I would love you to meet Alison Dadley-Webb, the lady behind Tail End Jewellery. It was actually my Mum that found Alison's website online when she was looking for a special gift for onr of my birthdays. I was lucky enough to recieve a beautiful bracelet and necklace on my 21st made from Dolly's tail hair. They're such beautiful gifts, intricately made and are such treasured items.
"I live in Derbyshire with my 2 children and a menagerie of animals. I graduated from Nottingham University with a degree in Agricultural Science which led me into various very fulfilling roles within the animal nutrition and horse feed world. A break in my career however, led me to starting Tail End Jewellery, over 17 years ago, having seeing something similar some 20 years or so previously. At the time there was no one really doing this type of thing in the UK, since then more individuals have started similar work. I would like to think though that we have vastly more experience, knowledge and our products are different in style and certainly different in braiding type."
The hair is washed and then individual strands are taken from the hair provided by the owner and braided together. Honestly, the patience Alison must have is unreal because each peice of jewellery is so precise and perfect.
"Each of the jewellery designs can take several hours to make. This is because we don't just twist the hair, it is intricately braided, making it very strong, tough and robust. If you unfortunately snag a hair on an item, the whole thing won't unravel. For this reason we are proud to say we have customers wearing them 24/7 for many years. The majority of our products are also made using quality sterling silver or 9ct gold as we believe the hair is so very precious to the owner that the metal should be precious too."
There are designs to suit everyone, and if you have a particular request (such as ridicuosly small wrists!) Alison does her best to alter something to suit you. There are three metals to choose from: silver, gold and rose gold. Leather options are also available! The rose gold looks particularly stunning with hair from a chestnut horse! You can also add a variety of extra charms to your bracelets too. Like I said, there are so many options to choose from, I'm glad mine was a gift because I never would have been able to decide on which style!
"The business started initially as a part time business, but soon grew, so I left my career in the feed industry and focused full time on my jewellery business. Being self employed fitted around the children when they were small but it has its disadvantages too. When you love what you do and are passionate about it it very soon becomes a 24/7 job! We have a couple of part-time/extra hands when needed, staff, who are invaluable in keeping me sane!"
It's evident that Alison loves what she does and I share her pride when it comes to creating something that'll be treasured for years to come, in my case, photographs to remember a forever equine friend. When I opened up the boxes of samples to photograph with some of my friends, the other ladies on the yard huddled around and started picking out and "designing" what they'd have their peices like. Some were talking about combining hair from three of their horses whilst others eagerly started trying on the rings for size.
"I love what I do and feel very lucky to do a job I enjoy. It is an honour and privilege to be entrusted with what could be the last remains of a special equine friend. There is an immense pleasure in turning the hair into an item of jewellery that the customer can then tangibly touch, forever more, a little piece of their horse. To then get good feedback from them and know that I have bought a little happiness to what could be a sad time is priceless. Of course not all our customers have lost their horse, some just want to carry a little special piece about with them all the time, hence our tag line "Keep Your Horse Close To You."
There are so many beautiful pieces to choose from - rings, bracelets, necklaces, stock pins and so much more! There are so many ways to keep your horse close to you. I barely take my necklace off. Not only is it a perfect way to remember Dolly but it's also very pretty and can be worn "every day."
"I own a mischievous 14.3hh gelding called Seymour who is far too clever for his own good and my daughter has a welsh A called Dandy (but he gets called Diddles because he's so diddy and cute!) I also have 2 dogs who man the office and workshop door and are in charge of security. Arthur the cat who adopted us 5 years ago and was meant to be a yard cat but soon found his way into our affections and my sons bedroom! We also have Edwardo the duck who visits us in the office, waddles about and terrorises the dogs!"
I love looking at Alison's posts on instagram, I love the photos of Edwardo strutting through the kitchen or playing in a pool of water!
"My favourite product - oh thats a difficult one! I guess one of them has to be our Forever Heart Necklace which is our most popular piece too. This design came from the special request of a customer. The sterling silver hearts pieces are custom made for us and the process was a complex one of CAD designing, mould making, casting and checking. The end result though we feel is stunning and effective and last year we launched it in Rose Gold Vermeil too. So if anyone has an idea of something they would like that we don't currently do then just have a chat to us - we love a challenge!"
My Mum had secretly got one of my friends to snip some tail hair from Dolly - she had a lot of hair so there was plenty to give without me even noticing! And in fact, I hadn't - it was a total suprise. I was then determined to find out who was in on the suprise!
"I am also loving the new 2017 collection that is slowly being revealed - there are some totally new ideas in there and I hope I can finally nail the last design - one that I have dreamed of doing for a few years but is proving a little tricky!"
Tail End Jewellery can also be found on Instagram and Twitter!