A St Helens mum-of-three who taught herself to make bespoke jewellery at home as a hobby while pregnant, is celebrating the launch of her first boutique.
Joanna Grygowska opened Polyanna Designs in Warrington’s Golden Square Shopping Centre after eight years of creating high-quality, handmade jewellery from home while her husband, a long distance lorry driver, was away.
The idea initially started when Joanna was pregnant with her son, Jan, now seven, and living in Denbigh.
She continued to perfect her craft during her second pregnancy with daughter Maria, now aged 4.
The 35-year-old, who also has an adopted daughter Izabella, 17, from her husband’s first marriage, was frustrated with the poor quality and unimaginative designs of the jewellery being sold on the internet.
She decided the best way of getting what she wanted was to make it herself, and bought some basic equipment.
Before long, however, she was inundated with orders from friends and family and began hosting parties selling her jewellery as Christmas presents.
Her confidence soon grew and she took the bold step of approaching carefully selected stockists with her designs, many which are made from Swarovski® elements.
With 30 stockists across the country now selling her designs – the furthest being in Northern Ireland – Joanna said the next logical step was opening her own boutique.
“My little girl is four now and started reception this year,” said Joanna, who now lives in Sutton, St Helens.
“I set a goal for myself two years ago to grow the company slowly until I was able to do something permanently. That goal was to either have lots more stockists or to open my own boutique.
“I don’t regret it for a minute. It’s not about wanting to become a millionaire. It’s about getting pleasure from something you enjoy doing and the personal experience of meeting the customers is what matters most to me.”
Joanna left her home country of Poland and arrived in the UK in 2005 after completing a masters’ degree in finance and banking.
Initially, she took unskilled jobs to pay the bills because she couldn’t speak any English.
“I took any job available to support myself and learn the language and over time I did,” she said.
Later, she took on a role as a support worker for vulnerable adults with mental health difficulties in Denbigh.
The family moved to St Helens and Joanna began working with Cheshire Fire Service Community Safety Team,
working in the community to help raise awareness about fire safety.
In her spare time she continued to nurture her creative side making luxury jewellery.
“I wanted to find something different for myself and was always disappointed with the quality of the jewellery I ordered,” she said.
“I thought ‘it can’t be that difficult to make it myself’. My passion was about creating something different.
“I’m completely self-taught and learnt by reading reviews. I didn’t even watch any internet videos because I wanted to experiment. I learnt by mistakes and it was a long journey.
“I made it all on the kitchen table. My husband, being a lorry driver, was away so I didn’t have any complaint about the mess. I was just trying to cope on my own.
“It was a hobby for about three years before I felt ready to take it to the next level. I was pregnant again (with youngest daughter Maria), and doing lots of jewellery parties for the feedback so I went to shops asking for their opinions and some of them took it on. It’s grown from there.”
The jewellery designer has since launched her own website to showcase her high-quality, unique jewellery.
Warrington Golden Square shopping centre director Ian Cox said: “Joanna’s jewellery is stylish, modern and sleek. I’m sure any woman would be proud to wear one of her pieces.
“We’re very pleased to have been able to help Joanna open her first boutique. Polyanna is a great addition to the jewellery selection available here at Golden Square.”
Joanna has two collections, one combining sterling or fine silver with semi-precious gem stones, and each item is a one-off, so customers can be sure no-one is wearing the same piece.
She also offers a bespoke service from the boutique, near to Schuh in Golden Square, where her customers can specify the kind of jewellery design they’re looking for.
The second collection features jewellery embellished with crystals from Swarovski.
The jewellery designer makes all of her creations herself at her studio in St Helens, but has employed a part-time sales assistant to help in the new boutique.
She was so busy preparing for the opening of her business that she was unable to make her own wedding jewellery last month - and bought a string of pearls instead.
“We were married in a registry office eight years ago but it has always been my dream to marry in church,” she said.
“I opened the boutique a month later on September 28 so to have two dreams come true in one month is just amazing, I’m over the moon.”
The shop is called Polyanna to represent her Polish heritage, and her first name – Joanna.
Joanna, who married at St Anne and Blessed Dominic Church in Sutton, St Helens, said many of her friends and original customers travelled from
Denbigh for the launch event of her boutique on October 1.
“I still have lots of customers from North Wales who support me,” she said.
“I’m very proud and satisfied. Everything I produce is made in Britain which means I can offer exceptional after sales care. Nothing has to be sent off to China, I’m just around the corner. I believe in treating people as you would want to be treated yourself.”
Polyanna stockists in North Wales include: Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph, and Baroque in Denbigh.
In the North West of England her designs are also available at Tyrers in Bridge Street, St Helens, Clarity in King Street, Knutsford, David Lawrence in Market Square, Oldham, Harriet & Dee in Didsbury, Guy Wakeling Jewellery in Preston, RA Designer Jewellery, and Colette Hazelwood Jewellery, both in Manchester’s Craft & Design Centre in Oak Street.