Helen Clement - Founder of Decadorn
Posted on March 15 2017
This week, we interviewed Helen Clement, founder and creative director of Decadorn - a beautifully curated collection of handcrafted jewellery pieces, sourced from Brazil. Helen's pieces are now stocked in forty outlets including Harvey Nichols and Anthropologie.
In this interview, we learn more about Helen's story from interiors and fashion buyer to jewellery maker and business owner, and her plans for expansion.
Danielle Newnham: What were you like growing up?
Helen Clement: I was very creative. Constantly gluing sequins and buttons onto anything I could find, cutting holes in lampshades so the light would make a pattern on the walls. And I was an avid viewer of Hartbeat!
Newnham: What drew you to the creative industries – didn’t you start in fashion/interiors?
Clement: Yes I trained in Textiles at Nottingham Trent, specializing in print, but I realised I didn't want a career in design so I applied for a trainee position as a buyer at NEXT. I started in interiors then moved to womenswear, before moving to London to buy for Monsoon Homeware, and finally back to fashion at Arcadia. I had a fantastic career in buying, travelled the world,learned lifelong skills and met some amazing people, but ultimately it became more about management and less about the product so I decided to break away.
I had always had an interest in jewellery and accessories and I didn't want to start a fashion label and I hadn't the space to start developing and wholesaling interiors, so I started small. My husband and I went to California when I left my job, to travel for a month and I found the most incredible crystal and stone jewellery that I hadn't really seen in the UK before. My husband bought me a ring and it started for there; I began to source the product from wherever I could, getting samples and building relationships with suppliers.
I then launched Decadorn at Spitalfields Market at a Jewel East event. An Anthroplogie buyer came to the event and selected some items there and so from that moment, my journey had started!
The name Decadorn was born from wanting a unique name that we had created from meaningful words. I played about for hours merging words together and eventually the words decoration and adornment kept coming up and Decadorn was created.
Newnham: Can you tell us about some of the obstacles you have faced starting and growing your business over the last few years and how you overcame them?
Clement: I'd say my biggest obstacle is myself. Working alone for 5/6 years was sometimes very lonely and I lost my way a few times. But having a husband in the creative industry helped pull me through those times as just having another person to talk things through with is so important. That's why last year I asked an ex-colleague if she would be interested in joining me grow the brand and she did! We haven't looked back and Decadorn is now going from strength to strength.
Since Alex has started, we have exhibited at three trade shows and grown from around 10 to 40 stockists. We sell through Harvey Nichols and have recently started trading with a Australian website. Running a business is so much more enjoyable with another person to bounce ideas off and have a cuppa with thorough out the day. We are both mums and have to balance the workload with family life, but I think I'm so lucky to be able to have this lifestyle, after working in huge corporate companies for eight years, this was definitely the right choice.
Newnham: What’s in store for you and your business this year?
Clement: We have just started stocking some higher end boutiques which we are so excited about, including Osprey, Babington House - part of the Soho House group and Einzelstuck, a beautiful vintage lifestyle store in Switzerland. We are working with a new photographer who works in the fashion industry and have some fantastic ideas for the website. And we are also taking part in Stylist Live in November, we haven't done a consumer show before so it's a really exciting time.
Newnham: Who/what inspires you?
Clement: I'm constantly searching through Pinterest and Instagram for new ideas. Colour, texture and pattern all play a part in my development. I'm heavily influenced by the stones that I am shown by my supplier and I'm constantly on the search for new developments of stones I haven't used before, carving new shapes and using new finishes to keep the range as fresh and exciting as possible.
Newnham: If you could go back in time to when you started out, what advice if any, would you offer a younger Helen?
Clement: To travel to Brazil before I had kids! I don't expect this will happen for a while now, but my suppliers are very cooperative and we do a lot of work from photographs and FaceTime so I can see the stones we are working with.