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About the Unexpected Boutique

The Unexpected Boutique is run by me, Helen, and I design and make the majority of the jewellery myself, with occasional contributions from my sister, Nicolar.

I’ve been making jewellery from found objects since 2005 – starting with buttons, and gradually incorporating more different components into the pieces.

The online shop is home to an eclectic collection of jewellery made with anything and everything that I can turn into jewellery, with a focus on using unusual items which are not normally associated with jewellery, and also re-using parts from old and broken jewellery made with more traditional materials such as beads.

The Unexpected Boutique is a completely independent micro-business, run from my home in County Durham, where I make and photograph all the jewellery, edit my website, and package and post out everyone’s orders. When you buy from this site, you’re directly supporting a small, independent UK-based business.

I also have a specialist button jewellery site, and a craft blog.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me (in case you haven’t guessed, I’m also the customer services department…)

About this Website

This site is hosted in Iceland, and the server runs on renewable geothermal energy. Yay!

I made the website myself by typing code into a text editor. I'm not a full-time professional web developer so it's not an all-singing-all-dancing wonder, but I learnt HTML in 1998 (smatterings of CSS and PHP followed in subsequent years) and have been more or less continually making websites for my various endeavours since creating my first personal homepage in the school library when I was supposed to be revising for a physics test. Just not very complicated ones, because none of them needed to be very complicated.

The site is simple, and to the best of my knowledge it works - and as I wrote every line of code except for the PayPal buttons and the photo gallery, I'm confident that it will work right, and that if there's a problem I know exactly how to fix it. I've tried more "modern" website environments (Wordpress, Shopify etc.) and just found them bloated, opaque, full of third-party privacy-invading tracking scripts, and not as easily customisable as my own one. So after a bit of experimentation I went back to the one I built. (I have also tried, in general life, owning various smartphones, and returned to my faithful twelve-year-old Nokia 1100 for similar reasons. Yes, I am that person.)

However, some users may find the website a little old-fashioned in the following ways:

  • There are some options for jewellery customisation that you can't just select from a menu when you order - if something says "get in touch" it means you'll need to send me an email and ask for it. My email address is on the contact page . I am rarely away from my emails for more than about 8 hours (I have to sleep, you see...) so you should get a prompt response.

  • The shopping cart is hosted entirely by PayPal. When you click "add to cart" or "view cart" it will open a new browser tab or window for the cart. The shopping cart doesn't look like the rest of the website - it's PayPal's own design. I've done it this way because coding a shopping cart is rather more complex than the rest of the website, and PayPal are considerably better able to keep on top of things than I am. Very occasionally they have a bit of a blip, but in any case if you're having an trouble using the website payments system, the easiest thing is to email me, as there are various other ways you can pay (bespoke PayPal invoice, bank transfer or cheque).

  • If you pay with a PayPal account, you may not be asked for your shipping address - it will use whatever address is attached to that account. If you need your order shipped elsewhere, that's fine - just send me an email and let me know where it needs to go.

tl;dr: just imagine it's 2005.