Ruth Leslie – 2019 Graduate

Ruth (@ruth_lessly) was one of the six graduates at Goldsmiths’ Fair 2019. We spoke to Ruth earlier this year about her experience at the fair and what it meant to be awarded a graduate bursary.

How many years had you been graduated when you exhibited in 2019?

I graduated 4 years prior to exhibiting.

How did you find the scheme helpful for your practice?

I would have massively struggled to partake in the fair had I not managed to get on the graduate scheme. This is mainly to do with the financial side of it – the free stand and ÂŁ1,500 grant to help create work for the fair made participating actually an option for me. I may not have been able to afford it otherwise. The training sessions were invaluable not only for the practical business training, but for building relationships with the Goldsmiths’ Fair team, Goldsmiths’ Centre staff and other graduates.

This made my experience when arriving on the first day of the fair much less daunting and overwhelming (although hard to escape that entirely).

Having other new exhibitors in the same boat is essentially relaxing and lessens the ‘imposter syndrome’ feeling. Getting to know the Goldsmiths’ Fair team also had this effect – you are actual, genuine people who want to help. Not scary creatures! 🙂

Which aspect of the Graduate Scheme support did you feel was most valuable to you and your business?

Access to the Goldsmiths’ Fair team

Do you feel that your client base has grown as a result of the Fair? If so how?

Absolutely. Not only did I make a good amount of sales, I had commissions to do post fair, which lead to further conversations and relationships with these people (one of whom had already purchased a neckpiece of mine from Collect, and was looking for matching earrings)… This also applies to fellow exhibitors/staff, as some were very positive about my work and some even bought some things!

Earring by Ruth Leslie

Do you feel the exposure at the Fair will help progress your business? If so how?

I think so. As above, it’s already expanded my client base but the Fair also put my work on the radar of other galleries/stockists/businesses. I am now taking part in LOOT at the MAD Museum in New York due to showing at Goldsmiths’ – the curator saw my work there. 

What are your plans going forward with your business?

Stay motivated. Keep making work that I am proud of. I’m constantly rethinking how I want to present my business, however taking part in (applying to) Goldsmiths’ will be a continual endeavour. I would like to do regular shows like the Fair, but try to be more selective so I’m not killing myself. I would ideally like to be able to have my business as my main source of income, working to small scale production, so there is limited waste/excess and I can continue to be as sustainable as possible. 

Does working with retailers / selling your work wholesale appeal to you?

Yes but only on small scale/limited batch production. It is guaranteed money and less of a ‘gamble’. I always want to be the main designer and maker of my work… although one day maybe there could be a few small hands on deck…

Will you be applying to exhibit at Goldsmiths’ Fair in 2020?


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