Hobby to Business – Mad Mog’s Purrfect Designs

Jules Holbrook aka Mad Mog Jewellery constructs intricate chain mail jewellery with stunning results. We asked Jules to tell us how her passion has turned from hobby to business.

Finding the missing link

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I know it’s a cliché, but I’ve loved art and craft all my life. However it wasn’t until my four children became more independent that I decided to get serious about it. In my late thirties I went back to college, starting right at the bottom with a GCSE in Art and Design, and culminating in a BA (Hons) in Craft Design. After finishing my degree I had big ideas about earning a living as a ceramicist. Real world finances intervened and I started looking for other materials that didn’t need quite such a big initial outlay. I played around with resin, mosaic, textiles, bead weaving…you name it I’ve probably tried it. I had so much fun, but still didn’t feel I’d really found my ‘thing’. Then by chance I picked up a chain mail kit at one of the Hobbycraft shows in Birmingham, and that was it. The magic of combining little rings of wire and making something beautiful still amazes me.

Keeping a paw in

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I’d been chainmailling for a couple of years before deciding to take the plunge in June and starting up Mad Mog Jewellery. Friends and family kept saying I should sell my work, but it’s a very scary thing to think about. My business name was inspired by my totally delinquent cats. Radar and Smokey are the Bonnie and Clyde of the cat world, and Willow is a little cross-eyed tortoiseshell who can melt the hardest heart with a look.

She who dares

The first thing I aimed at doing was getting a presence on the web. I don’t drive, so I am restricted as far as craft fairs are concerned. I set up a shop onFolksy and Etsy, made a Facebookand Twitter page, got a domain name, web space and suchlike. I am working on my website and hope to have that live soon. I have done a few local fairs. I only sold a few pieces, but the experience and feedback made them worth doing. Getting your name out there so that people actually know you exist is the number one priority. I aim to do more local fairs next year. It’s slow going, and I often feel totally out of my depth, but it’s also very exciting and I’m really glad I plucked up the courage to give it a go.

Show your concern

We will be sending Jules a little parcel of goodies for her contribution to the Bead Barmy blog.

Have you managed to turn your beading hobby into a business? We would love to hear about it, whatever stage you are at, whatever size and however successful it’s been. Tell us about reasons why you started, the ups and downs and what the future holds. Please send us a bit about yourself to creative@beadsunlimited.co.uk in an email entitled ‘Bead Barmy – Hobby to Business’ and we’ll be in touch. Ideally we’d like a few good quality pictures of  your work included and one of yourself. Please ensure that the pictures are no more than 5mb in total for each email. If you have your own website or blog that you would like to be linked to if you are showcased, please let us know with your entry. All we ask is a mention with a link to Beads Unlimited on your page (with a link on the word ‘beads’).

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  1. Erika says:

    Great interview – and very inspirational. Well done Jules!

  2. Carrie V says:

    Yay for Madmog! :D

    Her work is lovely and very stylish :)


  3. christine bullock says:

    your work is inspirational ! this is a first for me to reply to email, so that sums it up – dont you think?

  4. Sharon says:

    Hi Jules.

    Love the Jewellery, I am just getting started with Chain Maille and have done several projects already and love it. May I ask where you get most of your Jump Rings from? I find that different shops sell them in ‘mm’ only, and some tarnish quickly. Your advice will be very gratefully received :-) .

  5. Hi Sharon,

    Do you mean just 1mm thick or that the measurements are written in mm? As far as tarnishing is concerned, because of its nature, silver plated ones will tarnish in time. I have found that keeping my jewellery in a sealed plastic bag helps prevent this from happening as the air can’t get to it. We do a whole range of jump rings in different finishes that don’t tarnish so easily – such as black antique, antique gold etc. Here’s a link if you’d like to take a look – http://www.beadsunlimited.co.uk/home/search.php?searchfor=jump+rings&x=12&y=10
    If you would like to contact Jules directly, it may be best to do it via her facebook page (the link is in our post above). Hope this helps.

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