Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire
It takes a huge amount of courage to follow your heart and pursue a lifelong dream and it would appear Johanna Harpur’s fearlessness knows no bounds. After dedicating 20 years to the family business, before taking time out to raise three young children, Johanna finally took a leap of faith and started her own business called Jo Harpur Jewellery. “I had been working with my husband for a long time and, while it was very rewarding, I always had a grá to go out on my own,” she explains. “My eternal love for all things beautiful really pushed me to start creating my own line of jewellery. That, and my obsession with all things sparkly since I was a child!”
However, it’s one thing to dream it, another to achieve it, and Johanna is the first to admit the prospect was incredibly daunting. “I was petrified at the beginning!” she explains. “Sure, I had a lot of experience dealing with clients at board level, but this was brand new – this time it was about me. I had to sell myself and my passion and that was very difficult at first. Actually, it’s something that I can still struggle with… but I think I’m getting better.”
Thankfully, with sister Anne Marie – who’s an experienced gemologist – by her side, and hands on training from renowned goldsmith, Deirdre O’Donnell, they decided to use only the best semi-precious stones and plated metals to make stunning pieces that were incredibly affordable and truly Irish. “This boutique of costume jewellery, made up of my designs, won’t be found anywhere else,” explains Johanna. “It’s guaranteed, affordable luxury. Every product comes in a beautiful presentation box and we only use the finest of metals and semi-precious stones.”
Is it any wonder, then, that Aer Lingus is a huge fan? Yes, when it comes to dreaming big, Johanna has taken it to new heights, literally. As the best-selling jewellery brand on Aer Lingus, the sky really is the limit for the brand. “That was probably one of my proudest career moments to date,” Johanna reveals. “My children and I were flying to Portugal and they were reading very loudly that Mum was in the magazine (Boutique), and that my bracelet was featured exclusively. Yes, I was embarrassed, but also secretly thrilled.”
When her family aren’t shouting their praises from the skies, they’re getting involved at ground level. From Johanna’s sister, who works with her, to Johanna’s daughter Aoife who models for her, her brother-in-law Chris who is the photographer, and her mum who inspires her, this really is a home-grown, heartfelt, family business. “My sister Anne Marie and I have a great working relationship – she has an incredible wealth of knowledge in her field. I also love working with my daughter and, while it can be hard for her to take direction from myself and Anne Marie – she is 15 after all – she’s always thrilled with the end results. My brother-in-law Chris is an incredible photographer. He works very closely with Michael D Higgins and specialises in portrait shots so we’re very fortunate to have him on board.
And my mum?
Well, she’s my inspiration. I get my work ethic from her, which drives me to get out of bed every day and keeps me going. She taught me from a very young age that you nothing in life is free and everything you have to earn. Keep going! Don’t give up! I haven’t and I couldn’t feel more blessed right now. My mum is my mentor and she still inspires me every day.”
For more information log onto joharpurjewellery.com
Favourite gem? Diamonds, of course! Failing that, I love to work with semi-precious stones and Aqua Marine is at the top of the list.
Favourite metal? I’m loving white metals right now, and I also adore working with yellow and rose-coloured golds that are still very popular.
Why jewellery? I absolutely adore what a simple piece of jewellery can do to an outfit. It can instantly transform it from drab to dramatic!
First jewellery memory? Dressing up in my mother’s coats and adoring myself with her pearls.
Favourite quote? “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” Coco Chanel. There really is no need for an explanation…