Ela Williams and Claudia Tutt are friends, business partners and emerging jewellery designers – and they're only 13 years old. The pair launched Crossley Designs early this year, hand-making earrings to order and selling them via direct messages through their Instagram account.
“We both found a way to express our creativity,” Williams tells Broadsheet. “I’ve always liked creative things, but I’d never really made jewellery before. We wanted to design something that people could wear, and that would make people happier.”
The earrings have a modern kitsch aesthetic. They’re made from polymer clay in bold colours – shades of pink, yellow, red and green – and take the forms of stars, squiggles, squares and flowers with contrasting coloured centres. The designers cut shapes using wire then bake the clay in a home oven. The end result has a doughy, putty appearance that looks almost edible. Each pair costs between $5 and $20, plus $2 for shipping.
“It’s a lot of trial and error – that’s how most of our designs come about,” says Williams. “At the start we gave a bunch of our friends earrings so they could trial them and say what they liked.”
Crossley Designs’ aesthetic could be described as Gorman-esque in its quirky, distinctive use of retro shapes and statement colour combinations. There are small, flat studs with marbled faces; statement squiggle drop earrings; and pieces featuring hand-painted delicate designs.
Tutt and Williams draw a lot of inspiration from the natural environment, too. Their use of vibrant colours and natural forms is informed by their surroundings in the small town of Crossley in south-west Victoria, which has population of just over 200.
“We both live in a very remote area, so there’s lots of nature, from flowers to the landscape,” Williams says.
Both girls are currently finishing up year seven, but find the time to make jewellery after school, on weekends and during school holidays. Their ambition is to grow the business by running a stall at the local market, and then to develop a website for their brand. At this stage, Tutt says they have no plans to expand to other articles of jewellery.
“We’re just trying to master the earring thing,” she says.