Ashes Memorial Jewellery is a very small business, with Julia, engraver Ruth Hallows, and three other part-time employees the only staff on the books.
While both are very skilled, the fine precision needed to engrave handwriting, fingerprints and intricate patterns onto jewellery requires the use of an engraving machine.
When customers asked for this, Ashes Memorial Jewellery had to outsource the work to contacts in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham who had the machinery capable of producing the patterns on the jewellery.
With Birmingham being around 30 miles away from Burton, travelling to and from the Jewellery Quarter increased time and costs for Ashes Memorial Jewellery and put a limit on how much it could produce for customers.
Julia said: “We knew what was holding us back was our inability to use an engraving machine in-house. The problem was we didn’t have the spare capital to purchase the machine outright, and we were uneasy about taking out a loan as there would be a lot of pressure on us to produce enough jewellery to pay it off quickly.
“I decided to contact the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub to see if there were any grants available. They quickly referred me to the Made Smarter scheme which seemed to be exactly what we were looking for.”