Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your company?
I’m Sarah Freeman – the founder of Sassalina, a bespoke fine jewellery company that offers unique, hand-made pieces and was born from a life-long passion for jewellery and gems. Based in London, I source locally or internationally and advise on any coloured gemstones, white and coloured diamonds and natural or cultured pearls to offer our clients a selection with no limitations. I believe that truly exceptional jewellery should be a perfect reflection of who you are and I love to make that happen for my clients.
As a teenager, my parents encouraged me to design jewellery incorporating inherited gems and I still wear these pieces today. I believe if the bespoke design perfectly suits the style of the wearer, the jewellery will be timeless and the memories held within the piece very powerful.
After having my children, I was determined to have a second career based on my passion. I started by attending holiday courses at Central St Martin’s in jewellery making. Knowledge of making is essential to design, however quite quickly I knew I wanted to become a specialist in stones. In 2008, I returned to full time study and become a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. I have also attended GIA courses in jewellery drawing. I have been designing for myself since 1983 and for clients since 2006.
How does your Designated PA help you on a day to day basis?
Rebecca (and before her Abi), is an integral part in keeping me ticking over with my banking, paperwork and invoicing. I trust Rebecca to quickly turn around all aspects of my admin and keep me on track. Even though Designated PA offers a virtual service, Rebecca occasionally comes to my office to physically support me in the time-consuming task of filing and stock taking.
Rebecca has a natural understanding of client service and business development and is helping with creating business analysis data which I hope to use to fulfil my strategic goals. I like having a virtual PA, for its flexibility and immediacy of help when I’m pushed to my limit…It does take time to learn how to use Rebecca’s skills effectively and I’m sure I still have a long way to go to unleash her real potential!!
What is a typical working day like for you?
My typical day is never dull… co-ordinating Sassalina, three teenage children, a Spanish water dog, two cats, tropical fish, a thoroughbred horse, plus my husband who works in private equity is a logistical feat. Someone said to me once that every day of my life is like a whole film…. However, it’s the variety I thrive on and within the business I adore working with my clients just as much as working with gem stone dealers and highly skilled jewellery makers.
I travel all over London to meet with clients or they meet me at my club in Covent garden or in my offices in Hatton garden…it is important that we spend time together so I have a real sense of my client’s priorities and style, sometimes this can take several meetings before the piece is agreed….I love talking gemstones and I have some clients who are frustrated gemologists, I tend to find introducing clients to gems they have never heard of is a really important factor as to why they work with me. The design tends to develop after we have identified the stone or stones my client has chosen. For me, the design should be timeless with the gemstone always featuring as the main event.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
Not following the pack, 99% of jewellery brands create a range and sell via retail or the web – with the aim of developing their bespoke design range…. I did the opposite. I created a brand which delivers a high end, one to one luxury service focused entirely on meeting my client’s needs…I’m often told this type of service is not easy to find!
What success do you still strive for?
My business is already successful, however, I don’t like to stand still and I am looking forward to joining an entrepreneurial programme this year to work with other female business owners, exploring ways to expand without following the pack.
What motivates you?
I am very proud of the business I have grown over the last 11 years solely through word of mouth. I am a perfectionist and I just can’t compromise on the quality of the finished product, my aim is always to exceed my client’s expectation and ideally to make them cry as they are so overwhelmed with joy. Often this does happen and it is such a fabulous feeling which makes it a great motivator for me.
Who inspires you and why?
Any person who has overcome adversity to make a good life for themselves.
Advice you would give to others?
If you are finding it hard to understand what a client wants- sometimes listen to what they are not saying- often I find it’s the key to the solution.
What would you not leave the house without?
My Smythson leather bound diary, it literally contains my entire life. It’s my little luxury that keeps me on track.
What would you not fly without?
As I have spent 28 years flying back and forth from Australia I do have a real routine to long haul flying- a pashmina, my own soft eye mask, nytol, rehydrating face cream and hypromellose eye drops (as my eyes dehydrate) …it’s 100% brilliant..
Things you buy in bulk?
Everything…. I’m not mad about shopping, therefore if it is a product I like I will always buy several…even shoes, pens, handbags, folders, dresses…but always in a variety of colour. Hence the “dolly” collection of earrings… a very flexible hoop earring that the drops adapt and change to match all outfits and colours, easy to travel with too.
An amazing fact about Sarah Freeman?
I recently got my power boating handling license…. who doesn’t like a bit of speed and power in their hands?
Favourite restaurant and why?
Ciullo’s in Balham, a relaxed and traditional style of local Italian restaurant which our family of five all love to eat at…lots of great memories for us.
Preferred way to spend Sunday afternoon?
In my dream world, I would spend every weekend sailing on a catamaran with my husband and three kids in a warm location, glass of champagne in hand and all of us singing at the top of our lungs.
– Sarah Freeman, Founder of Sassalina
For more information about Sassalina and bespoke fine jewellery, visit the Sassalina website.
Designated PA would like to thank Sarah Freeman for taking the time out of a busy schedule to talk to us.
If you too want to see how we can help you and your business succeed contact our team today