Testing her mettle – Jayne Gunn launches Pretty Little Doll jewellery after husband falls ill
DESPITE spending £20,000 on failed IVF treatments Jayne Gunn gave up her full-time job and launched Pretty Little Doll jewellery at home so she could care for her husband suffering from Cystic Fibrosis – and has never been happier.
Just 18 months since taking the plunge, she is trading at fairs across the region and her collectable range of silver beaded bracelets is sold at stockists across the North and posted to customers in far-flung locations from America to Australia.
“I am so passionate about what I do, I like to keep my customers happy and I love seeing them wearing my jewellery.”
While some entrepreneurs have lifelong dreams of setting up their own businesses, Jayne’s motivation for giving up the security of a monthly paycheck was a conscious lifestyle change – she needed to be with her husband more than she needed the 9 to 5.
Together since they were 18, Andrew is one of five, his older brother has Cystic Fibrosis and when his younger sister died from the genetic disorder at the age of just 21. Following her tragic death, Jayne urged Andrew to get tested too and soon the phone call they’d been dreading confirmed their fears – he was diagnosed at 26.
As well as affecting the lungs and other vital organs the couple from Eston was told that Cystic Fibrosis also reduces fertility in men and after marrying in 2007 they had one free round of fertility treatment.
Jayne became pregnant during their second cycle of IVF but miscarried at nine weeks, in total they’ve gone through four attempts racking up a bill of £20,000 as well as the mental and physical expense.
It was while they were taking a much-needed break from trying to conceive that Andrew fell dangerously ill after catching a bug called cepacia which reduced his lung capacity to a mere 19 per cent and forced him to give up his job as an asbestos remover.
Home alone in bed all day, weak and feeling low, Jayne cut her hours at Redcar & Cleveland Council where she worked in a finance department to care for him properly.
“But now I have exactly the balance I want I’m so happy. I’m able to put 110 per cent into the business but I’m also able to look after Andrew and our three Blue Staffordshire Bull Terriers Lola, Bella and Bronson – they are our babies.”
To make some extra cash to support their reduced wage she ordered some beads after remembering how much she’d enjoyed a bracelet-making kit she’d been given by mum years previously.
Her designs were instantly popular with family and friends and soon she’d had set up Facebook and Instagram pages and had come up with a name for her brand, Pretty Little Doll Jewellery. A website and boutiques eager to sell her delicate handmade creations in Yarm, Thornaby, Middlesbrough, Guisborough, Stokesley, Leeds and Liverpool quickly followed.
Pretty Little Doll jewellery by Jayne Gunn
In October 2014 she handed her notice in at work and her own business flourished through word of mouth – now be found at a craft fairs across the North-East most weekends and has taken on her first member of staff to help replenish her sell-out stock.
As her business improved Andrew’s health has too and new medication has given him a new lease of life, said Jayne who has earned a quality mark from the British Jewellers’ Association.
“I am so passionate about what I do, I like to keep my customers happy and I love seeing them wearing my jewellery.
“My most popular styles are the stacks of bracelets, I’ve changed the beads from acrylic to silver-plated but kept them affordable at £6 each or three for £15. One customer loves them so much she wears 26 of my bracelets across both arms,” explained the 35-year-old who also makes anklets, rings and necklaces as well as bespoke pieces.
Despite her success, the stress over the past few years has taken its toll on Jayne who has had shingles 13 times. “But now I have exactly the balance I want I’m so happy. I’m able to put 110 per cent into the business but I’m also able to look after Andrew and our three Blue Staffordshire Bull Terriers Lola, Bella and Bronson – they are our babies,” she added.
“Even though Andrew is poorly we still have a good life. We have a lovely home and we have each other – that’s really all that matters.”
Pretty Little Doll jewellery website