On & Around the Street

Jeweller Anabela Chan On Life In Lockdown And Her Favourite Local Spots

We spoke to Anabela Chan, fine jeweller and winner of the Walpole Brand of Tomorrow 2020 Award, about surviving lockdown, painting for pleasure and her favourite neighbourhood destinations…

Anabela painting in her garden

HOW WAS THE FIRST LOCKDOWN FOR YOU?

It was a good opportunity to slow down a bit. I haven’t been in the city for longer than two months at a time since I was 10 year’s old and in recent years I’ve been travelling every month or two for work. My last trip was to Los Angeles for the Oscars in February but the upside is that I feel much stronger and healthier now.

I think I was a bit overworked at the beginning of the year. I adopted a better routine, with more restful nights and made time for myself. We were also eating better because we were cooking every meal we ate and really thought about nutrition.

During lockdown, our main focus at work was on philanthropic projects, different ways to support our community both locally and afar, which has always been an important ethos of our brand. One of the initiatives was our NHS Gratitude Giveaway – where we asked our audience to nominate friends and family who are on the NHS frontline, to receive an uplifting surprise gift from us as our humble way to say thank you.

We were still busy working, though – preparing and renovating for the opening of our first flagship store at 35B Sloane Street, which opened on August 8. It’s an added bonus that my husband designed the space, so we worked hand-in-hand daily on the renovation and all of the bespoke features.

WHAT KEPT YOU SANE?

I started watercolour painting again. Every morning I would paint the flowers in my garden. It was a very therapeutic exercise for me to be outside listening to the birds and creating. I felt like a student again with my pads of paper, my little travel case of paints and a folding stool sitting outside painting. It was lovely.

WHAT BECAME OF YOUR PAINTINGS?

We turned them into a wonderful initiative called Flower Therapy. I would paint a different flower from the garden every day to be sold on our website for £250, with 100% of the proceeds going towards endowing a bench in Hyde Park to commemorate the healthcare and key-workers on the frontline. They all sold immediately and I’m planning to paint more during this second lockdown.

I was inspired by New York-based designer Brent Neale, who was working on a similar project for Central Park. It’s great that we could turn the paintings into a purposeful initiative.

HOW DID YOU STAY ACTIVE?

I actually did quite a few of the Joe Wicks online workouts because my three-year-old daughter, Valentine, enjoyed them and would do it with me. They’re only half an hour, so quite manageable.

Plus, I was walking for about two hours every day. My husband and I would walk the 25 minutes to and from the shop every day, and we have a French bulldog who needs walking.

HOW HAS THIS YEAR AFFECTED YOUR PRIORITIES?

For me, personal health and self-care popped up as new priorities. When you have small children and a rigorous career you always prioritise them but I really learnt to slow down and look after myself.

I had glandular fever at the beginning of the year and was really quite ill but I never really stopped working and travelling. When I make commitments I don’t like to let people down. I was due to travel to Texas and Las Vegas in March and I knew that I should cancel because of my health but I didn’t want to disappoint. So, in a sense, Covid kind of saved me from having to make those trips and forced me to really rest and look after myself.

HAVE THE EVENTS OF THIS YEAR IMPACTED YOUR CREATIVITY?

So much of what I do is inspired by my travels to faraway places but during lockdown I found myself travelling through the lens of my friends’ social media accounts. I have two friends who have become professional divers and post lots of beautiful underwater photography. I was so inspired by their imagery and travels that I’ve created a whole collection around it.

Anabela's walnut and raisin brioche french toast

DID YOU TAKE UP ANY NEW HOBBIES?

I’m very fond of cooking and I tried my hand at baking cakes during lockdown, which I’d never attempted in the past. I make quite a good banana loaf now, without having to study the recipe. And pancakes; I made them every morning for the children’s breakfast.

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR SURVIVING LOCKDOWN 2.0?

A positive mindset is key. It’s all about perspective and looking at the bigger picture. I think it’s important to have the understanding and acceptance that this is something that isn’t going to go away overnight. The immediate future might look daunting but we have to look ahead to the grand scheme of things and stay focused on the positive.

Taking time for self-care is paramount. Everything links together: mental health and physical health.

Having the time to rest and think while just sitting in the garden to paint for a couple of hours each day was phenomenal for me. If you have a hobby where your mind can switch off and enjoy being outside in nature that time really makes a big difference. Just making the time to do something that you enjoy and love is important. Do something that makes you happy.

The Anabela Chan Joaillerie boutique on Sloane Street

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SLOANE STREET FOR YOUR FIRST FLAGSHIP STORE?

It’s such an iconic destination and, personally, it’s where I love to shop and wander. We’ve lived in the neighbourhood for 10 years so Chelsea feels very much like home for me. There are pockets of independent stores along Stone Street as well as the global designer brands so you really get the true flavour of British and international luxury on Sloane Street.

Anabela Chan Joaillerie Virtual Reality Boutique

Just before the latest lockdown, we launched our digital Virtual Reality Boutique that allows our clients to shop our Sloane Street flagship virtually from the comfort of their homes at any time of day, from anywhere in the world.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE LOCAL SPOTS?

Banana Split ice cream from Ice Cream Union

Ice Cream Union, 166 Pavilion Rd, SW1X 0AW
I have a major sweet tooth and I love their home-made gelatos. Especially the banana split flavour.

Papersmiths, 170 Pavilion Rd,  SW1X 0AW
I am a fanatic for stationery. I love the drawing tools and pens at Papersmiths, which has a great selection from artisanal makers.

The Bar and Terrace at Belmond Cadogan Hotel

Belmond Cadogan Hotel, 75 Sloane St, SW1X 9SG
I love the Belmond Cadogan Hotel  (above) to meet friends for a cocktail afternoon tea. It’s just down the road from our store and it’s always peaceful.

Urban Retreat at The White House, 2 Hans Cres,  SW1X 0LH
We’ve got The White House just opposite the shop, which is great for day-to-day manicures and pedicures. It’s such a beautiful space.

AC x Heaven face masks
Anabela in an AC x Heaven face mask

WHAT’S NEW IN STORE?

I have just launched a new limited-edition collection of facemasks in collaboration with my friend Heaven Tanudiredja, an Antwerp-based couturier who used to work at Christian Dior Haute Couture. They are the most beautiful face coverings I’ve ever seen, made from 100% upcycled couture fabrics so that every mask is embroidered with things like hummingbirds and butterflies.