Ashwell entrepreneur Georgia Humbert talks to Rebecca Pitcairn about launching a fashionable and socially responsible jewellery brand in the age of social media
Anyone who thinks that members of Generation Z are work shy and spend all their time messing about on social media should meet Ashwell entrepreneur, Georgia Humbert. At just 22 years of age, she has already launched a number of creative businesses and her independent jewellery brand, Smoothie London, is proving so popular that the latest collection sold out in just ten minutes.
“The last few months have been really busy – I can’t keep the ear party sets in stock for longer than a day so keeping on top of inventory is a challenge, but it’s a nice challenge to have,” admits the former St Francis College pupil.
Humbert, who is in the last term of a business degree at the University of Exeter when we speak, launched Smoothie London during lockdown after she became frustrated with the fiddly clasps and quick tarnishing of jewellery she’d purchased from other brands.
“I live a hectic lifestyle so I tend to wear my jewellery for long periods of time and found most of the affordable jewellery out there would tarnish easily,” she explains. “It was either premium brands, who were great and socially responsible, or the cheaper high street shops, which were bad quality and didn’t align with my values. I felt that something was missing in the middle that offered premium quality pieces, at high-street prices with social responsibility at the heart.”
Deciding to create a product line to fill that gap, Humbert took just £126 from her savings and, together with her best friend, started Smoothie London. “We decided on the name because we initially wanted to make earrings with fruit charms on them, the type of fruits which might go into smoothies,” she explains. “In the end we couldn’t source what we wanted, but we thought the name was fun, frivolous and memorable, so it stuck.”
With jewellery maximalism and earscaping very much in vogue, the brand initially specialised in stackable huggie hoop earrings, but the product range has since expanded to over 100 pieces that include ear cuffs, rings, necklaces, anklets and pre-made ear stacking sets with prices starting from £9.
“The designs are very personality focused,” she goes on to say about her jewellery, which is crafted with recyclable materials. “I think when you wear the same pieces of jewellery every day you want them to show your personality – way beyond your standard plain gold hoop. You want them to represent you, be unique and ideally get some compliments!”
It was perhaps inevitable that Humbert would use her creative mindset to become successful in business early on in life. At school she used to do Henna tattoos on her friends in return for charity donations, she started a t-shirt company as a teenager and, having worked a Saturday job at Pots of Art in Hitchin, went on to make and sell her own ceramics.
When lockdown forced her to return home to Hertfordshire from university in spring 2020, she began painting a mural on her bedroom wall, which she documented on Instagram, and that soon turned into a business too.
“When I was deciding what to do at university it was a toss-up between art and business. I went down the business route, but knew I wanted to keep art in my personal life,” she says. “The mural thing started because I was bored and people saw the work on my Instagram account but then, when it was difficult to get into people’s houses to paint because of the lockdowns, I painted a mural for a Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge to give something back to the NHS.”
Humbert’s mentality to always give something back is also at the heart of Smoothie London, which donates 10% of its profits to The Pachamama Project – a charity which distributes reusable sanitary products in refugee camps. “I met the founder, Emma Lambert, not long after she started the charity, which was around the same time we launched Smoothie London. So it felt like a no brainer that The Pachamama Project should be a cause we supported,” Humbert explains. “Period poverty is such a taboo subject and a lot of the time period products are forgotten in aid packs distributed to refugee camps because the decisions of what to include are made by men, which is so sad but true. I’m just pleased to be able to use my platform to speak about it more.”
This ‘platform’ of course includes social channels such as TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram, which, while Humbert says have been key to the success of her brand, have also been one of her biggest challenges.
“I was really resistant to TikTok at first, I didn’t want to be on there, but one of my videos went viral and now 75% of my customers come from there,” she says. “It’s sometimes difficult to strike a balance. I don’t want to be spending all my time on social media, but it’s a really important marketing tool for business and if it means I can get the message out there about period poverty too, then it’s well worth it.”