Dragonfly Takes Flight
Have jewelry, will travel. Have travel, will make beautiful jewelry.
This simple yet somewhat profound mantra sums it up for the life of Allyson Johnston, the owner and skilled jewellery maker of bespoke jewellery label, Silver Dragonfly Jewellery in Kuala Lumpur.
Every piece is adorned with her personal touch, making every shape, texture and style unique and one-of-a-kind. Her love for making jewelry stems from her passion of creativity and her talent for making things. I met Allyson in 2006. Our toddlers went to nursery school together in Beijing. Over the years I have seen her business grow and am even so lucky as to own a few of her earlier pieces. She has now come to be a local favourite, sourced by loyal and new customers who want a piece of jewellery that not only makes a statement, but tells their story.
Here, Allyson tells us more about the life and times of seeing her hobby become a business, aptly named Silver Dragonfly and taking it off to flight.
“I have a background in textile design. After finishing a degree at Leeds university I followed a career in knitwear design in the UK. I have always made things. As a child I made soft toys and entered art competitions. Many evenings were spent at night school learning ceramics and metalsmithing.
When the opportunity for my husband to work in Malaysia came up, I was happy to move with him as we both love traveling and that’s where my business started. During the years, we also stayed in Beijing and I was also inspired by the culture and other jewellery makers. I took some classes while teaching myself the basic skills. Then it was the adventure of discovering new materials and stones in all the amazing markets around the city,” recounts Allyson who has recently acquired the complex skills of silversmithing.
This is a very useful skill she has added to her repertoire as competition means she has to constantly evolve and stay up to date with customer demands.
“While competition is healthy, I have to make sure I provide customer satisfaction, improve my branding and my packaging. I offer a bespoke handmade item that is not in the same market as big commercial brands. I have learnt to identify my customers and work hard to keep these customers. Also, I have to keep up with the product offerings of markets in Asia and look at what others are doing on social media.”
All this is intertwined in the process of designing the jewellery. Allyson starts with inspiration from magazines, Pinterest or the colours, patterns and texture from what she sees around her.
“My brain has been trained to constantly look out for these things over the years while working in textiles. Looking at colour combinations, trends and patterns, I translate all this into my designs. I enjoy playing with different stones and beads as well as considering the needs of my customers.
Then I pen these ideas down on paper and plan the ranges, how many to make, keeping in mind which styles have sold better than others. I Look at material costs and reorder and source component supplies if required - then make them”.
At the moment Allyson has also been busy on new enamelled silver earrings which have been selling well. One point of Silver Dragonfly Jewellery’s product differentiation is that there are different price points for customers to take items home as gifts.
“My Karen Hilltribe silver and semi-precious stone earrings are quite popular along with bracelets,” says Allyson.