Shannon Hayes studied BA (Hons) Fashion Jewellery at London College of Fashion, graduating in 2015. In 2016 Shannon took the plunge and decided to establish her own jewellery brand, Peggy Beard, named after her beloved grandmother. Her designs are fun and expressive, combining bold and playful shapes with a love of colour and quality materials. We chatted to Shannon to find out what her inspirations are for her designs, and how she’s found starting her own business.

Why did you choose to study at LCF?
From about the age of 15/16 when I became really interested in fashion based subjects I had my heart set on studying at LCF. I’ve lived in East London my whole life & had always known LCF to be the go-to place for fashion and it seemed like such an exciting place to be and learn. Also seeing the type of work the students did was super inspiring and I really wanted to be a part of it.

What was your favourite thing about studying at LCF?
I can’t choose one! So here’s my top three:

  • Being around so many like-minded and creative people. I was lucky because my class was quite small so we all knew each other and spoke to each other as friends, including the tutors & technicians (who I am forever grateful to)! It was a really supportive environment where we could all be really creative and bounce ideas off each other. No one was really competitive with each other either (which was a very pleasant surprise!) and everyone was so willing to help, so it was a really great place to learn & grow creatively!
  • LCF pushes you to become much more confident in your work and in yourself! I was painfully shy before starting university but I left my degree being able to talk fairly confidently to people without going bright red and wanting to hide. Every week we had a session where we showed our work, spoke about it to the class and got feedback which was an excellent activity in getting comfortable with showing off your work and speaking publicly. I met new people all the time on the course and had to speak to different technicians and
  •  students on different campus’ This was a fabulous practice for me now that I run my own small business and have to contact and speak to new people so often.
  • Finally, LCF is such a great place for experimenting with new materials and styles of design. You’re always encouraged to try something new, go bigger and get out of your comfort zone! Which is something you would not be able to do so openly and freely anywhere else.

How did you develop your distinctive design style?
In my final year at LCF, I did a project based on Indian Jewellery and this is where my style really originated from, even though it’s hard to see in my work now! During this project I looked a lot at Indian Folk Art where simple, flat, bold & recognisable shapes with a big strong outline are used – this is a style I go by when I draw and design my jewellery. It’s also where my love of 24ct yellow gold came from, which is what all my work is plated in!

What is the biggest influence on your designs?
Going with what I like rather than following trends. If I wouldn’t wear it, I won’t make it. I know that sounds very self-absorbed but I think it’s really important to love what you design and make. I often doodle odd, playful little shapes on scraps of paper and I tend to work from those! My favourite shapes to work with are eyes and hands.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt running your own business?
To say yes to opportunities even when it’s a bit frightening to do so. I am a scaredy cat, even though I don’t like to admit it. When a big opportunity comes up, the immediate response in my head is full of worry and fear but I have learnt to ignore all the ‘’what if I can’t do it’’ and  ‘’what if I make myself look stupid’’ thoughts that float around my head and just say YES!

Trying to please everyone is NEVER good for any business. Of course, it’s very important to listen to advice, but I have learnt it’s just as important to stick to my guns and go with what I believe is right for my business. When you start a business, so many people will try to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. You don’t have to listen to everyone, because not everyone is your target customer.

All progress is good progress, and most progress tends to be very very slow. Starting a business is hard!! It takes so much time/effort/money, and some weeks (or months even) you can have very little to show for all of your hard work.  And I’ve learnt that’s all OK, as long as I’m moving forward then I’m going in the right direction.

What is next for you
At the moment I’m trying to find more stockists to take on my work. I would love to get my work into more independent boutiques around the UK.
I’m also working on new designs and adapting my style to trying to bring in some different materials and techniques – so look out for that next year!

All Peggy Beard designs are handmade in East London.

Have a look at Peggy Beard’s designs on Etsy, or head over to the Crafty Fox Market in Elephant and Castle on Saturday 3 November to meet her in person!

Follow Peggy Beard on Instagram

If you want advice on setting up your own business, make sure to follow the UAL Enterprising Alumni Group on Facebook 

UAL’s annual Creative Enterprise week is coming up, with more than 30 events to help you turn your creative ideas into reality