An abusive relationship left Renee seeking a new path. She embarked on a spiritual journey and developed a range of jewellery using crystals with healing properties. Here, she talks family, work and spirituality…
Renee Johnson lives in Ipswich, Suffolk, with her partner Michael and two daughters: Poppy, 10, Ida-Rose, seven
What is your home like?
Our home is very simple, filled with crystals and plants, and has a bohemian, relaxed and chilled feel; it’s filled with love. On most days it smells like sage, palo santo wood or homemade food. My lovely other half is now building me a healing space at the end of our garden, which will allow me to separate some of my work from family life.
You started out as a stylist, what made you take the plunge and start up your own business?
I felt that working for another company confined my creativity as ultimately I had their style to work with and guidelines to adhere to. I was also looking for an opportunity to support my family that gave me the freedom to be there for my children when they needed me. Working for myself, there are no limits on my creativity and I was able to explore various avenues before deciding to concentrate on jewellery.
How did you come up with the idea for IDA jewellery?
To be really honest, it was after I had separated from my husband and because of what I experienced in the relationship that I decided it was time for things to change and for me to take the bull by its horns and steer my life in a positive direction.
One day I sat in my living room, contemplating what it was I was going to do with the rest of my life. I got a pen and piece of paper and drew a spider diagram, in the middle I wrote IDA and off that I listed everything I wanted to achieve. Funnily enough, I found it the other day – three years later – and everything I had listed on there I have achieved.
I knew something had energetically shifted within me and crystal jewellery was something that could be worn and look beautiful while healing at the same time, and I wanted to share that.
Follow your heart: think about what your heart desires; what makes your soul sing – and do that
Can you explain your products to us?
I’m selling a look and lifestyle with love, healing and spirituality at its core. I have various collections; some I have designed myself and others I source to suit the style I am creating at the time. All my pieces are made with love and care by skilled silversmiths.
How is it, running a business while looking after two children?
It is obviously very hectic and challenging at times as I cannot always dictate when the girls will need me or when the business will, however my partner Michael is very supportive and we generally manage to get everything done between us – one way or another.
Does work feed into life and the other way around, and is this a positive thing?
My children love to see what I am creating; they are so interested in all of it. I hope this inspires them to believe that they can create or be capable of doing anything in this lifetime.
Our house is generally a really positive place to be and we always encourage one another. It’s strange because I feel that my family life and my work life have merged into a beautiful communion of love.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Ever since I was a little girl I have been creating, whether it’s drawing designs of clothes, jewellery, creating art, painting – it’s something that just flows within me and what I create in reality is sometimes a dream I have had, a vision from a meditation or an emotion.
I am constantly researching and looking on the internet and through books to see what catches my eye and what styles are relevant at that moment in time. Most of my inspiration comes from the spiritual journey I am on.
What’s been most challenging about setting up shop?
From a spiritual point of view, staying positive and believing in myself have been challenging at times, but being more practical: controlling the finances and managing the ‘business’ side of things have been duties which I had no experience of and I’ve had to learn new skills.
And in what ways has it freed you?
As The Soup Dragons said: “I’m free to do what I want any old time”. I’m able to be there for my girls if they need me. I guess it’s freedom in every sense of the word, I don’t have to answer to anyone, report anywhere at a certain time or conform to the life we are led to believe we should strive for.
When did your spiritual journey begin, and why?
When I separated from my husband at the time, I had hit rock bottom; it had been a very mentally and sometimes physically abusive marriage, which left me physically and emotionally drained and exhausted.
I was feeling tired, dizzy, stressed and lacking in energy, emotional and was actually worried about my health, I felt as though I was falling apart. I went to the doctors and they prescribed me anti-depressants, which I took for one year.
I slowly realised that taking these tablets wasn’t the answer to my problems and if I wanted to get better I would have to look within myself to find the reasons as to why I felt this way. Being at the lowest point I had ever sunk to, I began looking for answers from a spiritual point of view.
Alongside being a mother, jewellery maker and stylist, you’re a reiki healer. In what ways does this enrich your life?
I cannot stress enough how blessed I am to have reiki in my life, it has healed me and I am now able to heal other people.
What is most important to you in life?
Love. If you show up each day with love and kindness in your heart, the universe will give you back what you deserve.
What advice do you have for other creatives looking to branch out on their own?
My advice would be to follow your heart, think about what your heart desires; what makes your soul sing – and do that. Once you do something you love everything else will fall into place.