Boylan, Girl Boss of The Candy Doll Club

How did Sugar & Vice start? Was it always your plan to set up a jewellery business? Sarah : It was never, ever planned. I was working an unfulfilling office job and Matt was scraping a living selling art on eBay when we decided to pool our creative efforts and make some jewellery to sell for extra pocket money. Matt : I'd moved in with Sarah in Manchester and was making a meagre income from selling uninspiring pop-art portraits in an increasingly crowded online market. We decided that it would be nice to figure out a way to supplement our income just enough to maybe pay for a night out once every couple of weeks. We settled on jewellery as it was creative, but also had a low financial barrier to entry and was something we could both work on. We set up shop on Myspace(!) and sold necklaces and also badges, because I had a badge maker from when I made pin badges for punk bands. How do you guys work together as a partnership? Sarah : We're actually very lucky in that we dated for 7 years and have been able to maintain a close friendship since then, so working together always runs very smoothly. We don't have designated roles but Matt's definitely better at the technical and maths stuff, and I'm more suited to the communication and social media based stuff. Everything else we do pretty equally and we're almost always on the same page, creatively. Matt : I think we work well as a team. I tend to suffer from a lack of focus and am terrible at marketing so I'm lucky to have Sarah to help with those, leaving me free to focus on the things I'm better at. In return I tackle most of the technical and more mundane aspects of running a business, such as taxes and web admin. What do you think are the main challenges for small, alternative businesses in the UK? Sarah : It's very tough financially, especially in the beginning, as the UK government doesn't seem very keen to make it easy for entrepreneurial types. The flipside to that is that because times are tough for everybody, there are more and more small businesses cropping up as people try to make ends meet with side projects. It's easy to lose your voice amongst them so maintaining a strong presence and a firm sense of originality can be hard at times. I think we've been around long enough now though, that that's less of a concern these days. You also have to be exceptionally disciplined when you work for yourselves, and that doesn't always come naturally! Matt : Perseverence when things aren't going well can prove very challenging. When you haven't made any money for several days straight and you're left wondering if you're going to be able to pay the rent on time, giving up and getting a 'real' job can be very tempting. Or when you accidentally set your very expensive laser cutter on fire. That sucks too. The other main challenge has been developing a thick skin. Obviously you can't please everyone, but it's still very difficult to not give disproportionate weight to that one piece of negative customer feedback amongst the many positive comments. What are your favourite things about being Sugar & Vice? Sarah : No early mornings! On a more serious note though, there's not much I don't love about running our little business. We've worked hard to establish a good brand identity and a friendly rapport with our customers and so it's the little things that make it all worthwhile, like getting a nice email or being featured on someone's blog. It feels good to know that people like things we've made in our home in Kent enough to tell others about them, or to let us know they're grateful. No 9-5 job can compare with that as it's so personal. Matt : I still find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that so many people out there wear jewellery I've made. Spotting a piece of Sugar & Vice on a complete stranger is incredibly gratifying. I love using the skills I've learned along the way to make gifts for people too. I enjoy seeing someone I care about proudly sporting something I've worked hard on. That's a really good feeling. What are your future hopes and dreams for the brand? Sarah : We've got some pretty awesome ideas for future collections so all I'm hoping is that we can find enough time to bring them to life and unleash them on the World. I don't measure success financially so I already feel pretty damn lucky that I get to do this every day. World domination would be nice, but taking each day as it comes and working hard and doing our best is enough for me. Matt : I would absolutely love to offload some of the more administrative aspects of the business on to professionals so I don't have to deal with the stress of tax returns and such any more. I'm also hoping we get our jewellery appearing in some more TV and films. We've had a few pieces feature in films, as well as the BBC News interview, and I get a real kick out of that!
I’ve known Sarah from Sugar & Vice for quite a long time via my blog, I’ve always been a massive fan of the colourful and playful laser cut acrylic jewellery brand. I randomly met Matt about two years ago when I bumped in him and his girlfriend in Brighton and […]

#BrandLove: The story of alt jewellery brand Sugar & Vice