Killarney Heights resident Kate Sutton may have started Uberkate in a garage, but it quickly became an Instagram sensation. Now she’s opened her first Sydney store – and it’s every bit as stunning as you would imagine…
It was in a suburban garage 17 years ago that the Northern Beaches’ own Kate Sutton first had the spark of an idea. Like so many great entrepreneurial stories, Uberkate was born in a time of adversity. “I was working as a TV producer at Channel 9 and the show that I was working on was cancelled. I had a six-month-old baby and times were tough. Jewellery making was my happy place – I’d been making stuff for friends for years,” says Kate.
Armed with the knowledge gleaned from a silver smithing evening course at a local Community College, Kate used any time she had to tap away at her anvil in her garage and create beautiful pieces. With the backing of her partner Adam, Kate took the leap of faith and decided to follow her passion and create a full-time business.
The Ubercircle piece was Kate’s first major foray into the jewellery market. The silver circle, engraved with the names of children or other loved ones, quickly became a phenomenon. “Nobody was really doing personalisation at the time and I seemed to have hit on something that really resonated with people,” remarks Kate. The stunning piece, favoured by new mums all over the world, has turned Uberkate into one of Australia’s most recognisable and successful jewellery brands.
Despite launching to great success, it’s certainly not been smooth sailing the whole way for Kate. Within a couple of years the first copycats started appearing. Cheaply made overseas copies were flooding the market within a few days of Kate’s designs appearing on her website. “I lost my confidence a little bit. I didn’t want to be a one trick pony and had to fight to find a way to make my business work.” A journey of discovery led Kate to Hong Kong and a new love affair with gemstones. With her passion reignited she realised it was time for a bricks and mortar store and found the perfect place in Sydney that was a central location for her many fans. The Uberkate flagship store – aptly named House of U – landed last month in the leafy suburb of Willoughby.
“It’s such a fabulous place for our business. We’re within easy reach of our customers from all over Sydney and parking is not difficult. I’ve had prior connections to the area, since working at Channel 9,” says Kate. The beautiful store is a homage to all things sparkling. With a firm nod to the building’s heritage, the showroom has an opulent art deco vibe, bringing a real injection of glamour to the Willoughby Road strip. “The Ubercircle was perfect for an online business but with the gemstone jewellery our customers were wanting to take a look and feel before buying,” noticed Kate.
She now employs 11 local people in her business (and one much-loved New Zealand interloper) and the Willoughby showroom is dedicated to creating a beautiful customer experience. “We’ve really been concentrating on cocktail jewellery. I did some research into the history of the cocktail ring – they were often bought by women themselves rather than by men for them. This was something that really spoke to me,” says Kate.
Personalisation is still a strong theme at Uberkate, there are stunning pieces using handwritten script that Kate is able to engrave on them. “People come in looking for a certain colour or piece but they leave with a connection. And we keep our prices affordable so that a beautiful piece of jewellery is attainable.”
Feature image: Kate Sutton at her Willoughby flagship store