Scottish Sea Glass
3rd June 2016
Founder: Mrs Gaynor Hebden-Smith
Gaynor Hebden-Smith took her childhood fascination with sea glass and made it into a remarkable home business
Gaynor Hebden-Smith had always collected sea glass. The delicate, weathered pieces of glass that she used to find on the beaches of Scotland fascinated her as a child. This fascination became a hobby when she started making arts and crafts out of the sea glass, and then, once she began a family, her handcrafted jewellery became her business.
Scottish Sea Glass, much like Gaynor’s intricate and elegant pieces, came together organically. “One day I realised that I could make a go of it.” With no major plans, and having begun her career as an occupational therapist, Gaynor set up her first home business.
Whereas others jewellers will use artificially weathered glass, Gaynor collects only naturally tumbled sea glass from the Scottish coastline. This dedication to the natural beauty of the sea glass and the heartfelt connection to the Scottish heritage of her products have been her most valuable selling points.
Such is the appeal of this genuinely organic, Scottish craft that Gaynor has quickly outgrown her first home office. “The whole thing started out on the kitchen table, but it just got bigger and bigger to the point where the kitchen table was not going to be enough.”
The whole thing started out on the kitchen table
Gaynor decided to extend her home, and she now runs the business from a purpose-built workshop. This has brought a helpful separation between home and work life: “Switching off was sometimes difficult when I was working at the kitchen table. With my own workspace, I love the fact that I can take a step over the threshold and be ‘at work’ away from the rest of my home life. Sometimes even your family need to understand that you are at work, and that it is no longer family time. It makes for a bit of calm that is great for me personally as well as for the business!”
Working at home also makes Gaynor more aware of the need to network online. “There is clearly a lot of personal value in having a home business, but you do not always get the recognition externally. This is why online communities and networks are so important. It can be hard as a sole trader.” Social media has also acted as an important source of inspiration for Scottish Sea Glass: “Connecting with people on Facebook to share ideas is very helpful.”
Bringing in business through the website, though, is probably the most valuable contribution that technology has made to Scottish Sea Glass: “My website is essential; I get commissions in from it on a daily basis. Simply put, I would not have the business I have today without technology.”
With these resources at her fingertips, Gaynor loves the balance that she is able to create between time to focus on her business, and the need to get out there, network, and source new customers. “The peace and quiet is key. You can pick and choose how you make contact with people. I usually meet up with people that go along to the same trade fairs as me.”
These fairs have been an ever-present part of the business: “I started out at craft fairs to test whether it would sell. The Scotland Trade Fair, in January and September every year, has been a particularly useful place to showcase my products. I go along to every one.”
I will always be a champion of setting up at home
Scottish Sea Glass will always be a Scottish business at heart, but it seems unlikely that Gaynor will be moving it out of home any time soon. And she expects plenty more to follow suit: “This momentum is building. It will explode some point soon, and I will always be a champion of setting up at home.”