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A Tapestry of Friendship : Josie & Jordan's story

Here is a story about one woman's ongoing journey towards motherhood alongside the enduring bond of friendship. As part of an & Mother project in collaboration with one of my closest friends, the photographer Karina Twiss, we wanted to tell regular yet resonating human stories. 

Best friends Josie and Jordan are the co-founders of Thirty Pieces, which they call 'Silver.' Their jewellery pieces, which they make and sell from a small studio shop in Swansea in my local neighbourhood, have a style Jordan describes as having a rustic, naive aesthetic, which is very much part of the charm. I love popping into the shop to see their pieces and new additions or to chat and giggle. They will always offer a cup of coffee, and if my son Lion is with me, he will tinker with their tools while Josie gives him special attention. Thanks to their abundant warmth, our conversations leave me feeling buoyed. On reflection, through this piece, I realise they have made me feel like I am a part of something that has been missing since we moved here three years ago - community - and that's a gift.



Last year, Josie shared with their Silver Instagram community something that I and many were unaware of - that cancer had impacted her fertility, and Jordan was her surrogate who would hopefully carry Josie's baby. Josie's life took an unforeseen turn in her early twenties when a cervical cancer diagnosis led to an emergency egg harvest, resulting in three healthy embryos ahead of radiation therapy. Three tumultuous years preceded this, marked by missed diagnoses and medical neglect, and this period clearly left indelible scars on Josie. 

It felt like an honour when Josie and Jordan entrusted me with writing (and Karina to visually capture) their story. It's been a personal writing challenge to find the appropriate narrative to express the beauty and complexity of their friendship set in the vacuum of Josie's cancer and its impact on her being unable to carry her own baby. 

Several abandoned drafts range from a chronological account of their first meeting in their late teens, where they worked at a local swimming pool cafe making sandwiches (many hilarious tales around this period were shared), to now, as women in their early 30s running a flourishing business together, or an overly poetic exploration that failed to convey the nuances that make their story so personal and unique. 



Their story has universal themes and a foundation of normalcy in many aspects. Events, emotions, and connections are woven with threads of resilience and shared dreams, creating a unique tapestry that invites us to witness the beauty that emerges when true friendship becomes one of the most significant relationships some are lucky to experience. 

Taking the visual metaphor of a tapestry, I wanted to spotlight four chapters (or themes) within their whole story that stood out from the numerous conversations I had with Josie and Jordan while developing this piece. 


Softly spoken, shy yet with a radiating presence, Josie describes herself as naturally passive, and through much of her life, she wanted to find her 'thing.' Her reflections on her personality and the experiences she's navigated (navigating) with cancer and her fertility make you feel instantly protective of her. That her health concerns were dismissed so frequently and ultimately had devastating consequences exposes the inadequacies of much of the health service and, as the girls explain, huge gaps within the spectrum of fertility care. 

No one is more protective of her, though, than Jordan. The yang to Josie's yin, she cheerfully describes herself as a bossy, perfectionist (she assumes the quality control role at Silver), and sometimes dominant. She provides a vivacious counterbalance to Josie's quiet strength, and during our first 'interview,' she kept turning the tables, probing me on all aspects of my life.

Their friendship, forged during a serendipitous 'first date' getting ready together for one of their colleague's birthday parties, ultimately became a sanctuary as they both found themselves at a crossroads within other relationships. In each other, they found balance, with the friendship evolving as they expanded into the women they are today alongside one another. I love how they can pinpoint this transition within themselves and what a pivotal moment it is for many, yet to do it hand in hand with what sounds like a soulmate. 




It is clear that the women's relationships with their families and each other have influenced and shaped them. As they speak of family life, living in Swansea, and their genuine affection for each other, a picture of genuine contentment emerges. The challenges of Josie's health journey and the complexities of surrogacy deepen their connection. They share a synchronicity that extends to the fabric of their lives, even inconsequential details that they laugh and roll their eyes about, such as their partner's Tom,' each sharing the same name. 

The more time I have the privilege of talking to and spending time with Josie and Jordan, the more I get a deeper glimpse into the meaning of their friendship, even when facing the challenges of something so profound as fertility and a quest for motherhood. It's not lost on me that Jordan's pregnancy with Etta, now six, must have been a period of mixed emotions for both of them despite their bond. 

Recently, I was re-reading E.M.Forster's Howards End, and I was struck by this passage and how it radiated my perception of their relationship. 

"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer."

Discovering their shared skill for crafting silver pieces became the catalyst for their ambition. During our conversation, Josie beams as she exclaims about the silversmith course they both joined: 'I finally thought - this could be our thing!' And she was right. As they started to showcase their pieces by wearing them out, the reaction was consistently positive, and steadily, their commissions and profile across the UK have grown.  



The symbiotic process of how they create pieces continues today. They pass work back and forth to each other, tinkering and improving. As a creative, I know how rare it can be to find a working relationship like this. It's as precious as the pieces they make, incredibly liberating, and pushes you creatively. 

Beauty in Imperfection

Humans have a powerful tool to look back on experiences and see that life's beauty often lies in its imperfections, with highs and lows contributing to the overall richness. Whether as a coping mechanism or a growth process, this acceptance can be seen in our personal stories. 

Josie's diagnosis and subsequent treatment left Jordan uncertain of her place in Josie's life during this period. They recount how texts replaced the intensity of their friendship, and as Josie lived at home, her family naturally took centre stage in supporting her through this period. As I reflect on my own sister, presently battling cancer, and how our current form of communication is mostly texts and voice notes, I understand how hard this can be. Your love is unconditional, and you desperately want to help in any way you can, but only so many roles need to be fulfilled. You have to step back and just wait until you're needed again. 

In the realm of surrogacy, Josie and Jordan's friendship has found new strength. Initially, Josie's sister offered to be her surrogate —a gesture that seemed natural and, while sincere, proved unsuitable. The weight of flippant offers from other people added emotion until Jordan, with complete conviction in her ability to be a surrogate for Josie, stepped forward. Having had Etta, Jordan knew that this was a role she could and wanted to fulfil. Finally, in the brutal reality of Josie's cancer and fertility journey, Jordan had a role to play. It strikes me as the complete opposite of wanting to centre herself but the ultimate reflection of the selflessness of their relationship and how they desire nothing but the best for each other. Early on, they express how they are always very kind to one another. 



Reflection of Time

Reflecting on our conversations as a passage of time, a recurring theme is how they balance each other out - celebrating their differences, or rather celebrating and accepting fully who each other is. I love the image of them getting back together after a day or so apart and how they will share every detail of what's been going on, intricately reporting on experiences. They are each other's home in many ways - a safe space where they can be themselves.

I cheekily ask if they have ever had a falling out, and they laugh, acknowledging the one and only time this happened - over a boy many moons ago! They cite their shared family values and upbringings as something that bonds them. Their parents went to the same school and had children when they were young. Both are incredibly close with them now, and the way they talk of their family is so idyllic. 

If you live in Swansea, you are acutely aware that this was the birthplace of Dylan Thomas. The Welsh poet is our most famous export, and Jordan refers to his misunderstood quote that Swansea was the 'graveyard of ambition.' Rather than being negative, it refers to the pull of Swansea and how it can be hard to leave. This idea is echoed in many conversations I have locally with people who grew up here, those who went but returned, and those who moved here in adulthood. There's an undeniable pull and a beauty alongside the roughness. 

An idea that resonated with me after hearing about their family, growing up living in Swansea, and their feelings toward one another is how content they are despite what Josie has experienced. This sense of contentment feels like the ultimate goal in often fractured life. Every thread, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, has created a beautiful whole, bringing Josie and Jordan to where they are today - standing at the precipice of their final surrogacy attempt. The narrative emerges not as a dramatic saga but as a testament to friendship's enduring strength, the pursuit of creative dreams, and an unwavering desire for motherhood. 


Images : Karina Twiss

Models : Josie Slee & Jordan Joseph 

Clothes : Bohéme Goods 

Jewellery : Thirty Pieces 


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