The Indie Series – Salt & Co.

Martha Gothorp discusses running a small business in the North East, short and long-term plans for Northumberland-based Salt & Co., and her advice for anyone looking to take the jump with a business idea

Tell us about Salt & Co.

Salt & Co. is a small business based in Northumberland that specialises in sterling silver jewellery. I work from my studio at The Old Bath House in Broomhill where I handcraft affordable, keepsake jewellery which is stocked by a few small retailers and available to purchase directly through my website. My jewellery is inspired by Northumberland’s stunning coastline, which I am lucky enough to call home. Its just me here, I do everything from making jewellery, to marketing, to customer service and website design. It’s been the most exciting, enlightening and challenging journey, and I’m still learning and loving every minute of it. I’m just entering my third year of being in business and have had an amazing start to 2019 with lots of exciting things ahead.

What is the most rewarding aspect of running an independent business in the region?

The people! In this last year, my business seems to have grown locally, every order is exciting, but there’s something really special when a local postcode order comes through. For me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing somebody in the local coffee shop wearing jewellery I’ve made! I never imagined seeing a stranger wearing jewellery I’ve made, nor did I imagine getting orders to be shipped all over the world. I started my website wondering if anyone would ever want to wear my creations other than my Mum! So this has just been the most overwhelming and special experience.

And the most challenging?

I probably find the most challenging aspect of it all is switching off. Northumberland is a lovely area with that ‘everyone knows everyone’ kind of vibe, which I love… But when you run a business it means you’re constantly representing the brand you have built. Constantly getting questions and requests wherever you go, which is wonderful but it does mean it’s very hard to stop and have some ‘me’ time. Every business has its challenges, for me it’s when mistakes are made. I have a habit of striving for perfection, and I really beat myself up when I don’t get it right, especially when customers are involved. This is also a quality though, because it means that when I do get it right, it was above and beyond a customers expectation and I’m always striving to improve.

What are the short and long-term plans for the business?

Short term, I hope to release a new collection before the summer! I have some designs I’ve been working that I’m really excited by. I’d like to expand my ‘luxury’ range and expand my customer base. I’ve also recently moved into new studio space so I’d like to get myself set up there and buy some new equipment now I have a bit more space to work from.
Long-term, I’d like to open a little gift shop / gallery that can showcase and support local artists as well as my own work.

What advice would you give to anyone with a business idea?

GO FOR IT! The greatest thing you can do is ‘do what you love’. If you do what you love, you’ll do it well.  On a more practical front, always expect it to cost more money than you originally planned. You will encounter unexpected problems and costs along the way, don’t let it dishearten you, take the learning (there will be a lot of it!) and move forward. Also don’t underestimate the people you meet along the way- networking is SO important, starting a business can be a lonely and overwhelming experience, so accept help, talk to people about what you’re trying to do! Chances are, they or someone they know will be willing to help you.

What do you like most about living and working in the North East?

The inspiration that comes from living with such beautiful surroundings, I love being right on the coast and having Alnmouth beach on my doorstep. Most of my designs were thought up on the beach in the wind, whilst walking my dog. My pockets are always full of seaglass, shells and pebbles with interesting textures that I take back to my home studio to draw inspiration from in my design process. The second best thing would have to be the people. I’m lucky enough to have met some wonderful, inspiring friends and local business owners who are an invaluable support network. It’s really hard working day in and day out by myself, so finding other small business owners to talk to and share this journey with has really been my saving grace.

Salt & Co.
Studio 6C, The Old Bath House Studios, Broomhill, Morpeth NE65 9UJ
Facebook – @saltnco
Instagram – @saltandco

Photography – Rosie Davison