Everyone who achieves success goes through a personal journey of deep transformation. We have to dig deep within ourselves to discover our true creative source and passion. People often think that success is an external quality, a list of accomplishments we achieve through our lives and material wealth. The biggest success stories are the people who have succeeded in finding peace within themselves and true joy in their work.
Today I interview the multi-award winning and iconic International Jeweller Shaun Leane. Leane lives in London, United Kingdom. In February 2006, he was made a Freeman of the City of London which is the highest honour in the city. He is one of the UK’s most innovative jewellery designers and through his partnerships with Alexander Mcqueen, Sotheby’s and Royal families around the world he has created some of the most incredible fine jewellery pieces of the 21st century.
In conjunction with Kerry Taylor Auctions, Leane’s personal archive of couture jewellery was offered for auction by Sotheby’s New York, and showcased 45 of the most iconic designs produced in the last two decades for Alexander McQueen, Daphne Guinness, Sarah Jessica Parker, Isabella Blow and Kate Moss. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria & Albert presented Leane’s most inspiring artistic creations.
What inspired you to create your business?
In the beginning I never really set out to create my own business it developed organically. While working full time for English traditional jewellery, in 1994 Alexander McQueen asked me to start working with him on his first fashion shows, here we struck a beautiful partnership where I could fuse my traditional, classical Goldsmithing training with an Avant Garde fashion platform. Here the identity and the Signature handwriting of the house of Shaun Leane was born. It was throughout these four years I created an identity and began to create a name for myself as my work was on catwalks from Paris, London and New York. In 1998 I was then approached by department stores worldwide to purchase Shaun Leane collections, at this point I hadn’t created collections so due to demand I began to design a range of commercial works that were a fusion of my classical goldsmithing training and contemporary design inspired by my works for the McQueen shows. Through this demand I left English traditional jewellery after 13 years (where I served my apprenticeship) rented a single bench in a shared workshop and began my business in 1999.
The house of Shaun Leane is still growing whilst consistently carrying the same handwriting it had then.
What do you feel has been the most important part of your journey so far?
I feel for me the most important part of my journey so far is after all these years I have realised the love and the importance of understanding my medium, metal! Being able to translate my concepts into different forms with it, from crafting Platinum diamond tiaras for Asprey’s to creating aluminium corsets on the McQueen runways, to now working in architecture and decorating seven story buildings with bronze works which embrace and captivate the building. Learning not to be afraid to explore the different possibilities of how I can manipulate and work with this beautiful material has allowed me to create the diverse body of works to date.
What has been the greatest revelation behind achieving success?
I think for me the revelation of success is a deep personal achievement. Growing up in a very strict academic school and being a child suffering from dyslexia at some points I had feelings I had no talent and confusion as I didn’t fit in…to then discover at the age of 14 a foundation course in jewellery making and jewellery design of where I learnt I had a skill and a natural taking to craft which has enabled me over the last 35 years to create the objects from jewellery to body sculpture to architecture. To me this is the revelation of success that I discovered my talent and embraced it and nurtured it to this very day.
What has been your biggest challenge?
To be honest I feel the biggest challenge has been to find a work life balance. I am so driven by creativity and a passion to explore new disciplines that throughout my career and passion for my business and for my work sometimes over ride my personal life so this has made it at some point very difficult to find a work life balance. Thankfully now in my later years I have learnt to balance the two which now feeds my creativity even more.
What have been the gifts you have learnt?
To know my medium and approach everything with an open mind to not let fear of new exploration or experiment hinder me; but drive me to push boundaries and create the Avant Garde.
If you could go back and give the Shaun first starting out one piece of advice what would it be?
I have no regrets in my journey as I feel every crossroad positive and negative has been a learning curve and led me to be the artist I am today. On a logistical view I think if I were to go back working alongside my creative development, I would’ve invested in a short business course as I feel this would have helped me make easier business decisions and along the way.
How did you find your definition of success, what does it mean to you?
My definition of success is being able to look back at early works, even going back as far as 30 years and still feeling inspired, provoked and excited knowing that the energy I put into my early works is still a force I understand today. This consistency and deep understanding of myself portrayed in my work is the definition of success to me. This means to me that I am truly grateful that my craft has been the vehicle for me to express my thoughts, emotions and inner-self.
How do you keep hold of your dream?
I remain forever teachable, this entail gives me an open mind which allows me to explore new mediums and disciplines allowing the dream to continue.
What does the future hold for the brand?
As innovation and impeccable hand-craftsmanship remain central to the brand’s ethos, the House continues to take the noble art of the jewel onto new levels and into the future. I remain at the heart of the business as Creative Director working on new concepts and projects both in our London atelier and worldwide. For me, continuing to mentor the team and ensuring meticulous attention to detail is paramount to our enduring legacy.
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