Close to the Edge – DJ Turned Jeweller Jenny Huston

Feelings of intrusion are put at ease when our interview with Jenny Huston of Edge Only is rescheduled to 7.45pm on a Friday night. “I’m just glad to hear that I’m not the only workaholic around,” says Huston, brushing our apologies for delaying her weekend. “There is just always something else to do.” From polishing to replenishment, Huston positions herself, proudly, in the thick of her business. But that’s hardly a surprise. With one prolific career already behind her, we would expect nothing less from the DJ-turned-designer as she embarks on her latest venture.

“I think it’s something I picked up through osmosis.” Jenny, who was born and raised in Canada, was brought to Ireland via family ties in the mid ’90s. Her mother, a designer, goldsmith and gemologist, took up a position with the Design and Crafts Council Ireland, and Jenny followed her over, but did not follow suit.

“Growing up around jewellery, the industry is second nature to me,” explains Huston. While it may have been second nature, it was not a natural progression for her. On her arrival to Ireland, Huston, who had completed her degree in psychology at the University of Victoria, studied Art Administration at UCD. It was here that she first developed her taste for the radio, broadcasting from the university’s own station.

“I got really lucky,” Huston recounts her start in radio. With a slot on the then-pirate station, Phantom FM, already under her belt, Huston was just four shows into a stint on 2FM when she was offered a full-time position at the station. “I never thought it would be possible to play records for a living. It was the best job.”

While luck may have been her starting point, the success that followed were well-earned. “I began making guest appearances on the Gerry Ryan show. We both had backgrounds in psychology so we hit it off.” This mutual interest lead to Huston becoming a regular on the show, elevating her career further. Television work followed, and so did a book, In Bloom: Irish Bands Now. Huston became a household name on the Irish music scene.

Listeners tuned into Jenny Huston for over nine years on 2FM before she announced her departure. “Getting paid to play music was a dream come true, but I just couldn’t see a future in it”. Leaving the station behind, but not the industry, Jenny ventured into a role as a music supervisor and it was there, through a rather cheeky request of her jeweller mother, that she found her way into design.

 

Initially more of a prompt than a great ambition, Jenny formed Edge Only. “I had drawn up a large list of designs from my mother, a ring I wanted, a necklace, and a few pieces more”. Her mother’s response was one of fond familiarity. She told her daughter to do it herself. And so she did.

“My sketches were, and still are, really rough. I’m not much of an artist, but I knew what I wanted.” Growing up around it, Huston developed a deep appreciation for jewellery but found it didn’t always fit in with her lifestyle. “I am a bit of a tomboy, a t-shirt and jeans girl. I always adored the jewellery my mother gave me”. Unfortunately, the designer found that high-end fine jewellery didn’t work that well when interviewing the likes of The Arctic Monkeys. “It came across a little too conservative and the cooler stuff was exclusive to the high-street and fast fashion.” Sick of this so-called “junk jewellery”, Huston set about creating a fine jewellery that slotted into the everyday. The result is Edge Only.

A brand created for men and women, the luxury label’s first collection was The Rock’n’Roll collection. Unsurprising, given Huston’s background, Edge Only began as a series of solid gold and silver pieces modelled on shapes and symbols with edge, with none more edgy (or more popular) than the Lightning Bolt, a piece which remains, to this day, a best-seller for the brand. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Bowie fan, or an AC/DC fan, the lightning bolt represents music. People love it”. Clearly inspired by her former career, we asked about other reactions she had had from the counterparts in the music world she had left behind.

“The support from friends was mind-blowing actually, really encouraging,” Huston warmly informs us. “At the time I didn’t have a network within the fashion industry, but figured, I like them, my friends like them, there might be something there.” With this in mind she headed to London. “There is something about selling internationally that makes people at home pay a little bit more attention,” speaking about introduction of Edge Only to the Irish market. “People recognise that it’s been successful elsewhere and are therefore a bit more open to it”.

The work has been well-received and well-supported, and Edge Only’s designs are found in some of Ireland’s favourite boutiques right now. But what of the designer? How does she hold her own in her new surroundings? “There was definitely that fraudulent feeling at the start. I had designed the pieces, had built the brand, but then realised, in my first interview, that, I had no idea how to explain it, no idea how to articulate the design process.” With nine and half years of radio under her belt, it is hard to imagine Huston lost for words but thankfully it was merely momentary lapse, and since its 2014 launch both the designer and her brand have truly found their voice.

Edge Only is stocked in [MADE] Store & Gallery, Powerscourt Townhouse, 59 South William Street, Dublin 2 and online at edgeonly.com

Words: Sinéad O’Reilly

Comments

  • (will not be published)