Holly Fowler, Lennie Jones and Ming Dawe are Entrepreneurship students at Falmouth University in Cornwall, UK. Using glass they collect from beaches on the south coast, the trio create handcrafted necklaces, earrings and custom pieces that have proven popular with customers from as far away as the United States. With the support of the University, their new venture Zennor Glass has already received international orders.
Keen surfer Holly Fowler says their mutual love of the seaside led to the idea, and with the ocean and beach cleanliness a hot topic globally they’re combining commercial acumen with a deep-rooted desire to improve the environment for generations to come. ‘All three of us had always collected pieces of glass from Cornwall’s beaches, having grown up in the area, and thought this would make a unique venture,’ she explains.
Designed by the sea
The students decided to turn the glass into something they and others could wear we and other people could wear, doing very little to change the shape as they wanted to keep the process as natural as possible. Holly: ‘That’s something the customers prefer, as the glass is designed by the sea and finished by us; it’s been on a journey, often for more than a century, so there is a story behind it.’
The students polish up and smooth out the glass so there are no hard edges, before encasing it in silver. After taking several jewellery-making courses and selling the product at University events and gift shops, they branded the company and began trading online.
‘People seem to love what we’re producing, which is so heartening because when we started it was very nerve-wracking’, comments Lennie Jones. ‘You put yourself out there and hope people will buy it, and they have been – the response has been fantastic.’
100 years old glass
A lot of the glass the students collect can date to the early 1900s, according to Ming Dawe, because back then it would just be thrown away, and it can arrive on our beaches from anywhere in the world. ‘There are the obvious bottle colours of green, clear and brown that we see a lot, but now and again we will find pink, yellow and other colours, patterns and shapes that make the jewellery even more stunning.’
The students receive a lot of requests to customise pieces and they are looking looking at different recyclable materials and product lines. ‘More importantly, we plan even more beach clean-ups and community events, to spread awareness about how important it is to save our seas and protect the coastline for the future,’ says Ming
Professor Chris Jones, director of Falmouth Business School praises the trio for their ‘inspirational’ decision to start up their own firm and brand – Zennor Glass – while at the same time support their community and, ultimately, the planet.