Harriet Vine MBE

Being massive fans of their work, we were thrilled to hear that the internationally renowned British jewellery design company Tatty Devine were visiting UAL to host an exclusive Q&A session.

Not only is their work beautiful and adored by a long list of celebrities and fashionistas across the globe (even the Queen must be a fan to award them both with a MBE last year!), Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden actually met whilst studying with us at Chelsea College of Arts.

Harriet took some time out of her hectic schedule to speak to UAL’s Alumni Relations Team about her time at Chelsea, studying in London, making the move from fine art to jewellery, her top tips for students and meeting a real life prince…

What was the best thing about Chelsea?

I remember Chelsea with a smile – I had a brilliant time there. It made me understand what being an artist meant.

I created paintings inspired by amongst other things, romance novel covers. The tutors were totally inspirational and the whole experience plays a really important part in my life.

How did your experience there prepare you for life outside university?

Chelsea gave me the space to work out who I was and how the way I look at the world can be different to everyone else.  It didn’t prepare me in a traditional way but it gave me confidence to change into the real world with the confidence I could do anything I wanted.

What was the best thing about studying in London?

Studying in London was a brilliant experience; everything was there for the taking. Amazing shows, a big art scene and more importantly lots of people making work and being creative in ways of showing it whether that be in old betting shops, on the streets or breweries.

What did you go on to do when you finished your course?

When I graduated I started Tatty Devine, with Rosie Wolfenden who I met at Chelsea.

How did you move from art into jewellery?

Rosie and I met at Chelsea. We had worked together at the V&A museum and organised the graduation party together. We made such a good team that after we graduated, we decided to work together.

Ever since we were little we had made things and were both lucky enough to have an amazing family members who are very inspirational.

One night, I found lots of leather sample books that had been thrown away from an upholstery shop and had the idea of turning them into cuffs to sell on a market stall to defer having to get a ‘proper job’. It really took off, we met stylists and buyers and before Christmas in 1999 we were selling to Harvey Nichols, Whistles and had got in to London Fashion Week.

We were also featured in Vogue, the Telegraph and Evening Standard. We opened our Brick lane shop in January 2000 as after working from our bedrooms we could see that we needed a studio space to grow from.

What are the main changes in studying art and design now compared to when you were a student?

When Rosie and I graduated there was hardly any contact with the rest of the world with websites like Twitter and no one had a blog or an Etsy shop. If you wanted to find something out you had to go to the library or talk to people.  

Obviously, all kinds of information being so readily available is amazing but at the same time it must be quite daunting. When we left we had no idea if there were two girls in NY or Paris doing the same thing, we knew our world and we met real people and people make special things happen.

What are your three top tips for graduates wishing to turn their ideas into a global success?

  • Make sure you have a strong vision, and that you believe in and are enthusiastic about what you’re doing as this will always filter down into what you make.
  • It helps to love what you do as this will show in your work, and it’s much easier to do something you love than something you’re not passionate about.
  • Always try to stick to your own ideas. There’s nothing to be gained from mimicking others and people really value originality.

What was it like meeting the royal family when you received your MBE for services to fashion?

We actually met Prince Charles, he was great. We talked about jewellery and he asked Rosie if we were really still friends after all this time! It was an amazing day.

What is your proudest achievement?

Getting an MBE was definitely a very proud moment, we have been doing Tatty Devine for 15 years now and created something pretty special and I feel proud of what Rosie and I have created.  

I still feel proud when I see a stranger in the street wearing something that we made.