Life’s a beach for three students who launched a jewellery business while cleaning up the Cornwall coastline.
Holly Fowler, Lennie Jones and Ming Dawe are second year Entrepreneurship students at Falmouth University.
With the support of the university’s Business School, their new venture Zennor Glass has already received a wave of international orders.
Using glass they collect from beaches on the south coast, the trio create beautiful handcrafted necklaces, earrings and custom pieces that have proven popular with customers from as far away as the United States.
Keen surfer Fowler, 21, 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 said.
“We decided to turn this glass into something we and other people could wear, doing very little to change the shape as we wanted to keep the process as natural as possible.
“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.
Lennie, 20, says they’ve never looked back, and have plans to expand further in the next year.
“People seem to love what we’re producing, which is so heartening because when we started – and I guess it’s the same for any business – it was very nerve-wracking,” she said.
“You put yourself out there and hope people will buy it, and they have been – the response has been fantastic.”
Ming, 20, added: “A lot of the glass we find can date back to the early 1900s, 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.
“We receive a lot of requests to customise pieces, and that’s something we plan to do more of, and are 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.”
Professor Chris Jones, director of Falmouth Business School, praised Holly, Lennie and Ming for their “inspirational” decision to take the plunge with their own firm while supporting their community and, ultimately, the planet.
“It’s inspirational to see how far the three of them have come in such a short space of time,” he said.
“At Falmouth we encourage and nurture entrepreneurial spirit, and they have that in abundance.”