Elizabeth Herman is turning old into new with her jewellery business, Argent Silversmith.
After Elizabeth found out about silversmithing, the sky became the limit. She bought her tools, found a suitcase full of silversmithing goodies, and started creating beautiful pieces of jewellery that were not only loved by her but also by those around her. Everything in her jewellery is completely ethically and sustainably sourced, from the recycled silver and gold to the second-hand gems, and she will never have Argent Silversmith any other way.
What made you start Argent Silversmith?
I discovered the art of silversmithing through a friend and was immediately hooked. Working metal with my hands (and an array of specific tools of course) made it possible to create any piece of jewellery and my imagination was the limit. I bought the tools I needed and stumbled upon a little suitcase filled with antique silversmithing tools, designs and offcuts, purchased recycled silver wire and sheet and started creating. Argent Silversmith was created a few months later, when I realised that the pieces I imagined and loved to wear were also loved and worn by the wonderful people around me.
What is something others wouldn’t know about creating an ethical business that you think they should?
I think creating an ethical business requires dedication and a real passion for the product you are selling. Most of the ethical businesses I know and love all seem to pour everything they have into their label, ensuring every aspect of it is perfect, from the sourcing of materials, to creating the product, to presenting and marketing it. Personally, I have found it difficult to find the balance between pushing people to consume and advertising my label – I have had valuable feedback from promoters of ethical fashion who have made me realise it is a fine line and marketing is necessary for any business to survive. This can be done through ethical channels though, like sustainable and ethical blogs, magazines, reaching audiences who are actually looking for an ethical product, and organically (word of mouth, pop ups, attending markets, etc).
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since beginning?
I don’t think I realised how much was involved in running a business. Of course there is the creation of the product, which for me is always the most important part—knowing I have made every single piece and that each and every one is unique—but then there is everything else. I have become a website designer, a product and model photographer, a hand model, a master of Instagram and Facebook, an expert in postage and handling, have budding skills in administration and tax return, a market stall carpenter and painter, a novice public relations specialist, a graphic designer and a web researcher, amongst others. Although time management is challenging (especially with a full time job), I have learnt so much since starting Argent that I appreciate every second of.
Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of Argent Silversmith, who made your jewellery?
I did. I always have and I always will. I understand the difficulty of applying this rule to clothing but I believe as long as the people involved in the creative process are treated fairly and ethically and love the product they are making, it is not an issue.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Make what you love. At times, it is tempting to make what the market wants, what the people want, but I think as long as you create the pieces that you love, not what you think other people will love, then your label will never lose its uniqueness, its raw beauty.
One tip you’d give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
Ensure it is ethical and sustainable from the start. I believe my jewellery has always been ethically sourced (the silver and gold is recycled in Australia and the stones/pearls are ethically sourced or reused from old necklaces) and created but I am currently trying to become waste-free and fully sustainable, which is more challenging once you have already started and your business is running smoothly. Implementing sustainable practices from the start would have been much easier than trying to change the process further down the track.
Where do you envision Argent in the future?
Ideally to be as ethical, sustainable and waste-free as can be. This will require some work and time but it is definitely possible.
What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
My tireless imagination, my love for creating and the way people connect with my jewellery. I have been so fortunate to have started my label in a supportive community of incredible, loving people who have been so encouraging over the last few years and have kept me inspired and motivated even when running a business has been at its most challenging.
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
At the moment I am based in Sri Lanka so my morning routine is quite idyllic: wake up at 5.30 and go for a surf for an hour or two (I am only learning so by surf, I mean mostly face planting waves), then have a coffee with my toes in the sand and a tropical fruit breakfast. I then answer emails and post on Instagram before starting to work on some jewellery. I generally love making a new piece I have been thinking about or have sketched first to get my creativity flowing and then work on my orders.
One book everyone should read? Why?
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. It’s probably a bit cliché but I always have this book in the back of my mind and try to be mindful and grateful for every aspect of my life and where it is at the moment.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
I have been following the @ecowarriorprincess on Instagram and always get great inspiration and motivation from her posts. She also always answers messages with insightful advice.
Salt Gypsy is one of my favourites. I love the way they’ve ensured every aspect of their label is ethical and sustainable in a beautiful, simple way.