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An Interview With Irish Jewellery Designer Johanna Harpur

· Top Stories,Interviews

"The day I completed the Dublin marathon, I knew I could do anything"

Although we meet plenty of people on a regular basis, not very often do we meet people who stick firmly in our memory, like Johanna Harpur did for me, when we met for the first time last year in Dublin. It was a very very cold late January morning at the RDS, as we both set up our stands for the imminent Showcase Ireland 2017 and it was freezing with all doors open, and I felt the need to have a walk around to warm up! As I paced the hall, taking it all in, I stumbled upon Johanna who was indeed as cold as I was, waiting for her print work to arrive and we started to talk a quick hello turned in to an hour-long conversation about this, that and the other, and I knew then that this girl was a force to be reconned with in business, and I have enjoyed her friendship ever since.

Jo Harpur irieh Jeweller logo, interviewed by Self Starter Magazine May 2018
Johanna has a very gentle way about her and a soft tone of voice and although she, like the rest of us, is human and suffers the nasty plights of self-doubt from time to time, possesses an inner strength and passionate determination which shines through her entire being and let me tell you, this girl is certainly both comfortable and capable of being in charge. She has an exquisite eye for the highest quality of workmanship, she is fully responsible for her carefully created designs and she has a complete understanding of the accessory-conscious woman of today. Her scaled back, yet spot-on designs are a joy for the consumer to discover.

As we sit and chat during the interview, drinking delicious cups of tea and munching on our freshly baked scones, I detect unmistakable evidence of a devoted businesswoman who has a crystal clear vision of what her business is, how it will grow, what it will entail, how she will get where she wants to go and when she wants to do it.

This girl is wise enough to pace herself; to get it right from the start and to make sure that her business grows, never to the detriment of her family life, husband, and three children, but alongside and very much entwined with her loved ones.

Self Starter Magazine Interview with Johanna Harpur Irish jewellery designer May 2018

Only a few years ago, the need for breaking out of the corporate world of her husband`s business and creating something worthwhile of her own became evident, and it drove her to start pondering on an entrepreneurial venture of her own, and so, Jo Harpur Jewellery was born. After having studied the handicraft with the renowned Dublin based goldsmith Deirdre O`Donnell, Jo, although she loved the process, realized that she was destined for designing and orchestrating the production process, rather than being the one holding the pliers, saws, and files!

Initially, Jo created a stunning signature disk in solid gold; hand engraved with diamond studded initial in an ancient Celtic font, and rapidly, she started to gain recognition, but, as each piece demanded a price of €700.00 a pop, she soon ran out of friends who could afford this luxury! The plan to make the same beauty more affordable was put in place.

After a year of hard work, she succeeded to create these wonderfully individual pieces, and as personalization is the future in all categories of accessories, she is truly on the right path.
Having worked her way through the nearly mandatory shedding of blood, sweat, and tears, Johanna now has a trustworthy and reliable manufacturer in Spain, who re-creates all her pieces for her according to the molds she gets made and perfected in Dublin. This way she can keep full control of the outcome of her collections.

The defining moment for Johanna, when she truly realised that she had "made it" was when she was on board a plane with her children, who very loudly, to Jo`s both embarrassment and excitement, declared that their mum`s jewellery was indeed on sale in the Cara Magazine of Aerlingus, where she now is the best selling jewellery brand of this esteemed airline.

Self Starter Magazine Interview with Johanna Harpur Irish jewellery designer

"I am fearless in the pursuit of what sets me on fire"

Jo works closely with her family and friends, and ropes in their talents when needed; her eldest daughter Aoife is an established model for the brand and second daughter Kerrie Ann is ready to soon shoulder that role as well! Jo`s sister Ann Marie is a helping hand when it comes to selecting the gems, with her being a fully qualified gemologist. Since the initial launch in 2016, Jo`s brand has gone from strength to strength and she is now represented by large national and international retailers in both Europe, USA and on the Orient. Only lately, she began a partnership with South African Airlines which is proving to be very successful and she is thrilled with the recognition her hard work receives around the globe.

Jo Harpur Jewellery began as so many businesses do, due to a childhood fascination or connection to a certain thing, a feeling or a memory, and Johanna`s love for sparkle and shine began when she, as a little girl, breathless with anticipation, dressed herself up in her mother`s coats and adorned herself with her pearls. I can very well understand how this prompted a lifelong love for beauty and elegance in the young girl`s mind.

Having created a brand which speaks to both young and old, Jo Harpur Jewellery is an enterprise based on beauty, which is affordable and available to everyone, not only the elite.
To Jo, the right of every woman to feel elegant and classy is her conviction and her pricing is a reflection of this.The future for Jo Harpur Jewellery is literally written in the stars, as she reveals to me with undoubted excitement in her voice, that her next collection will reflect her fascination for the stars and I, as a fan cannot wait to see what beauty she will create.
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