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Nature & Mental Health Jewellery With Lost Kove

Today is all about starting a conversation about mental health...

We are thrilled to chat to Mike from Lost Kove Jewellery, who creates designs focused around nature and mental health. Mike opens up about his struggles of mental health and tells us how he hopes his handmade jewellery will help open up the conversation about this topic, while also giving advice to those who may be struggling too. Being a self taught jeweller, Mike decided to grab some tools and get making - and he hasn't looked back since! Find out more about Mike's new business venture below.

Hi Mike, please tell us about your jewellery business Lost Kove Jewellery

Hey! So Lost Kove is a very new but exciting idea I had. I’m really new to making Jewellery, I haven’t done any courses or classes yet and have learnt everything I know from just trying different materials and techniques on my own.

I’ve wanted to have my own business for ages just never really knew exactly what I wanted it to be.

Now I’ve given jewellery making a try I’m completely hooked and I’m really excited to see where I can take it, especially with all these ideas I’m having. I always knew that what ever I ended up doing I wanted it to try and benefit those who are struggling with mental health issues as it's a subject thats very close to my heart. As is nature and I wanted to combine the two and Lost Kove is what I come up with.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

In a nutshell Lost Kove is inspired by nature and how it can help with mental health issues. Its a subject that’s so important. I have been diagnosed with severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Intrusive thoughts (Pure O), Severe anxiety, Hyper vigilance and depression they all kind of work together to create a really hard time and what I hate the most is knowing there’s other people out there struggling, whether they’ve been diagnosed or not, because theres so many people who have the same struggles as me but don’t actually know what it is; and thats mind blowing!

Therapy has really helped me along side medication, although I’m not completely cured I’m so much better! The right therapy is amazing and meds can also help but I want to promote the fact that getting out in nature can really help your mind too, whether its something as small as going for a walk in the woods or something more extreme like a surf session. These can really help calm you down and generally make you feel better, it does help me all the time and I just thought that was quite a cool message to go with jewellery to inspire the wearer.

"I want my customers to wear things that are personal to them as a little reminder to be strong, keep fighting, keep exploring, to be kind to yourself or to celebrate yourself or something you love. Each piece I make should make people feel different it’s personal to them..."

lost kove mental health jewellery

How did you first discover jewellery making?

I’ve always loved jewellery and I don’t know any other guys who own as much of it as I do but I’ve never known how a lot of it was made. I just kind of accepted it was cool and clever and assumed I’d never be able to do it myself. 

However last year my intrigue got the better of me and I started to research what jewellery tools and equipment would be needed and how very basic things could be made. To my surprise I found that with a few tools and raw material I could make a lot of cool things from home so I did just that and have been learning and trying new things ever since.

Tell us about your designs and the meaning behind them

So far I’ve concentrated heavily on my bead charms and that’s because I love how they can be used for multiple styles of jewellery. You can wear them on a chainleather bracelet, bangle or rope. I just love how making one bead can give my customers quite a lot of choice. They are also minimalistic and simple and I love the designs I put on some of them and I’m currently designing custom stamps for future beads.

Each charm bead has its own small meaning to it whether its mental health related, nature related or just a fun quirky word or message. I’ve also recently started doing personalised ones on request.

"When people see your jewellery it could be a great conversation starter and isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing, starting conversations on mental health?"

How would you like your jewellery to help others?

Most of the jewellery people wear has a sentimental value as well as just something to look good on. I want my customers to wear things that are personal to them as a little reminder to be strong, keep fighting, keep exploring, to be kind to yourself or to celebrate yourself or something you love. Each piece I make should make people feel different it’s personal to them.

Tell us how you achieve the patina on your charms

When I first started as a complete novice I was using enamel ink on my designs but I found that this did not last long and would start to disappear pretty quickly, so I started to use a standard patina oxidising solution. I just let my beads sit in the solution until they turn black then I continue to remove it but making sure I leave it in text or designs with grit paper or emery sticks. This process lasts so much longer!

How do you want people to feel when they wear your designs?

When people wear the pieces that are directly aimed at mental health I want them to feel strong and proud. I know some people don’t want to tell the world about they’re struggles and thats completely understandable! I used to want to keep it a secret and still sometimes do but recently I have found it makes things better to be open about it. It not only helps others to talk about it but it also allows you to take some power back and share the weight you’re holding. 

When people see your jewellery it could be a great conversation starter and isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing, starting conversations on mental health? As for the more nature themed pieces I just want them to be a reminder to return to it as much as possible. Take a break from tech, work or social media and go and immerse yourself in nature or whatever you love and feel better!

Another creative you’re loving at the moment?

She’s not a jeweller but I have to say no matter how cheesy it sounds one of my favourite creatives is my partner, Crystal. She has an Etsy shop, Willow And Fray selling baby ultrasound scans all hand embroidered, as well as baby name hoops and wedding bouquets. Plus she’s a blogger and a great photographer.

I’m not massively into embroidery but what I love about her creativity so much is she just does it! I seem to have an idea, dwell on it for 6 months and eventually talk myself out of it because its too hard or impractical, whereas she has an idea and half hour later she’s done it. She doesn’t care what other people think, she doesn’t compare her work to others, she just produces. I could learn a lot from her and always do.

How has being open about your mental health helped you?

I hate feeling vulnerable, it makes my anxiety hit the roof so up to recently I kept a lot of it to myself. However recently I’ve found that doesn’t always work. I remember some of my most darkest days I would frantically search the internet desperate to find someone that would relate to the problems I was facing and eventually I found stories written by random people on Mental health / OCD forums and I remember sometimes being reduced to tears of joy in my van at work that I had finally found someone who was struggling the way I was.

Obviously I wasn’t happy they were struggling, I was just so happy that I wasn’t the only person on this planet to be experiencing such darkness and it compelled me to get in touch with these strangers to talk about it and try and find some sort of solution. Recently I finished a group therapy course. I was so hesitant to join it because I seriously thought that I needed one on one help and that there surely couldn’t be anyone as bad as me but to my surprise I found everyone at the course to be exactly like me and it was like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. The feeling was immense and I’d walk out of therapy each week feeling like a king.

The point of this story is that it was those people opening up and being vulnerable that helped me it was people opening up online that gave me hope and it was my vulnerability during therapy sessions that encouraged other people to speak and we all kind of helped each other to normalise our problems. Speaking out and opening up is so scary I always imagine the worst case scenarios like friends ditching me or people gossiping about me but honestly if I don’t open up I’m going to feel selfish because it was other people opening up and being brave that put me in the right direction to get the help I needed.

When you’re not making jewellery, what are you mostly likely doing?

Being with my beautiful family, working my main job as an Electrician, down the pub with friends and dreaming about surfing.

What do you think we can all do to help break the stigma behind mental health?

They may or may not already be starting but I really think schools should be actively preparing young people. Educating them about mental health is really important because it has no boundaries and it does not discriminate. I used to think I was mentally sound and that proved wrong as I got older. It can happen to anyone at any time regardless of background, gender or race etc.

People need to be aware of what they can do if they start to struggle and for the people that don’t struggle, they need to be able to spot the signs of other people struggling and know what to do or what not to do. Another thing we can do is to just continue to normalise it by speaking openly on social media, tv , radio, whatever it doesn’t matter it just needs to be spoken about like a normal everyday subject rather than something to be afraid of. Perhaps even semi-compulsory health checks every few years might help.

What’s your favourite design right now and why?

My favourite design isn’t my best piece of work but it's something I did personally for me. I made myself a ring that says “F**k The Bully” on it. Excuse my bad language but there is a reason behind it. Basically my therapist told myself and my group that our illness is an invisible bully that no-one else can see or hear. He whispers lies into our ears to convince us we’re something we’re not or that we may have done something wrong.

I’ve got a lot of experience with this bully and everything my therapist taught us about it helped me so much. The ring I made for myself sits on my hand there constantly reminding me to ignore the bully and to not give in to the hard work I’ve put in to destroy him. It's a personal design and it really helps.

How has being creative helped you?

Being creative helps on a nightly basis. I basically finish work, come home play with my daughter, then she goes to bed and I get cracking. It keeps me focused and calm and and gives me something to work on rather than watching TV, drinking beer and overthinking.

Tell us about your connection to Cornwall

I visit Cornwall a lot because I love it so much! My partner lived there for years and that's how we met and since having our daughter all we have been trying to do is move there. It appears quite hard to find the right job and move my family there right now but I’m checking for updates daily and I know that it will happen! Hopefully my jewellery business will help with that one day.

Can we expect any new products or exciting projects from Lost Kove Jewellery any time soon?

I’m always looking at future ideas and recently I’ve become obsessed with the idea of doing lost wax casting jewellery with sterling silver. I love what I’ve seen and I’m definitely preparing to give it a go. Other than that I’m continuously trying to perfect my current work. I like the stuff I do but I know it can be better so I’m always practising as I know I’m still new to this and practise only makes perfect right?

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with their mental health right now?

Thats a good one! Ok, so I’m very stubborn and at times too proud. Therefore I left it far too late to get help. I was in denial and I got noticeably worse every single day. My advise is simple. Don’t always assume you're going to get past it alone. That’s a really nice idea and everyone wants to feel strong but sometimes you’re struggling so much you can’t see the cure.

Also specific to my problems I thought I was going insane, I thought I was beyond help and that really put me off opening up to anyone even professionals and what I didn’t know was that my condition was very common and fixable. If I had known that from the beginning I would have got help quicker and I wouldn’t have got as bad. To anyone that is struggling, please talk to friend, family or anyone you trust but don’t stop there please do not feel ashamed about going to a professional because they do know what they are talking about and they are highly trained in this area and if you find the right professional they actually genuinely care and got into that line of work because they care.

Things can get better. I am evidence of that. I was so so so bad, my life was barely a life and things were seriously dark and yet now I’m on the mend. Not perfect but working on it. Please ask for help you’ll be so surprised at the little judgement and the amount of help you can get and you’ll thank yourself in the future. Things can get better if you let them I promise! If anyone out there is hesitating right now, message me. I’m not a professional but I promise I’ll respond and I promise I’ll listen with zero judgement!

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