There are not many brands that I have an emotional connection with. I mean, my love for Excel knows no bounds, but aside from that my relationship with brands tends to be a lot more transactional. PANDORA however, PANDORA is the exception. You may know it as the Danish jewellery brand making memory filled charm bracelets, but for me it is what set me on my current career path years before I knew it.

Throughout university I worked at a jewellery store, three years of lectures in the morning and diamonds in the afternoon. It was a great introduction to working life …as working with customers often is. I learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can always describe something hopelessly ugly as ‘unique’ when someone asks (and you don’t want to lose the sale) and most importantly that sapphires come in many colours but ‘ruby’ is the only sapphire to have its own name because it was prized in India.

About a year into my time selling jewellery we got PANDORA in the store. I think we were one of the first stores in NZ to be a reseller so it was a big deal. I loved selling it because you heard such incredible stories of love, achievement and hope as customers picked out their charms. My favourite was a guy who filled an entire bracelet for his wife of 50 years, with each charm representing an important milestone in their relationship. So many stories, so many tears.

So how did selling PANDORA predict my future career? For those who don’t know, after going down a few wrong paths I have ended up as a business analyst. It is the perfect job in my eyes; I deal with fixing processes, creatively expressing data and making businesses work more efficiently. I freakin love it.

The problem that we had back in the jewellery store was that PANDORA had literally hundreds of different charms, rings, earrings and bracelets. When we first got them we kept all the beads in little bags in a big plastic box. It was a nightmare to find the one specific charm full of meaning you were after in a sea of plastic bags. The situation was even more of a nightmare when it came to ordering the charms, there was no easy way of knowing what stock levels were like (we were all manual back in the day with handwritten receipts and everything, no computers to do the thinking for you).

Being the manager on a very quiet Sunday I took this and designed a stocktaking system. Looking back it is really adorable, laminated pages and whiteboard markers, but at the time it made life easier and we used it until the store got a computer system. This little system was my first taste at improving business processes, a job that I now own and love. PANDORA will always own a warm fuzzy place in my heart for giving me a taste of my future years before I understood the importance and joy of a VLOOKUP.

But why am I blogging about them now? PANDORA have just announced their collaboration with Disney, something that customers were asking for all those years ago in little old New Zealand. There is a new range of charms celebrating the castle, the carriage, the characters and the magic that is Disney. I am actually heading to Disneyworld next year, so this partnership is just all kinds of amazing. PANDORA invited me to a Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea to celebrate the launch, and I can’t say how grateful I am to be given this beautiful walk down memory lane.

I really like reading behind the scenes from small business ventures so I thought it might be interesting to give you a little Zeal & Heart update. It’s now been four months since I decided to take the risk and import an engraving machine, and thankfully I still think it’s a good idea. I mean I’m slightly sick of having a heart attack every time I look at my bank account, but I am glad I went ahead with Zeal & Heart.

One of the biggest learnings was around photography. Turns out I have chosen to manufacture the hardest product to photograph imaginable. Seriously, the pendants are tiny and reflective why did no one warn me? After three photo shoots with mixed results (I liked the overall composition but it was impossible to see the pendants) I did some investigating and found a somewhat affordable lens for my Olympus Pen camera. There are two lenses for the Pen if you want to shoot Macro the 60mm which is £429 and the brand new 30mm which is £249. I think the 60mm is better if you want to photograph actual bugs, but it was way out of my price range (and I have mixed feelings about bugs). The new 30mm however turns out to be perfect for my Zeal & Heart needs, and since I found a 25% off code on Twitter (there are a few floating around) I got it down to £188. It took my bank balance into an even more unfriendly place, but the improvement in product photos I think is worth it.

The second big change around these parts is around the social media. Notice a marked improvement in the last couple of weeks? Yeah, that has nothing to do with me. Over Easter I went out for brunch with Jacintha and she told me about the ‘4 hour work week’ book by Timothy Ferriss, it sounded interesting so right there at the brunch table in New Zealand I ordered it on Amazon. That book is still sitting on my shelf looking at me, I haven’t even cracked the spine. But the concept got me thinking enough about the bits of business I am good at and the bits that I’m not, and thinking about the parts of Zeal & Heart that I enjoy (I seriously need to read the book). The social media side of business I find really interesting from a dork point of view, but I could not think of anything worse than actually scheduling the posts or having a content strategy. Enter Emma stage left. Around the same time as I started Zeal & Heart Emma started her own Social Media consultancy business, and let me tell you in two weeks she has done a better job across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook than I could have done in a lifetime. If you have a small business and suck at the social media give Emma a shout.

The last thing I have done was get a consulting session with Jasmine to talk about my Etsy strategy. I had no idea that Etsy was essentially a giant search engine, and without optimising the dreaded SEO I wasn’t going to get far. I think my biggest lesson with this business game is that I don’t know it all and reaching out to far more knowledgeable friends will hopefully kick it in the ass. Jasmine thankfully got me drunk before even broaching the topic of SEO, and even then lead into it gently with small words and big pictures. That girl knows her shit and knows how to simplify it all down to my level.

Last but not least I have a big announcement! I get the absolute privilege of letting you know about the first Zeal & Heart collaboration is with the one and only Laura Jane Williams from Superlatively Rude. Laura is a twice published author, former Grazia columnist and the ultimate in Instagram Stories entertainment. Laura is joining Zeal & Heart for a limited edition ‘Zeal & Heart ft Laura Jane Williams’ pendant featuring the epic phrase “none of us is fucking up like we think we are”. As always the design is limited edition and only 250 will be made, they go on sale at 6pm tonight so get in quick.

Shoot me any Z&H questions you have, I will give you another update shortly.

I realise that using the internet as a Magic 8 Ball might not be the best idea. But when a girl is drunk on stolen gin and alone in a Berlin hotel room, who else is she to turn to? Three months ago I asked Twitter if I should take a risk or not, without giving any context whatsoever, 54 of you answered and the clear majority said yes take the risk. Based on the hive mind of the internet the next day I spent all of my savings ordering an engraving machine from Korea. Thanks to that 93% today I get the excited privilege to introduce you to Zeal & Heart, my new jewellery line.

For those who have been reading since the start of Runawaykiwi (man, 2012 feels like 9 lifetimes ago) you will remember I used to sell jewellery on Etsy. Back in those days I had three designs that I got a manufacturer in Birmingham to make and to be very honest the sales meant I could eat that year (skint in London is no fun at all). Getting someone else to manufacturer was never exactly what I wanted to do, but in the dark ages of 2012 (pre-Brexit, pre-Trump, pre-gin based alcoholism) the technology didn’t exist to produce what I wanted.

My dream was to be able to engrave all of those Pinterest worthy quotes on tiny pendants, tiny so that they are a talisman for you and only you, not something shouted at the world. Over the years I have wanted to tattoo myself with these sayings changing my mind every other week over which it should be, but I think sterling silver is the less permanent option. Anyway, I digress. Thanks to five years of waiting the technology now exists and is sitting in my living room.

Zeal & Heart is going to be all limited edition designs (thanks to my low boredom threshold…yeah I really shouldn’t get a tattoo) and I am making only 100 of each. The sterling silver pendants can be purchased on a chain or just as the pendant and are all engraved with the edition number on the back, so you know which of the 100 you have. Once a design is sold out that’s it, on to the next Zeal & Heart message in silver.

My big hope (apart from you know, people buying them!) is that Zeal & Heart pendants bring a little bit of hope, courage or solace to you when you wear them. I know what it feels like to be a little lost in the world and sometimes all you need is that simple message to remind yourself and bring you back to center.

Seven designs are currently up on my Etsy store, keep your eye out for new designs being added to the range soon.

Love Runawaykiwi

xx

Runawaykiwi Cloud

This months travel link-up was all abut places that you can’t get out of your head. I tried to write a post for the last couple of weeks, but I just could not make any sort of coherent argument – not when there are bigger things happening in the world that I just can’t get out of my head.

I have written time and time again about how homesickness makes you feel as an expat. We are living on the other side of the world and sometimes the thought of being so far away feels like a heart wound that won’t heal. But we have chosen to live in another country. We may have limited visas but we have the right to live here, and can travel as we please. We may be permanently skint but we are secure. No so for the thousands of refugees currently walking across Europe.

They have the same heart wounds except the home they are thinking of no longer exists. The food, the neighborhoods and the history that we miss, well we will experience it again someday – for the refugees it no longer exists. Imagine how you would feel if it were all gone.

That feeling is enough to make me want to help. But they also currently have no security, no water, no country, no idea what is around the corner and memories of a civil war haunting them.

So what can you do? I am selling the sterling silver cloud pendant to raise money for the Save the Children Child Refugee Crisis Appeal. Literally all the money you pay is going to be donated, I’m even paying the Etsy fees to make this happen. And if all 30 are sold? Together we can donate £1,000 to the refugee appeal.

Please, for all the times that you felt homesick help me do this. Click here to buy.