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Roxanne Nicholls

Roxanne Nicholls
Year of graduation:
2011

Making headlines in jewellery

Roxanne Nicholls had planned to become a journalist after graduating from Staffordshire University in 2011, but her life took a different path.

She now runs her own business, Charms and Chains (http://www.charmsandchains.co.uk), based at the 32 Town Road Vintage Shop in Hanley, and hasn’t looked back since starting selling her jewellery at craft fairs and summer fetes.

“When people ask what I did at uni and I say with journalism, they laugh and ask how I got to where I am now because the two seem so different, but my degree has helped hugely,” says the 24-year-old, who lives in Burslem.

“Social media, PR and marketing are vital aspects to business and getting your name out there. I’ve been able to do that all by myself because of what I learnt and experienced at Staffs.”

Seize the opportunity

Not wanting to move away from her hometown of Stoke-on-Trent, she’d found it difficult to get a full-time job in journalism and decided instead to build her jewellery-making hobby into a business.

When she saw how well her wares sold at craft fairs, she seized the opportunity to open a market stall in Hanley.

“I heard the manager of the indoor market talking on Radio Stoke about trading in the market, and got in touch with him,” she says.

“In March 2012 I opened my first market stall and set up my website a couple of months later.”

In October that year she moved across to a first floor shop unit at 26 Town Road, and in August the following year she worked with photographer Rebecca Jones to create “number26”, opening up the whole building to become a quirky alternative to the high street, filled with small independent businesses in each room, including Charms and Chains.

And in September 2014 she moved up the road to 32 Town Road, sharing the shop with another business, Sparrowhawk Vintage.

As well as her own jewellery creations, she also sells a range of vintage clothing, home accessories, gifts and greetings cards – many of which are made by fellow Staffordshire University students and graduates.

“It’s been a busy few years but I’ve learnt so much on the way and to look back and think where I started, it’s crazy,” she laughs. “Stoke is my home so it influences everything I do. I love my hometown!”

Staffordshire through and through

Roxanne chose Staffordshire because she wanted to live at home while studying, and fortunately she loved the university after attending an open day and taster days – “my decision to study here was easy!” she says.

She has been back to the University while taking part in Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Factory project, a business development programme for small and medium enterprises working in the creative industries, and has also traded at vintage fairs at the LRV.

“I like to get involved in Freshers’ Week because it’s so exciting,” she says. “There have been a lot of changes around campus and I think it looks great. There’s always something new each time I visit.

“Staffs Uni has been a massive part of my life. I spent three years studying there, met a lot of lovely people and made connections that have helped me throughout my career and inspired me massively.”