Today, as Lois Avery turns one, I want to celebrate by sharing a family story about my grandmother, Margaret Lois, the woman who inspired this journey I’m on. To start at the beginning means going back 50 years and telling you about this beautiful bracelet.
It was the 1960s and the world was very different then—especially for women. As I share this story, it’s important to know these events happened because of my grandmother’s marital status—she was divorced. The reasons her marriage broke down are complicated, but without going into too much detail, I can say that I loved my grandparents very much and they were both wonderful people, just not wonderful together.
Anyway, let’s keep this moving along.
In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 1967, my grandmother’s brother-in-law received a knighthood for his services to art in his home state of Western Australia. His wife, my grandmother’s sister, Doris, was an artist and loved beautiful things—needless to say the arts were a big part of their lives. To mark this momentous occasion, Doris was gifted this absolutely stunning bracelet from her husband. Little did anyone know at the time it would take on even greater meaning.
Doris and her husband were then given tickets to come to London for the ceremony at Buckingham Palace and a subsequent garden party to celebrate this amazing achievement. As it turns out, there was a spare ticket, and my grandmother loved to travel, so with lots of excitement, she made plans to attend the celebration with Doris and her husband.
They all travelled to London together and arrived a few days early to enjoy the city. Out of the blue, my grandmother was called to Australia House on the Strand (in London) for a “meeting.” She was very surprised to find out that—with great regret—due to her status as a divorcee, she was not eligible to be in the company of the Queen (this was of course before Princess Margaret’s divorce) and her invitation to attend Buckingham Palace was withdrawn.
I can’t begin to imagine how this made my grandmother feel. I heard this story many times growing up, but there was never anger or bitterness in the retelling. What I remember wondering about the most is what my grandmother did that day while her sister and brother-in-law went to Buckingham Palace. She never told me, but I like to imagine her strolling around a beautiful art gallery or sipping tea in a pretty parlour.
Years later when Doris passed away, she left the beautiful bracelet—the token of that trip to London—to my grandmother, which seems quite poignant. I guess she felt sad that my grandmother had travelled all that way, only to suffer the embarrassment of being turned away.
My grandmother loved this bracelet and wore it often—always with a smile on her face. I was fortunate to inherit it from her in its original box with a beautiful handwritten note. She was always letting me play dress up as a child with all her pretty clothes and jewellery, so I knew the bracelet—and what it meant—very well. I like to look at it now with gratitude, not only to my grandmother, but as a symbol of change and growth.
So, when I was thinking about starting this business, I knew I wanted it to be something that would change my life. Something built upon the things I love: fashion, family, and travel. And I also wanted my grandmother to be a part of what I was building. Despite her own setbacks, she believed in me completely and gave me the courage I needed to go on this crazy adventure. She had a huge influence on my life and I wish she was here now to see what I’m doing.
Now that you know this story, you may have realised there is greater meaning to the name of my business. Lois Avery represents the past and the future. The past—my grandmother, Margaret Lois, and the future—my daughter’s middle name, Avery.
It’s funny how something like a beautiful piece of costume jewellery can be an everyday reminder of why I have to keep moving forward. To me, this bracelet truly represents the joy of change and possibility, and one day, my daughter will inherit it and I hope she will cherish it as much as I have and never forget its history.
Portofino photography courtesy of Marlene Lee