Arlene Barclay creates luxury jewellery using beads made from beach plastic in order to support charities and help save the planet…
‘I’ve always been creative, but my parents felt an office career offered more stability and my art teacher thought I wouldn’t get into art school. I’d always made things for friends, but it became a business when I wanted a tiara for my own wedding. I thought the choice and quality was disappointing and knew I could do a better job myself so I formed Angel’s Halos and sold through local wedding fairs for thirteen years, taking a break when I had our son.
‘About five years ago, I started collaborating with local photographers and stylists to create outrageous fashion headpieces and crowns. House of Halos was nominated by The Scottish Fashion Awards and won an English gallery award. My designs were featured on the red carpet at BAFTA and the Met Gala, national UK TV shows and even Vogue. My designs won prestige and acclaim, but I eventually realised the business was never going to turn a profit! The debts were mounting and I had to make the difficult decision to quit. The voice in my head kept niggling me about planet issues.
‘After a lot of research, House of Halos now offers five philanthropic jewellery collections, each of which supports a charity. There are collections supporting charities that tackle ocean plastic pollution and I’m in talks with the WWF, War Child and smaller charities like Bumblebee Conservation.
‘I’ve been fortunate to be part of a Chamber of Commerce scheme which encourages local female entrepreneurs and my business mentor, Karen Arthur of Grand Aura, has been amazing. Simon Beniston of Medibiosense has also been hugely supportive and even created my website. It’s not easy to balance starting a creative business with a day job. I have had absolutely no social life! I work full time in an office and also part time cleaning to pay off the debts I incurred making House of Halos headpieces and to help fund my new philanthropy journey start-up process. I am still looking for an investor as I know in order for the brand to grow I need to get manufacturing
‘It takes half an hour to create one single recycled ocean plastic pollution bead from plastics I’ve litter-picked from local beaches. Bottle tops are cleaned, cut up and melted three times, then sculpted into shape. Each piece is made by hand using the highest quality sterling silver jewellery findings and sustainable eco-packaging. My ambition is for House of Halos to become a globally recognised, luxury sustainable philanthropy jewellery brand.’