Five Minutes With… Bardot Boho | Living North

Five Minutes With… Bardot Boho


Shelagh Dixon
We caught up with the founder of new Harrogate-based e-jewellers Bardot Boho, Shelagh Dixon, to find out about her mission to protect our planet – one bracelet at a time
'I believe in ‘slow-fashion’, so that when you treat yourself or a loved one, you know it’s not going into landfill after a couple of wears.'

Tell us about your background. 
I am the youngest of five children with Irish parents, and went to Notre Dame Girls High School in Headingly. I remember having to wear a boring grey school uniform, so whenever my friends and I had the chance, we would add jewellery and accessories to brighten it up. We had to avoid the very strict headmistress though!

What sparked your interest in jewellery?  
Travel and adventures. I love going to new places and losing myself in local markets. My greatest finds and most treasured pieces are often handmade by locals in unique places. I love to support local artisans – it not only helps them to make a living from their learned craft (which is often passed down from generations), but also helps communities prosper.

How did the idea for your own online jewellery store come about? 
I had a very pivotal birthday and realised that if I was going to make my dream a reality, the time was now. So I used all my savings to launch Bardot Boho in November last year. I have a lifelong love of all the earth’s creatures, so my business is named after the animal rights activist and global icon, Brigitte Bardot. I love the idea that I can combine my love of boho jewellery with my passion for helping animals.

Tell us about the environmental side to your business. 
I have partnered with SETU – a charity helping disadvantaged people get into employment – to create a range of ‘Bracelets to Change our World’. There are three bracelets in the range which have been hand-made under fair-trade practices by local marginalised artisans in Chennai. With each bracelet sold, we will plant a tree in the rainforest in support of The Orangutan Project to replenish lost habitat due to deforestation. Every customer receives a map of exactly where their tree will be planted, along with a certificate to commend their vital support.

What made you want to make a difference? 
I saw a news broadcast around 25 years ago which showed the clearing of trees in the rainforest and the aftermath for the orangutans – displaced, disoriented and beaten down. Orangutans share 97 percent of our DNA, so that image of them being ripped from their habitat will stay with me forever. I think everyone has a desire to help and do something to heal our world, which has been highlighted recently with the fires and devastating effects on wildlife in Australia.

What sort of products are on offer at Bardot Boho?
Modern, chic, bohemian-style jewellery. I believe in ‘slow-fashion’, so that when you treat yourself or a loved one, you know it’s not going into landfill after a couple of wears. We use biodegradable packaging, 100 percent organic cotton keep-sake bags and compostable shipping bags. 

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
The people that I have met and the connections I’ve made. Finding like-minded people who love our planet and animals, and wish to make a difference, has been truly humbling. It’s heart-warming to know that the power of people can force change and it gives me great hope for our future.

And the lowlight?
It’s always hard to start a business from scratch as many obstacles get in the way. But I would say the lowlight is not acting sooner – I wish I had done this years ago. 

Where do you see Bardot Boho in 10 years time? 
I would love to expand my ‘Bracelets to Change our World’ range and I’m already in talks with SETU over new styles. I have also connected with several local businesses in North Yorkshire as potential stockists, so I aim to plant at least 1,000 trees this year. 

Finish these sentences. The most famous person I’ve met is…
Barbara Streisand – in a lift in John Sacks Department Store in New York. I really wanted to start singing ‘Memories’ to see if she would join in [laughs]. 

I couldn’t live without…
My toe rings and anklets.

My favourite team is…
Ireland’s rugby team – they get the blood pumping for sure!

My favourite food is…
Mexican or anything vegan. I could live off guacamole. 

My favourite drink is…
A frozen Margherita. 

What or who would you say is your greatest love?  
My husband Simon. He is by my side every step of the way. 

And your greatest fear? 
That we cannot reverse the damage we have already done to our beautiful planet. I imagine I’m not alone with that one.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? 
My border terrier Erin. She stands on my hair and puts her paw on my head to wake me up! 

If you could give a budding entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be? 
Do it now, don’t wait. I can’t emphasise this enough – I wish I had the confidence years ago to start Bardot Boho, it’s changed my life. 

Published in: January 2020

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