A Scottish online jewellery brand boasting more than 100,000 social media followers and celebrity fans such as Michelle Visage and Jesse J is preparing to celebrate its third anniversary with a showcase of its solid gold piercing accessories.

The pop-up shop at St James Quarter this Friday and Saturday is a first for Laura Bond, who launched her eponymous venture with just £5,000 that she and husband Doug raised from re-mortgaging their flat in Edinburgh. The couple are hoping to break the £1 million sales barrier this year after turning a five-figure profit on revenues of £550,000 in 2021.

“We are really ambitious,” Ms Bond said. “Our target for this year is £1m in turnover. It’s tricky to know – going on last month’s figures, we are up 20 per cent from last year – but it’s hard to know if we will hit that or not, it depends on our Christmas takings and Black Friday and those sorts of things, but we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

Together with Ms Bond’s sister Georgie Gilmour and two further members of staff, the couple have grown what started as a side-hustle into a full-time business designing and selling solid gold earrings for cartilage piercings. The focus is on dainty, feminine styles that Ms Bond – who has 15 ear piercings – found difficult to source at accessible prices.

Born in Southampton, Ms Bond spent much of her childhood in Germany where her father was posted with the Army. Originally from Scotland, the family moved back to Edinburgh when Ms Bond was 18.

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She studied English literature at the University of Liverpool, but without a clear idea of what she wanted to do next, she was “drawn back” to Edinburgh where she landed her first job with Laings, the fifth-generation family jeweller that was split between Scotland’s east and west coast for 12 years between brothers Michael and Stuart Laing before the business was brought back together in 2017.

“I worked as a buying assistant, and then as the managing director’s PA, and then got involved in the website design and then moved into the marketing department when that was started,” Ms Bond said. “I just kind of soaked it all in. They had a designer on site and I loved chatting to her and learning about what she did.

“Because it was a small family business, you didn’t have to stay in your lane. Michael, the managing director, was always really supportive in terms of that.”

She was at Laings for five years before taking a job in marketing and communications with a local property company, followed by a similar role at housing charity the Wheatley Group. But by the time Ms Bond reached her mid-30s, she was yearning for more creative pursuits. Unable to get the kind of pieces she wanted to wear in her piercings, she decided to investigate making her own jewellery.

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“I have always loved jewellery, but I didn’t study it,” she said. “I used to feel like I had a bit of an imposter syndrome about it because I hadn’t trained as a jeweller or had any kind of formal jewellery training, but then I also feel it is actually kind of a strength – just because you haven’t trained in something doesn’t mean it’s ever too late to do what you love, and what you are passionate about.”

After a year of research and sourcing samples, she found a manufacturer in South Korea able to provide small order quantities to her specifications. They launched in June 2019 with 120 pieces in 14 styles, and within a month had sold out of “nearly everything”.

She handed in her notice to Wheatley Group four months later, and has since added manufacturers in Thailand and the UK to bolster supplies. However, she admits that keeping items in stock remains a struggle, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

“At the time lockdown hit, 70% of our pieces were being made in the UK, so our manufacturers were locked down for three months and weren’t making anything,” she said. “That was obviously an issue and on top of that, on the day we went into lockdown our website traffic increased by 800%, so we sold out of everything we had in a month.”

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She used Instagram to talk to customers and explain the issues the business was contending with, and most were sympathetic. She and her husband have now teamed up with a financing partner for upfront investment to overcome long lead times, with this year’s Christmas collection already on order.

The brand’s formidable following on Instagram allows Ms Bond to conduct informal market research to see whether her pieces, crafted with assistance from freelance designer Fiona Cameron, appeal to customers. Feedback dictates what gets stocked.

“When we started with Instagram it was really out of necessity,” she said. “We didn’t have a marketing budget; we didn’t really have a budget for anything. Instagram at the time was a platform I used personally, so it just came naturally.

“But by talking to our community we know what will probably sell well. As a small business that is just invaluable. It’s market research, but for free.”

Q&A

What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

New York for inspiration – the energy there is unmatched and it’s an incredible place to discover new jewellery designers and trends. I prefer Greece for holidays, it’s the best place to relax.

When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

I wanted to be a hair stylist or makeup artist. I liked the idea of working on film sets or fashion shoots and I loved giving friends makeovers. I couldn’t believe you could do something like that and get paid for it.

What was your biggest break in business?

Our Instagram following taking off. We gained more than 40,000 followers in our first year and now have nearly 100,000. There’s no way we’d have grown the way we have without it.

What was your worst moment in business?

It’s a toss-up between lockdowns and Brexit. Lockdowns affected our production times dramatically which meant we kept running out of stock and Brexit killed our EU sales overnight. Both have been challenging.

Who do you most admire and why?

My sister Georgie. She’s the best example of a working mum I know. She managed to take the helm of Laura Bond while I was on maternity leave whilst also being a brilliant mum to her son. I’m so happy she agreed to come and work with me a couple of years ago.

What book are you reading and what music are you listening to?

I’ve got a nine month old baby which means finding time to read has been tricky! He very much enjoys a flap book though.

I listen to music all the time. My playlists at the moment include a lot of 90s throwbacks – you can’t beat the Spice Girls to perk you up after a 5:30am wake-up call.