With the grand opening of her studio looming and the prospect of running her business full-time at the forefront of her mind, Dr Sabine Little talks to USE about business, family and inspiration.

Photograph (left) by Richard Downton

One stall at the Enterprise Business Awards Ceremony attracted a lot of attention. It was sparkling. “Something like that would be perfect for my girlfriend,” said a young businessman fresh out of the Enterprising Alumni course. “Girls like things like that,” said the girl standing next to him. “It’s something unique. I’d melt if my boyfriend gave me this and told me it was the only one like it in the world and it’d been made especially for me.”

24 hours later, I sat in Jessops cafe with the owner of the stall, Dr Sabine Little, bespoke bead maker. Now Forevermore makes bespoke wedding jewellery, keepsake gifts, cake toppers and hair accessories… from scratch. This isn’t just a case of buying some pretty glass beads and a tiara frame and sticking them all together. Sabine makes the beads out of glass rods from a studio in her garage. They’re truly beautiful.

“I’ve got a steel rod that I keep turning in the flame. And then you build up the bead around that,” said Sabine. She smiles broadly and often. “My things are mainly sculptural… the further away you get from the glass, the quicker the bead will cool down. So it is a constant battle of how far I can go, what I can coax the glass into doing.”

Sabine makes glass butterflies and roses, what she calls sculptural beads. “I build up the upper wings on each side… then the lower wings… then I start teasing it so it’s symmetrical. Roses are more natural. People don’t expect them to be perfect like butterflies. They’re easier because you don’t have to get them so symmetrical.”

The sculptural beads are for her wedding jewellery company, Now Forevermore. Sabine has another company called Little Castle Designs that sells the beads separately for the arts and crafts market.

“I like making sculptural beads. I just like playing with the glass… teasing it and coaxing it into different shapes.”

Dr Sabine did a PHD in education and works for the Centre of Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences (CILASS) within the University. She helps members of staff integrate inquiry based learning into their departments. But her first degree was in music and she originally trained as an opera singer. Sabine worked as a secondary school teacher for a while before facing the decision of whether to return to music or carry on in education. She chose education.

But after a trip to Venice, she was entranced by the beautiful glass on Murano. On returning, she ordered herself a starter kit and has been selling her beads for just over two years now.

“What intrigues me about it is it’s kind of creative but also governed by rules,” said Sabine. “Because it’s glass and if you understand the basic rules behind it you can work with it and create something nobody has done before. To me it is a more exciting hobby than traditional arts and crafts. It is more of a dirty hobby… not quite as gentile.”

One of Sabine’s unique selling points is that she can take the Champagne bottle from your special occasion and turn it into a beautiful and unique keepsake so that you will always have something to remember that day by.

Sabine will turn the Champagne bottle from your special occasion into a bespoke piece of unique jewellery

Sabine will turn the Champagne bottle from your special occasion into a bespoke piece of unique jewellery

“I like making something unique for somebody,” said Sabine. “I’m quite a keepsake person. I like remembering special moments for some reason or another and to help other people have something that isn’t tacky but that is absolutely unique to them. It’s the kind of thing you can always stroke and you can always think: ‘That’s when: That’s when I got my first, got engaged, graduated. Those kinds of moments, I think it’s nice to be able to create something that’s unique.”

Due to popular demand for Sabine to teach her skills to other budding bead makers, she has opened a studio in Bolsterstone. “Opening a studio is a really big thing for me,” said Sabine. “I love teaching. It combines what I love about my current day job and what I love about making beads.”

Sabine had the Growth Fund from USE. She used the grant to get a stall at the UK wedding show. “It was quite scary and very busy. Over 7000 brides through the door in two days. Most of them with parents, children, mates, bridesmaids,” said Sabine. “I think I was pretty much the only one-woman show there. Everyone else was bigger. But overall, I was surprised at, even now in an economic downturn, how interested people are in bespoke, handmade pieces for weddings.”

Sabine offers some great advice for anybody wanting to follow in her footsteps:

“Your day job cannot suffer. As soon as your day job suffers, you have got a problem. I have always been quite disciplined about balancing everything and being a good mum at the same time. You do not want to start up a new business at the expense of time with your children. So a lot of time I spend beading I do after my child has gone to bed.”

To take a closer look at Sabine’s work, visit her website at www.nowforevermore.com