Tamsin Gordon graduated with a degree in Graphic Communication in 2014. Having interned in a number of advertising agencies and worked in jewellery and fashion, Tamsin recently started her own jewellery rental subscription business, Glitzbox.
I wanted to do a foundation course in art and design and then study Graphic Communications. I moved schools a lot with my dad’s job growing up, so I wanted a university where I could do both the foundation and degree in one place.
I also wanted somewhere that was not just a good art university and that had lots of other strengths, courses and types of people as I like a really mixed environment. Loughborough was on my shortlist and when I went to visit for the first time it was really sunny with lots of students floating about in all of the green areas and it became my number one choice.
Studying Graphic Communications gave me a lot of freedom to create my own projects, especially in my final year. This has helped when I ended up starting my own business as I was confident in my design abilities, but also in being able to manage a project from start to end.
I think going to a university with so many types of courses and people also really broadened my network, meaning I didn’t only make friends with art students and instead had a diverse friendship group all working towards different careers. As I tested out internships and jobs, I also learnt through my friends’ experiences and it helped me figure out what I wanted to do. It was also great because different years mixed well in halls and across societies so I have older friends with more experience I can now call on for advice or support in my career.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
I’d recommend doing internships whilst you are still doing your course because although at university you get to take part in all aspects of the design process, this isn’t always the case in industry. The roles are much more specific (for example art worker, copywriter, art director, illustrator) and it’s important to test these out, figure out what you enjoy doing and then use your time wisely during your course to create a portfolio that is tailored towards these jobs.
Also, if you ever want to start a business, university is a great time - there is so much support and a lot of the work you do on the Graphic Communications course could be used towards branding a business. I wish I’d made the most of that time more, as now I’m balancing working full-time and trying to grow my own business.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
Yes, I was involved in Marketing for LSU Media. I volunteered firstly in photography shooting students on nights out, then in the magazine, Label, designing the spreads and finally as the Head of Marketing for the Radio, TV and Magazine. This was helpful when applying for jobs and also in applying the skills from my degree in a practical way.
I was also part of the Ski society and went on two ski trips which were really fun with a great group of people. Well worth saving up for!
I also worked part-time as a waitress for the three years at a local restaurant. This made it possible for me to travel and have some extra spending money, plus it was good experience for my CV when I graduated.
I would fully recommend trying to join a society, sports team or getting a part-time job because not only will it make you more employable in the future, but it’s also another group of friends. Most of your friends are likely to come from halls or where you live but it’s healthy to have different groups with different interests as well. It’s especially good in the first few weeks whilst you find your feet to join in with as many things as possible and then you can become more selective as you start to settle in.
I founded Glitzbox which is the UK’s first jewellery rental subscription service. For a monthly fee, members can borrow up to £400 worth of jewellery. They fill in a style profile and we curate a box just for them from the most exciting up-and-coming designers. They can then wear the pieces all month and return them all to us with their prepaid returns slip; alternatively they can buy any of the pieces they love at a member discount. I’m soon to launch the agency side of the business which will help up-and-coming designers create more content and brand awareness.
I interned at a few advertising agencies during my time at university, which is where I realised I didn’t want to be a graphic designer but preferred working with creatives in a more organisational role. That is what drew me to Account Management and Client services and I did work experience in those areas too. After graduating, my aim was to go travelling so I took a job as a Marketing Intern at a company close to my parent’s house in order to save for a six months and then travel for six months.
When I returned, I got a job at Notonthehighstreet.com as a Partner Support Assistant, working with the new brands selling on the platform within the jewellery and fashion categories. I worked here for just over a year, but felt frustrated at not receiving a promotion I applied for and at the same time I was inspired by the small businesses I was working with on a daily basis. I realised designers really struggled to stand out online, and I thought a rental subscription could help solve that problem. After researching and realising no one else was running a business that offered jewellery rental as part of a monthly membership, I decided to take the leap and launch the business myself.
I left my job at the beginning of 2017 and started working freelance alongside launching Glitzbox. In my first year as a founder, there have been many ups and downs, the main one of which has been cash flow. So, I have now accepted a full-time role as a Marketing Manager alongside still working on Glitzbox on weekends and evenings. Without the experience I had on my own, I don’t think I’d have had the confidence to go for such a senior position.
I love discovering new designers. I am passionate about matching people, so I love finding the perfect piece for one of my subscribers or discovering a really exciting new brand. I also love the creativity of running my own campaigns, social media and events.
I’m about to start my full-time marketing role with a jewellery brand, so I’m excited to learn even more from that and push both the brand and Glitzbox further. I’m going to focus more on the agency side of Glitzbox, working with influencers and content creators to promote the jewellery industry more. I get lonely working by myself, so although it will be a challenge to manage my time, I’m up for it!
I won a pitching competition as part of Richard Branson's Voom Tour and I cried with happiness. It wasn’t just the prize money which would be a huge help to my business, but the timing felt incredibly rewarding as I’d been working such long hours and it sometimes feels like I am simply banging my head against a brick wall. I didn’t feel confident in my pitch that day and was so surprised and delighted I won. It felt so good to get acknowledged for all the hard work I’d put in and it was a really proud moment for me.