Shop small: Rhubarb and Custard


Photo by Kirstin McEwan Photography

As we enter Tier 4 in Glasgow, it's going to be considerably harder to shop for Christmas with non-essential shops closing. Finding gifts for our loved ones might be more difficult but there are always smaller online shops to support. Today I'm talking to Jenn Tapner, the owner, and curator of Rhubarb and Custard jewellery.

Why is it so important to shop local in today's climate?

I think people are beginning to recognise how important their custom is to small businesses during this difficult year, they are helping them survive. It's important for the wealth within the community but also I do think it's just nicer and more personal to shop small! I've bought all my Christmas pressies this year from Etsy. Especially as a small business owner, I know that exciting feeling you get when you receive an Etsy notification, larger retailers just don't understand that feeling. By shopping locally, you're not only helping them to survive during a difficult time but you're supporting their passion and buying into their dream, which is priceless in itself.

Tell me about your style - you seem to have a minimalist approach to your designs, is it that intentional? 

To be honest I try to experiment as much as I can with styles, shapes and colours. It depends from day-to-day. It depends on my mood, the weather, even down to the music I'm listening to - this is mainly what influenced the music album cover idea, I'm always listening to music.

Are you making jewellery that you would wear yourself or what you think other people would like? 

Mostly from my own taste, to be honest, or ideas that friends have recommended.

Where does inspiration for your jewellery come from? I saw that you draw inspiration from album covers - but what else inspires you?

I loved drawing inspiration from the album covers - it felt personal to me because I would be listening to the particular album while creating the pieces. Music is a huge, huge part of my life and to have this reflected in some way through my work felt special. Aside from that, I look at photographs, flowers, or my general surrounding to find inspiration for the colour combinations I use. However, sometimes I just grab some colours I think would work and experiment.

You offer custom earrings - how important do you think it is to offer that service and what experiences have you had with making the custom earrings? 

I think this is a hugely important service; there's nothing more annoying that when you, as a consumer, have a very specific idea in mind and cannot find what you're looking for - no matter how much scrolling on Pinterest you do. I've had the most weird and wonderful requests from customers about their custom orders - from detailed whale earrings to intricate marbled style earrings. I had a custom order for earrings for someone's hen party, which is pretty incredible.

What's the general feedback from your customers? 

I'm actually so fortunate, I'm yet to receive any negative feedback (touch wood). Everyone has been so supportive and positive, which is very encouraging. I've had people order earrings from the smallest little towns in the very south of England which is so incredible to me.

Are you looking to expand? I know you've had your work at Dumfries Market. 

I'm quite happy with how things are currently, but I'm always thinking of new paths to go down and new opportunities. I know everything is a little more difficult this year. I would have loved to have taken part in some Christmas markets in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but hopefully next Christmas. And the amazing thing about social media is that there are an abundance of virtual markets this year! I've loved taking part in the Dumfries Market twice this year and I'm fortunate to be involved in the Guild's Pop Up Shop this year - my work will be exhibited from 28th Nov - 12th Dec alongside some other incredibly talented markers from Dumfries and Galloway, and further. The Dumfries Guild do wonderful work in the town and have created a little community of crafters and creators from all walks of life, which is so important right now.

Talk to me more about life outside R&C - you've said that you do marketing and were working in the music industry. Are you itching to get back to post-COVID life?

Outside Rhubarb 'n' Custard, I am a freelance marketer - I work with a few different small companies doing their social media management, website design/upkeep, visual communication and design, and much more. Like many others, I was devastated to lose my job due to the virus this year - inevitable as I was the marketing exec. at a music events company. I loved my job so much but in the grand scheme of things, I'm one of the fortunate ones. I'm very happy with how my life is at the moment. I recently read back my diary from January and my two goals were to spend more time with my family and begin making jewellery again... little did I know how much time I'd have for these things. But yeah, I'm very grateful. I've somehow still managed to gain more than I've lost this year. Although, I do miss live music like crazy. I hope post-COVID life will still include Rhubarb 'n' Custard for me because it's been a lifeline for me to keep busy and creative through a really strange time.

These are my favourites of the collection. HEARTS EYES. 

To shop - go to Rhubarb and Custard on Etsy

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