Industry Insight – Alice Walsh
Written by Ella Joyce
Alice Walsh spotted a perfectly sized gap in the market when shopping for her then-fiancee’s wedding cufflinks, realising a novelty tennis racket or pint of beer wasn’t going to cut it for the big day. Fast forward a decade, and her brand Alice Made This has been crafting artfully minimalist jewellery ever since.
With her rich background in product design, Alice found the perfect collaborator in her husband Ed, whose business-orientated skill set was the ideal ying to Alice’s creative yang. In her own words, the brand’s aesthetic focuses on “pairing the precision of engineering and the beauty of craftsmanship”. At its core, it showcases the brilliance of British manufacturing.
The brand is aware of the limited capabilities of planting its feet firmly on home soil. “We never want to sacrifice on quality,” Alice tells us. All raw parts and base products are made in the UK because that’s a core value of ours. All precious metal plating is done in Spain when we don’t have the capabilities.
When the world went quiet, everyone began holding a magnifying glass up to the world on their doorstep. Some realised there was a way they could try to keep their corner of the world turning – Alice was one of them. “When COVID came about, we were more compelled than ever to work with our community, starting through some collections working with very local craftsmen,” says Walsh.
She quickly turned her attention to the young visionaries from minority groups living in her local area. “I’ve always had a passion for working with young creatives,” Walsh tells us. “When I was 16 or 17, my creative industry understanding was very narrow. I thought you could do architecture or fashion design. It wasn’t until I got to art college and working in the industry that I learned about all these amazing roles that you don’t see until you’re in it.”
“If someone can start building their network in that space at 16 or 17, then by the time they’re 24, imagine how much that’s expanded and opened doors”
Running your own business doesn’t come without a leap into the unknown, Alice confirms: “It’s tough to decipher what day-to-day looks like, but that’s exactly why I like it.” She continues, “I was very competent in design and production but in terms of P&Ls [profit and loss statements], Excel spreadsheets, accounting and strategic business… So it was a very steep learning curve. But I was learning on the job, and that’s the best way to learn, right?” It certainly was; throwing herself into the deep end proved she could do more than just keep afloat as her designs became fixtures in the likes of Liberty London and Selfridges.
Alice’s continual loyalty to shining a light on homegrown talent runs deeper than just her manufacturing values. With roots firmly grounded in South East London, 2020 saw the inaugural launch of the AMT Youth Programme.
The AMT Youth Programme supports budding creatives between 16 to 18 years old, prioritising applicants from African and Caribbean backgrounds. With the help of over 35 partners, the programme grants access to the creative world through work experience and grant schemes.
Reflecting on her time spent breaking into the industry, Walsh considers programmes like AMT necessary in breaking down the elusive air that creative industries sometimes carry. “If someone can start building their network in that space at 16 or 17, then by the time they’re 24, imagine how much that’s expanded and opened doors,” Walsh admits. “I just feel like it’s nice to get an insight into that early phase.”
When asking Alice about what’s next on AMT Youth Programme’s agenda, her reply was simple”: “For that project to keep growing, to get to a stage where we can open it up to a larger geographical area, or open up to a larger minority group. To constantly keep up the momentum.”