Hi Jennifer, please tell everyone a bit about yourself and introduce your jewellery brand and creative retail stores.
Hi, my name is Jennifer Pearson and I am the founder and owner of ÒR in Portree on the Isle of Skye.
ÒR consists of 2 creative retail stores that stock a wide range of contemporary art and craft. We work closely with independent artists and designers to ensure authenticity and a sense of connection between artist and buyer.
We see Skye as a source of inspiration and work with different artists and makers on collaborations and projects inspiring new work. This provides work for independent creators and brings their work to the public eye, creating a varied and modern reflection of contemporary culture in Scotland.
In addition to the shops I also design and make jewellery. I have an art degree in Jewellery Design and Metalwork and after graduating I worked in antique and period jewellery and as a jewellery designer. Throughout this time I had a studio space in Edinburgh and continued to develop my own work. I had always envisaged setting up my own business and moving to Skye provided the perfect opportunity to do that.
How would you describe the style of your jewellery and where do you take inspiration from?
My Jewellery is sculptural and playful yet wearable. Many of the pieces are inspired by my surroundings on Skye, the landscape, flora and fauna but also from other more abstract ideas.
I have a fascination with antique objects and artefacts which provide an endless source of inspiration in my work. In another life I would definitely have been an archaeologist!
One of my favourite quotes is by Carl Honoré which beautifully articulates the connection I have to my work – ‘Craft brings meaning to the conversation’.
In a time of mass production, I am passionate about the importance of craft in our society.
Where do you like to create your work?
I do most of my jewellery making at my home workshop. I also have a studio space in the shop, however it can be quite hectic trying to work in there so it is good to have a space to escape to and develop work more freely. It also means I can wear my scruffy dungarees and listen to music really loudly!
I love sketching but getting in the workshop and playing with materials and prototypes is vital for development of the final piece. I have separate desk next to my jewellery work bench where I will often start bringing together ideas, I spread out materials, chain, stones and inspiring finds and visual aids.
What inspired you to open up your first retail store in Skye?
Before opening the shops I met so many people that came to Skye looking for authentic well made craft and art. I felt passionate about trying to represent and create a platform for artists and makers like myself.
We represent a modern and sustainable creative retail environment and most importantly we are passionate about connecting customers to the story and person behind the piece.
Can you tell us the reason behind the brand name ÒR?
ÒR is the Gaelic word for gold. There is a strong Gaelic culture and history on Skye and we wanted a name that reflected this. The name was inspired by my own story as a jeweller but also considers our brand values of respecting our heritage and connecting to person and place. It represents a level of quality in the art & craft we showcase, ensuring we are providing goods that add value to your life and home.
What is your criteria when you are sourcing your wonderful products that you sell in your shops?
We aim to provide a showcase for a wide range of artist and makers, with Scottish made or inspired pieces being of particular interest. When sourcing new work we would always consider a range of criteria including design, price and individuality. We always like to know a bit more about the creator, their story and inspirations and it is important to know how and where the item is made and the quality of materials used.
Do you have a current favourite brand/product to stock in your shops?
We stock such a broad selection of different artists, designers and makers that it is impossible to compare them. We showcase more recognised and establish brands such Kate Sheridan to small local makers such as Ian Williams. I love getting a new delivery through the door from all our creators, local makers like Ian will leave a box of recently made pottery for us to pick through so this is always fun and keeps things interesting.
I have a bit of a thing for Cecilia Stamp Populuxe Earrings at the moment, one of the dangers of owning a shop full of beautiful things is the temptation to keep most of it for myself!
Can you tell us a bit about the area that you live and work in?
Along with the shops I also live in Portree. Although it is the largest town on the island it is still small enough that you feel like you know everyone. With both shops located in the centre of town there is always a familiar face popping in for a chat. Portree has plenty going on, there are some top pubs, cafes and restaurants but it’s also well located so you can get out of the town and go for a walk along the coast or up into the hills.
I do sometimes forget how amazing Skye is and it’s great being able to walk to work in the morning when the sun is shining and appreciate just how beautiful a place we live.
We love that you are so involved in your community, can you let us know what projects you have been involved in and any current projects?
I am always looking at ways to support art, design and craft and support its place in our community. Art and craft can bring people together and help contribute to a healthier mental well being.
I joined the Portree and Braes Community Trust (PBCT) last year as they had a number of projects going on aiming to improve the culture and environment in Portree which I felt I could contribute to.
More recently their efforts have been concentrated on providing support for the community and especially social care staff and key workers during the Covid 19 pandemic by setting up the Skye Community Response.
I organised the Skye Makers Raffle to raise funds for the response which had an amazing selection of prizes donated from over 50 local businesses and some from further afield. We raised an incredible £17k and I was blown away by the support from everyone who entered as well as the businesses that donated prizes. At such an unprecedented and challenging time for everyone it was amazing to see people pull together.
What would you recommend doing/seeing in your area to someone visiting?
Well don’t visit until government guidance is clear that travel to the islands is allowed and it is safe to do so!
Skye has become a hugely popular destination and understandably so, the Old Man of Storr, Quiraing and Fairy Pools etc are all incredible natural wonders to see. However the huge popularity has brought pressures on local infrastructure and although work is being done to cope with the rise in visitor numbers it will take time. Rather than see it as a tick box destination I would encourage anyone wanting to come to Skye to spend more than a couple of days here and take time to relax and explore. There is so much to see and do that it will give you a much better experience of the island.
Where can we find your beautiful jewellery for sale?
My jewellery is only available from the shops in Portree but we are developing our web store which should hopefully be online soon.
Can you pick out 4 or 5 things in your working space that you can’t live without?
When making jewellery I seem to concentrate better when I am clasping a paintbrush in my mouth which I use to apply flux when soldering!
Podcasts and Music
I will usually listen to music or podcasts when working at my bench, it helps to switch my mind off from other things and focus on the task in hand.
My workshop is full of things I have collected on walks around Skye – shells, rocks, moss, twigs and pebbles to inspire me and get the creative ideas flowing.
I always have one propped up with my latest sketches to ponder and develop while I am making.
It’s an old dissection desk from Edinburgh University Veterinary department, where my dad is a lecturer. When they were getting rid of them a few years back Dad brought one home and we adapted it into a jewellery bench, cutting out an area for my peg. It is old and worn and is covered in student scribbles, I love it and couldn’t work anywhere else.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOUR WORK?