Meet the Sheffield jewellery designer who is helping to bring a pop of colour and fun to people's lives
When it comes to jewellery, Sheffield designer Danielle Parker-Jessop has two rules: it must be colourful, and it must be playful.
The 37-year-old owns Miroo, a Sheffield small business which specialises in acrylic, laser-cut jewellery, with pop-art flourishes that are eye catching and help to tell a story.
Danielle named the business after her five-year-old son, Reuben, who has the nickname “Roo,” and thus, she decided to call her business “Miroo”.
While she loves jewellery, and colourful clothing, Danielle did not set out to start her own business.
Danielle has previously worked as an Arts Co-Ordinator for Sheffield Hospitals Charity, through which she helped to “improve patient experiences through art.”
But while on maternity leave after having Reuben, Danielle began to notice that the clothes she was wearing were “dull and boring” and were a far cry away from the colourful and vibrant garments she was normally drawn to.
"I couldn’t fit into my older, more colourful clothes, and I started wearing jewellery as a way of bringing colour into my life. I couldn’t afford the jewellery I wanted, so I started to make my own,” she explained.
“I suppose I was using it as a way of finding clothes again; and I found that when I would wear colourful things again, I felt more like myself,” Danielle added.
As the saying goes: necessity is the mother of invention; and while Danielle had never undergone any sort of training she set about teaching herself how to make the type of fun pieces she wanted to wear.
Her husband, Gavin Jessop, is a graphic designer and talked her through using the design programme, and she taught herself the rest.
"I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting to find out what works, and what looks good. I was just doing it for my own enjoyment, as a hobby really.
"I never expected it to become a business,” she explained.
The first piece Danielle ever made featured a pink flamingo, and she has not looked back since.
"I started off slowly, but have really gone for it…I design for myself basically, because I think that if I design things I like and think are cute and fun, then hopefully other people will the same way about them too,” she explained.
"It all happened quite quickly, I was making things for friends, for myself, and what I was making was getting a lot of attention. My husband encouraged me to start selling them so I set up an Etsy shop,” Danielle said, adding that she quickly tried to gain some momentum by taking her jewellery to markets in Sheffield and a number of other locations.
Today, she has a wide ranging collection comprised of earrings, necklaces, pin badges, tote bags and t-shirts, and is stocked in four shops, including the Sheffield Makers’ Shop in the Winter Gardens in the city centre and the Walkley Press on South Road, Walkley.
Handmade Nottingham and Shop Indie in Chesterfield also stock Miroo jewellery.
Her colourful collections include pieces bearing phrases and words such as “joy,” “out out,” “play time,” “wild and free,” “radiate rainbows” and more.
They combine fun patterns with bright, and in some cases, mirrored colours; and include playful designs featuring dinosaurs and reflecting idioms such as “storm in a teacup” or “pigs might fly”.
“A lot of pieces from my most recent collections have mirrored acrylics on them, and I really like the way they look,” said Danielle.
Danielle says she took the plunge and gave up her other job to focus on Miroo just a few months before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in December 2019.
As with a lot of businesses, the pandemic lead to some of Danielle’s revenue streams from shops and markets drying up over night.
She set up her website around two or three years ago, and when the Covid pandemic hit, Danielle felt relieved not to have to scrabble to put something together.
Danielle said: "I completely stopped doing events, so having the website there has been so important for my business.”
“People were buying lots of gifts for people during lockdown. I offer the option to send a gift message; and some of the messages people were sending to each other were so lovely.”
"I think the pandemic has made people more conscious of small businesses, and the need to support them where they can,” added Danielle.
Danielle has a workspace at Trafalgar Studios on Trafalgar Street in the city centre, which she says is used by several creatives operating out of Sheffield.
But due to needing to look after Reuben, Danielle has spent much of the last year making jewellery in her attic.
"For a long time, I had my little one at home. I had to go back to working weekends and nights,” said Danielle.
While Danielle loves working for herself, and has found it to be invaluable while trying to juggle childcare in the midst of a pandemic, she began to miss bouncing ideas off colleagues, and the social aspects of a work environment.
That, coupled with her support of other independent makers, inspired Danielle to set up an online market group on Facebook for customers based in the Meersbrook area of the city, where she lives.
She launched the group last October in time for Christmas shopping, and said it was lovely to create a way that shoppers could support independent businesses, and to be able to (safely) hand deliver her gifts.
“I felt I wanted to do something to help other small businesses. There’s such a big creative community in Sheffield, and so I knew a lot of people who were in the same situation as me,” Danielle said.
And it is not just Danielle who wants to support fellow makers, she says the city’s creative community are incredibly supportive of one another.
"There are a lot of people making really special things, Sheffield is such a good city of makers….we all get to know each other and everyone’s really supportive,” said Danielle.
Danielle has also started to arrange makers’ meet-ups, the first of which took place at Graves Park a little while ago.
The self-taught jewellery maker says she is constantly inspired by other makers in Sheffield and beyond, and has entered into collaborations with Sheffield children’s clothes shop, Buttons Attic, which is run by Rebecca Siddall with whom she is making a range of fabulous headbands, and Evie Jade UK which is run by South Yorkshire maker, Lucy Waller.
The “Miroo and friends” section of her website is dedicating to showcasing her collaborations with others.
Danielle also includes a “happy hour” feature on her Instagram page, which has over 5,000 followers, at 5pm on a Friday, through which she invites another maker to take part in an online chat.
"We chat about what makes us happy, what we’ve been doing – that sort of thing,” she said.
Looking ahead to the future, Danielle is on the cusp of launching a limited edition earring of the month that will launch on the first Friday of each month.
It will exclusively be available online for that month only, in addition to her popular core range.
Danielle is also hoping to find some more wholesale stockists for her jewellery, and is looking forward to showcasing her pieces at the next Peddler Market which is due to take place on Burton Road, Neepsend over the first weekend of August.
For more information, please visit the Miroo website at: https://www.miroo.co.uk/