Can you tell us about your career background and how you came to found your contemporary fine jewellery label, Tessa Packard London?
I’ve always had a pipe dream to be an accessories designer. When I was much younger I spent hours designing bags, shoes and jewellery. After I left school the idea was always at the back of my mind to follow this dream, but I think sometimes in life you can get side tracked or influenced by what are perceived to be more sensible job options – opportunities with less risk and more security than starting your own fine jewellery house – so instead I did a degree in History of Art (another great passion of mine) with a view to working in the commercial art world.
Although I loved my four years in the art world, I began to really miss drawing and designing towards the end of my time in the gallery. This creative frustration did spur me into thinking about my career, my future and what I really wanted to do. The idea of setting up my own design house just naturally came back into my head and just never left. A year later Tessa Packard London was launched and the rest is history as they say!
You’re an entrepreneur – what 3 tips would you offer to others considering setting up their own business?
1. Successful entrepreneurship is dependent on the balance of two things: the blind confidence of the entrepreneur and the humility of his reasoning. An entrepreneur must believe that the present order of things can be executed with greater imagination and success than currently done, otherwise there is no point trying to break the mould. On the other hand, he must have the realism to appreciate that sometimes achieving greatness means changing course or adapting to circumstance along the way. Sticking to a business plan is not always right.
2. A brand’s reputation is only as good as its least satisfied client. How you deal with dissatisfactions, delays, miscommunications and politics is integral to a business.
3. Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today. And never be late to a meeting!
How important is building your networks to growing a business?
I would say that networking – both the desire to network and the ability to network – is key to growing any business. I would also argue that keeping up with old contacts, even if they are not relevant to you at the present time, is instrumental. I never fail to be amazed how important these old acquaintance can become to your business many years on. Future opportunities are always staring you in the face and it pays to make the most of it.
Tessa wears The Belleville Top in navy. Jewellery by Tessa Packard.
You act as a business mentor for several youth and education-focussed charities. Can you tell us more about your philanthropic work?
I was brought up in quite a philanthropically-focussed family, so the idea of charity work was one that was ingrained in me from a young age. I do believe that education is everything – as is the support and opportunities that come from mentoring. I’m currently involved full time with two education focussed charities. The first is the Rank Fellowship that awards bursary schemes to exceptional but often underprivileged students. It also has a brilliant mentoring network and a career events calendar. The second is the Young Marlburian Foundation – a charity I set up with my sister in collaboration with Marlborough College. Here the focus is very much on encouraging young Marlburians to contribute towards their own school’s bursary schemes. Young people supporting young people.
Your jewellery collections have a wonderfully playful and imaginative feel, which is quite unusual for fine jewellery. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
My greatest source of inspiration is culture – ancient civilisations, artistic movements, social mores and popular culture. Being a British designer, I do find my collections are often inspired by British idiosyncrasies, such as traditional penny sweets or the British obsession with the weather. For me, narrative integrity is everything. Without a story, a collection of jewellery is just a lifeless group of similar looking pieces. I like the drama and fun of creating collections inspired by the whimsical and the exotic.
What should we be looking for when shopping for fine jewellery – are there any under-the-radar gemstones you think we should be wearing more?
I’m a particular fan of black sapphires and mother-of-pearl jewellery. Being neutral and monochrome in colour, they pair beautifully with all outfits and are also very versatile stones – easily used to dress down or glam up as the occasion calls for. Furthermore, they are relatively inexpensive, making them the perfect as everyday luxe jewels.
With a busy career, how do you like to unwind outside of work?
Escaping to the countryside and going for long walks with my dog, followed by G&Ts in front of America’s Next Top Model, rates quite highly on my list of happy, non-work things to do . If I was being completely honest, I would have to admit that there are very few places on this planet that I am able to unwind completely. Home in Scotland is one – no mobile phone reception and no reliable WIFI. It’s complete bliss.
Tell us about your 9-5 wardrobe – what are you go-to outfits?
I have a pretty monochrome work wardrobe, based around grey, white, black, navy and taupe. It helps keep dressing times in the morning to a minimum. I’m a huge fan of tailored trousers – both slim leg and flared. I also love leather trousers, pussy bow blouses and generously proportioned polo necks. Its sort of uptown girl meets rock chic. I don’t wear high heels very often during the day – I walk everywhere and I find a flat chelsea boot more convenient. Having said that, my wardrobe is always tailor made according to my day’s activities. If I’m painting and drawing designs, I’ll be in jeans and trainers. Here comfort is key. If I have a meeting with a corporate client, then its straight to the trouser suits, high heels and silk shirts.
And finally which is your favourite piece in The Fold’s Spring collection and why?
I adore the navy Belleville top and matching trousers – super easy to wear and very versatile. I’m also coveting the Columbia culottes and Rosedale coat. They feel both contemporary yet timeless and that’s what I look for in my clothes.