Meet Sakara McShane, a young jewellery/accessories designer. After finishing university with a degree in Design, Sakara decided the fast-fashion world was not for her and decided to set up her own business – Sunshine Living. Sunshine Living specialises in creating unique handmade jewellery using polymer clays, resin, metal and pearls. The brand’s aim is to produce high quality and sustainable products that are ethically made, and defy the fast fashion industry. Hence the name, the pieces at Sunshine Living help bring a little sunshine into the small things you wear. I got a chance to catch up with Sakara and find out more about her the inspiration behind the brand and exciting upcoming projects.
So Sakara, what inspired you to produce your own jewellery line, and what were you doing beforehand?
I actually set up Sunshine Living as a part-time hobby to help me with some extra money when I came back from travelling, something to bide my time whilst I tried to get a job in the fashion industry which is what I completed my degree in. I’m not entirely sure why I chose jewellery, I think it was because it was something I hadn’t done before and a bit of a change to making clothes. Also the job in the fashion industry never really happened, and the rejections from companies before they met me would get me SO down, I just decided you know what, I’m really enjoying making and selling jewellery and it seems to be doing alright, I’m just going to give it a go and make it my main job. I’m so glad that I did.
Your pieces are beautiful – what is your design process like from brainstorming to the final product?
Thank you! To be honest I don’t usually have a plan or design in my head when I start, only the colour palette I want, to use especially with the clay items. I end up just playing around and making different shapes and putting things together and then something works. Sometimes I can spend days trying to make something and hate it all, and then all of a sudden when I’m not really thinking about it one will just ‘happen’ and I’ll absolutely love it.
What would you say are your key influences in the style and appearance of your jewellery designs?
At the moment with all the new pieces I’ve been making, I’ve been trying to keep them in a warm colour palette, and then use these colours to help influence my design outcomes. So I’ll buy the clay and resin dye colours to match a rough colour palette I have in my head and then go from there really. I love taking basic shapes like squares, circles and semi-circles and seeing how I can make them different and unique through the clay patterns.
Do you have a specific target customer you are aiming your products for?
The products I’m producing at the moment are definitely aimed at a more mature/ older audience then I’ve had in the past. The colours and prices, and the fact they’re handmade help me aim it towards women aged 25 and upwards. Women who care about the environment, and see the importance of shopping small, and not buying from fast fashion companies. Women who want something different that no everyone around them is going to be wearing too.
Ethical and eco-friendly fashion is a growing trend and necessity in the industry, how do you try to maintain an element of sustainability in your work?
Sustainability is a running theme throughout the brand, and when I first started the brand admittedly it wasn’t the main driving force behind it as it was supposed to just be a short little hobby. However, I specialised in sustainable fashion when I was at university, and it is something which I really feel the need to carry on. At the moment I’m actually working on a 100% organic, handmade loungewear collection. I know where the fabrics were grown, dyed and woven and wouldn’t buy the fabric, no matter how much I loved it if I wasn’t 100% sure it was organic and could be proven. I want to be transparent. All the packaging used is recyclable, and as the loungewear grows I would like to shrink the jewellery and have a smaller more thoughtful collection which is better for the environment. Even though they are plastic, they are not single-use and are made to order which means there is never any waste is thrown away or spare stock to get rid of.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of running your own business?
The most challenging is definitely the pressure you put yourself under, and the fact that if I’m struggling there isn’t always someone that can show me how to do something you just have to figure it all out yourself. At the moment it is just me running the business so can also get quite lonely too, especially as I am a huge people person and love being surrounded by others. The rewarding parts of the business completely outweigh the challenges and negative aspects, for example, the photoshoots and actually seeing your products on models is SO exciting and makes everything suddenly seem ‘real’ if that makes sense? Also, I get excited every time someone buys something no matter how small, I love it! Positive reviews and returning customers is also the best, makes you feel like you must be doing something right.
What are your plans and goals for Sunshine Living in the future?
Future plans is clothing!! It’s already underway and the initial first part of the loungewear collection will be out Nov/Dec this year. It’s going to be 100% organic, handmade to order, and as sustainable and ethical as I can possibly make it on my own. Fashion is known for being bad for the planet but it’s not going anywhere, so I think everything should take responsibility in making their part of it as sustainable as they can.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of starting up their own business?
The advice I would give… Erm, don’t give up! Wow, the amount of times I’ve had a bad day a strop and wanted to give up, and then the next day everything has fallen into place is almost a joke haha! Also, be prepared if it’s a product-based business that not every month will bring in the same/ similar amount, a lot falls into whether or not people will be buying, i.e. weather, holidays, events etc. So be prepared for low months alongside high ones. Take your time and don’t rush it, set yourself optimistic yet achievable goals, and it will all work out.
We think Sakara McShane is an inspiration for anyone looking to start their own business after university and we can’t wait for Sunshine Living’s organic loungewear collection to drop!
Interviewed by Chloe Humphries
Images: Sakara McShane, Vicenzo Gatto