Vanessa Murtagh from Eadestown
An unforeseen global pandemic may not be the best time to embark on a new business venture, but that hasn’t daunted Vanessa Murtagh from Eadestown.
After years of commuting to Dublin by car and then bicycle, in 2019 the busy mum of two decided to change tack.
“Both my husband and I were commuting to full time full on jobs and leaving the kids in creche from 7.30am to 6.30pm. It was no life and it wasn’t fair on our kids,” she explains.
So the couple decided Vanessa should leave her job and she immediately threw herself into a passion she’s been developing for ten years — creating unique bespoke jewellery.
With nearly twenty years in creative advertising and nine years training with both NCAD and the Irish School of Jewellery, she outlines how she brings an appreciation of conceptual creativity through the medium of gold and silver jewellery to create “wearable art” for her clients.
Just as Vanessa Ree Jewellery was taking off earlier this year, the Covid-19 virus took hold.
She says that she didn’t feel it was appropriate to push her work during this time. Instead she focused on two successful funding applications to Kildare Local Enterprise Office (LEO) that allowed her to develop her e-commerce platform and build up her studio.
The talented designer also created two new collections — Coming Together and Follow Your Own Path — which were borne out of “the feelings of empathy and understanding and the need to determine our own destiny when everything seemed as if it were controlled by others during lockdown”.
The Stag's Head brooch
During this time, Vanessa was also trying to homeschool her children and keep the family spirits up during lockdown.
Based on the outskirts of Naas, Vanessa stresses she is very much influenced by her environment as is evident in her Irish Animals Collection.
She tells the story of what inspired The Stag’s Head Brooch.
“I was driving home late from work one night, taking the back roads and as I turned a bend the headlights lit up a stag with his head poking out through the hedge right in front of me. I got the fright of my life. But he was magnificent.”
Vanessa is also the daughter-in-law of Louis Hennessy, or Lucky Louis as he is known locally, owner of Malones Newsagents in Kildare Town.
“We were delighted when Vanessa decided to set up her own business. We could see straight away the relief to my son, Barry and the boys, Emile (9) and Claude (7) when she quit Dublin. And we know she’s doing what she loves,” said Louis.
“She’s always been very creative and full of character. And my wife, Terry, is always getting great complements on Vanessa’s Stag’s Head brooch.”
Vanessa’s uniquely conceptual approach is matched with a very contemporary style.
She emphasises her pieces are created with thoughtful and relatable insights as “they bring more meaning to the wearer and give them a story to tell”.
Vanessa passionately explains her jewellery philosophy: “Style has always provided a way of speaking without words, and jewellery is the epitome of this. In my designs I try to capture the essence of what people are looking to express about themselves, to feel empowered.
“My collections are eye-catching, fun and designed to bring out the confidence in every wearer.”
The artist believes her work is very relevant given the current climate, as she looks at and celebrates the everyday, which is evident in the very contemporary Irish animals from her first collection, which feature also Horse’s Head and Cow’s Head pendants.
She believes her customers should feel that they have a really special, unique and precious piece of jewellery.
All her work is handcrafted from her Kildare studio, her designs are exclusive and her pieces are hallmarked by the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin to guarantee the precious metal.
She sells directly to the customer which means she can create more bespoke, statement pieces, with more precious metal, thereby offering greater value to the customer.
She also ships overseas, usually to Australia and the US, which have always had a connection to Ireland and are looking for a different representation of that.
Vanessa Ree silver earrings from the Coming Together collection
Although launching her jewellery business in the heat of the pandemic, Vanessa believes there is an opportunity now to attract the increasing number of gifters looking for specialised, conceptual and contemporary presents.
“My clients and those they are gifting to might not be going out as much these days but they are still looking for something to help the wearer feel more like themselves in this uncertain and video-conference exhausting time. And that’s really important, especially at the moment.”
Follow Vanessa and her exciting and fresh approach to jewellery design online at
www.vanessaree.com,on Instagram & Facebook @vanessaree_concept_jewellery
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