Gemma Redmond is the stylish, savvy and inspiring founder of Gemma Redmond Vintage – an online vintage costume jewellery destination. With an exquisite collection of jewellery and accessories ranging from the 1800s to the 1990s, Gemma has a sharp eye for style, elegance and timelessness, and is passionate about connecting vintage pieces with today’s contemporary style.
Gemma curates a stunning collection of designer and unsigned pieces from around the world. She stocks the likes of Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, to beautiful un-signed items, such as 1930s art deco necklaces or pearl earrings from the 1980s.
Gemma tells us how she started her business, what she loves most about travelling, why House of Dior inspires her, and what she looks for when sourcing her vintage collections. She also gives advice to those aspiring to start their own business.
Enjoy the interview.
Tell me the Gemma Redmond Vintage story. How did you begin? Did you always dream of being a vintage jewellery dealer, or being in a field similar?
I launched Gemma Redmond Vintage in December 2014, leaving my job as a primary school teacher to establish the business. It had always been a dream of mine to work in the world of fashion and, after becoming widowed in 2011, I decided that life was too short not to pursue this goal. Having collected vintage jewellery for a long time, it was clear that this should be my style field of choice. So, I set up my online boutique selling vintage costume jewellery for the modern woman. My aim was to deliver pieces with a story that compliment contemporary style and work with today’s trends.
Who is the Gemma Redmond Vintage woman?
She is style conscious and takes inspiration from the past to bring originality to her look. She loves quality, interesting and fun pieces. When she dresses, she isn’t restricted by occasion, but is instead led by what she loves and the items that make her happy.
What have you learnt about business and entrepreneurship since starting Gemma Redmond Vintage? Is there any advice you can give to someone who is aspiring to start their own business, or do you have any tips for anyone wanting to go into the vintage industry?
So much! If you are able to, try everything once, so that you know what paths and ideas work for your business. Plan your days – every second counts when working for yourself. Have the confidence to approach those you admire or who are in strong positions – you never know where their advice and support might take you. Attend Summer Schools/Evening Classes in the fields you are interested in to build up your knowledge base before pursuing your idea.
What are the three things you love most about what you do?
Buying (and wearing) beautiful things – I shop for a living and you can’t beat that! Making clients happy – it’s wonderful to see people get joy from something you’ve selected! Earning a living from my hobby – running Gemma Redmond Vintage has never once felt like work!
Your typical day looks like?
A typical day at Gemma Redmond Vintage will involve some or all of the following… Packaging and dispatching orders. Photographing, researching, describing and uploading new pieces. Preparing for shows. Contacting press and stylists and putting together loans to them. Updating my followers on social media (especially Instagram) about the business. I write about vintage jewellery and accessories as well, so I’ll be generally putting together blog posts and writing articles too.
Do you travel much for business, or more for leisure? What do you enjoy most about travelling, eg. the food, culture, style?
I try to travel equally as much for leisure as I do for business. I do a lot of travelling to find the best vintage pieces, so I often aim to combine buying trips with holidays. I’ve just got back from Utrecht – where I was able to source some great jewellery and bags one day and go sightseeing the next. I really enjoy sampling the different foods an area has to offer when I travel. My boyfriend and I like to research the best restaurants before we travel. I’m also a big fan of museums and shopping for products made in the country I’m visiting.
Is there a certain area in the world you love travelling to, or dream of travelling to?
I went on a wonderful tour of California with my parents when I was 16. It was one of the most memorable holidays I’ve ever been on and so I would love to go back to California and hunt for vintage treasures in the sunshine!
Where do you get your inspiration? Do you find travelling to different countries helps with inspiration?
I’m inspired by how elegant, creative and important fashion brands, like the House of Dior, style themselves and present their work. I’ve visited the Dior flagship store on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris a number of times and I am always in awe of the style and history there. I always like to think about how the designers of the jewellery I sell would like their pieces to be represented too – I’m inspired by their work and skills.
Gemma Redmond Vintage stocks a range of designer and unsigned jewellery pieces and accessories. Are there any particular qualities you look for when sourcing/buying your pieces? Is there a certain brand you really love, or do you tend to gravitate towards the unsigned pieces?
I always try to select pieces for their wearabilty and versatility – they need to be able to be work with today’s fashion and to be able to be worn for all kinds of occasions. I look for quality, craftsmanship, interesting design, eyecatching colours, condition, prestige and fascinating back-stories. I want my pieces to evoke the time periods in which they were made and to reflect the skills and ideas of their designers. If an item has all or most of these qualities, then I don’t mind if it’s named or unsigned. If I love it, then someone else will surely love it too. I do have a few favourite designers though, whose work I seem to gravitate to in my buying. I’m a big fan of the Christian Dior couture jewellery from the 1950s and 1960s and the 1940s gold tone statement jewellery by Joseff of Hollywood.
What are your best tips for styling statement jewellery pieces for every day wear?
For statement jewellery, I would suggest selecting the piece first and then building the look around it. Perhaps there’s a key colour in the item that you could select a piece from your wardrobe to match or tone with it? For a daywear trend, why not pair a statement necklace on top of a quirky graphic t-shirt? For evening, work statement earrings with a top-knot and a chic minimal slip dress.
Is there a particular businessperson you look up to and admire?
That’s a really tough question, as there are so many people with great ideas working hard. I do particularly admire Leandra Medine Cohen, the founder of Man Repeller, though. She’s succeeded in building a company that reflects her fun and open personality. Not afraid to be herself, she’s clearly enjoying every minute of a job she built for herself and is, at the same time, inspiring others.
What does the future look like for you and Gemma Redmond Vintage?
I’ve just begun stocking vintage bags, so I hope to expand further into this area. I’d also like my jewellery to start being retailed on a small scale in some independent boutiques, so that I can reach more people in the UK with my business. It would be great to start working with costume designers to see my jewellery featured in tv and film productions too. Eventually, I hope to become a go-to brand for anyone who loves vintage and fashion.
E’s Wearing: Monet 1980s Gold Plated Chain Vintage Statement Necklace, Chanel 1980s Vintage Coco Earrings, Yves Saint Laurent 1990s Vintage Blue Glass Ring, Christian Dior 1968 Vintage Rhinestone Earrings, 1920s Citrine Crystal Vintage Flapper Necklace, Ungaro Bracelet