When Dani Jackson was advised to take up a hobby, she had no idea it would lead to launching her own business.
Like many of us, Dani, who has two young children, struggled with mental health in the face of the pandemic, especially when her husband returned to work during the second lockdown.
She counts herself lucky to have accessed weekly therapy via the NHS, and was told to take up a hobby which would keep both her mind and body busy.
Having always loved art and the creative side of things, Dani decided to try her hand at making earrings from polymer clay.
What started as a journey to improve her wellbeing, has now turned into a fully fledged business.
Dani’s stunning earrings are stocked both online and in store, with beautiful Scandi colours and a range of shapes – from crescent moons to rainbows – under the name Isle and Coast.
We caught up with her and found out what’s next for her beautiful jewellery line.
It has been a busy time for Dani, who juggles running the business with her nine till five job.
“I still work full time, I’m a regional manager for a woman’s clothing company,” said Dani, who is mum to seven year old Oli, and Harris, two.
“People ask me how I find the time, and I honestly don’t know.
“My role includes travelling, but luckily I’m based in Aberdeen.”
The family previously lived in Montrose, where lockdown became increasingly difficult.
“We were away from our family and you weren’t allowed to visit people,” said Dani.
“I knew I was going through a bad spell having experienced similar in the past, and I just didn’t want to go back to that place again.
“I phoned the GP and had a weekly phone call with a therapist, who suggested I get a hobby which would keep both my hands and my mind busy.”
Armed with a rolling pin from the kitchen drawer, Dani set about working with clay and made herself some earrings.
“I could never really find statements earrings that weren’t too heavy to wear,” said Dani.
“Friends started asking if I could earrings for them, this was the Christmas of 2020.
“Then my mum suggested I should start selling them, and it went from there.”
Dani launched her business around February time last year, and has even attracted customers from as far afield as Italy.
“I was worried at first because there were so many people out there making jewellery from polymer clay,” she said.
“The crafting and clay community is amazing though.
“It took me a while to get my specific style. I like to keep things neutral.
“I tried so hard to do bright eccentric things, but now I’ve muted it down. Everything is a lot softer.
“I get all my cutters from UK suppliers. Clay can be really hard to get hold of as a lot of it comes from America.
“So when you finally get some it’s fill your boots time.”
As for the name, Dani was inspired by the beautiful north-east.
“I love Scotland, I don’t understand why you’d want to go on holiday anywhere else.
“I find it very inspiring, and the name just came to me.”
Dani lets inspiration strike instead of planning her eye catching designs however, a method which is clearly working for her.
“The amount of things you can do is endless,” she said.
“I use the primary colours then mix everything myself. I don’t really plan, I just do whatever I feel like doing.”
Once the shape has been cut, the clays bakes in the oven for one hour before Dani gets on with sanding.
“Then I give everything a bubble bath and it’s onto my favourite part which is assembling,” she said.
“I find it quite relaxing.”
Dani went on to set up her own website, and her products are also stocked at Starfish Studio in Johnsaven and Number One in Banchory, alongside Artisan Giftware in Buckie.
“I do a blog on my website about tools of the trade, it’s so good to be able to help other crafters out,” she said.
“I love what I do, and I’m always thinking to myself, what can I add?
“So many of my styles have very Scottish names and a lot of the time I use Gaelic , so my spring 2022 collection is “àm an earraich” meaning the springtime.
“I love Gaelic, I have such early memories of being around people who spoke Gaelic and would watch dòtaman.”
Alongside earrings, Dani also makes beautiful necklaces with initial charms, and is now focusing on bringing in new creations.
“I’m currently experimenting with trinket trays and wall hangings,” said Dani.
“I originally set up my Instagram to show things that I had made, I never imagined that it would turn into this.
“I had someone from Italy order stuff for Christmas, and then they’ve just made another order recently.
“That’s a really good feeling.”
To find out more, visit the Instagram page @isleandcoat or check out the website at www.isleandcoast.com/