Meet Little by Little: The Jewellery Brand Helping Combat Hunger

Three years ago, best friends Annabelle and Georgina set up a jewellery line with the sole intention of giving back. Despite living in different cities with busy careers and a growing family, the pair regularly met in Gatwick Airport’s departure lounge for too much coffee and free wifi to plan the beginnings of their jewellery brand Little by Little.

Combining their knowledge of the food and jewellery industries – Georgina a Leith’s trained chef and author of multiple cookbooks and Annabelle an ethical jewellery designer working for sustainable pioneers, Cred – they set about crafting a brand which reflected their core principals: an ethical way to provide food for those without.

Now, three years later and after multiple sourcing trips to Peru, the pair have three gorgeous collections taking inspiration from the simplest beauty in food and have partnered with Action Against Hunger to make sure for every piece they sell, they donate the funding to pay for a day’s supply of therapeutic food to nurse an acutely malnourished child back to health.

We spoke to Georgina to find out more about the story behind the brand.

Tell me a little about both of your backgrounds? 
“I met Annabelle when we were at the University of Leeds. We were living together and doing our thing; I was training as a chef and she was making her way in the jewellery world, both starting our careers.”

So how did Little by Little happen? 
“I suppose to begin with we have a strong friendship, despite life tearing us apart with me moving to Brighton whilst Annabelle stayed in London. When we used to hang out together, we started to talk about how amazing it would be to collaborate in some way and to be totally honest, the crux, the total beginning of the conversation was when we were taking a walk around Brighton, and there were a lot of people on the street who were looking like they were really in need. We really wanted to be able to buy them breakfast. We wanted to find a way to give someone who doesn’t have enough money a way to buy food. So, we started talking about how we could do that. How we could generate something with the cash to help them buy food.

“The first idea for the company was that we’d call it something to do with breakfast and in some way we’d harness this energy and try to turn it into cash. Then we thought well let’s try mix things with food and jewellery, selling the jewellery and then giving a percentage of that jewellery to a food charity so they could provide food to people. The more we looked into it the more we realised that, that was more difficult than it sounded, obviously, it always is!”

But obviously you’d partnered with Action Against Hunger, how did you come to them?
“We’d read a lot about them and liked what they did. They were really focused on nutrition in children and it was about the same time where there was a lot in the news about children arriving at school not having eaten anything. That focus really fitted in with our vision and our hope. So we got it touch with them, had a few meetings and tried to establish how we could help them and how much funding and cash they would need to do something useful. They came to us and suggested we might donate money to buy these things called plumpy’nut bars, which are these really nutritionally dense, energy bars that are given to malnourished children. So the more we heard about them the more we realised there was something quite tangible about one necklace to equate to x number of plumpy bars and the story has evolved from there.”

Is collaboration important to you? 
“Yeah I love that. For me, I feel like in business it’s so important to work with people you know, to draw on people’s strengths. We’re alway up for collaborating with people. For the moment Against Against Hunger is really the people we work alongside but there are plans to work alongside a few people in the future and help us get our name out and I suppose one thing compliments another.”

What are the highlights and challenges?
“Challenges are mainly geographical ones really as we don’t live in the same city. Cash flow, I mean when we started we didn’t have any cash flow so as the name suggests, we’ve kind of done everything little by little. We had our first sale about two years ago now, using little brown pieces of paper all folded up, and we said if that goes well we’ll buy boxes for them, and so on. So with every piece that we’ve sold we’ve put that back into the business. We’re getting there.”

What’s the motivation to keep things ethical?
“Well we’re both Christians so I think that’s a massive motivation for us and I think that is a massive part of us that we feel proud of. From an ethical perspective we want to do our best to ‘do good’ as it were, so we’ve worked really hard and continue to work really hard. I mean, in something like jewellery, there’s so many areas where you have to keep working and keep sourcing better, making sure the workers in the factory we’re using are being looked after etc. That’s something we’re committed to keep doing and Annabelle’s amazing at doing it and has worked in ethical jewellery for so long that she knows what to do.”

little by little jewellery

Where do you find your motivation?
“I think the massive motivation is to help someone else and to raise some cash for someone else. The other thing is I love business. I’ve always thought of myself as having something, owning a business and so for me this is the beginning of that dream. Also Annabelle loves jewellery, I love jewellery and so yeah, it hits lots of different spots.”

What are the things you khoollect?
“Crockery, I’m terrible I have it all over my house. Props for photoshoots I have everywhere – backgrounds, big pots, tiny pots. I also love dolls houses.”

Where do you call home?
“At the moment I live in Brighton so that’s where I’d call home I suppose.”

Best place for coffee?
“The coffee is Brighton is NUTS good, there’s a new place that’s opened called Red Roaster and there’s a place called Twin Pines, both of these are just beautiful.”

Best place for a bargain?
“For me Ardingly Antiques market which is the biggest antiques fairy in Europe so I can get all of my pots.”

Best outdoor space?
“The sea. We go to the sea a lot after I pick the kids up from school actually, to just hang out and I’m trying to learn how to paddle board.”

Best places for eating out?
“Eating out is amazing in Brighton, it’s as much about the Michelin starred food as it is about the falafel you can get on the street, it’s getting better and better. To eat, there’s a cafe called Marmalade, and obviously it’s the home of Bill’s Brighton. Slightly smarter is a place called The Salt Room and 64 degrees is amazing, stunning food.”

Where about to relax in the city
“We quite often go up to a place called Devils dyke which is about a mile outside Brighton which overlooks the city where you can get a picnic and then obviously the sea.”

What’s one piece of advice you’d tell others wanting to set up their own business?
“So one of my favourite pieces of advice and I repeat it all the time is ‘if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly’. I can’t remember who said that but we’ve definitely stuck by that. So if we’ve needed to start an Instagram account or do a sale or create some branding or something, I would say it’s far better to have a shot at it, to try it and then from that platform you do on to refine, and refine, and refine. For us, that piece of advice has been very useful because I think it’s made us not feel too terrified of mistakes and willing to have a shot at it, take the plunge.”

What is a life lesson that you’d tel your younger self?
“Oh jeez, there’s so much wrapped up in that is’t there. I would say trust your instinct and be brave.”

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Maria Bell

Maria Bell is a photographer and editor from the Isle of Wight. Talk to her about food and/or photog...

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