I had a baby in Jan 2020 and let me tell you: I was incredibly grateful to have this little human to take up all my time and attention. I had spent a heavily pregnant November and December dragging suitcases from market to Christmas market but a looming Brexit (does anyone even remember that after Covid-19?), meant that trade was unexpectedly and significantly down on the previous year, despite the fact that the rest of the year had been 30% up. On top of that, I had pinned all my hopes on an expensive Christmas cabin at Westfield. ‘This is Westfield’ I thought, ‘if anywhere is going to sell luxury jewellery it will be there; they have a Christmas grotto and it is right next to John Lewis.’ I was so wrong. The footfall was atrocious. It was at the rear square of Westfield, not the side approaching the mall from Shepherd’s bush station (which is rammed). I had willed all those shoppers to the other side of the mall in my mind's eye, I had not been patient and not followed the advice I would usually heed: 'to visit this year, book next year’. It was the first time they were running the market and excitement had been whipped up on the trading circuit. Maybe this was to be the silver bullet, with a tiny little Christmas elf riding on it?
You know how this story ends. At the end of the week, I packed up early, not because of my time, but because of my soon to be born daughter’s time. It was not fair to ask her to sit in a freezing cold cabin for nine hours to sell one pair of earrings. I was, and am, significantly out of pocket.
And so, the planned maternity leave was a sweet relief. I didn’t have to think on my failure because I had far more important things to be worrying about. People would tell me so all the time and who could argue with that?
Month by month crept by. I had a brief period of re-engagement and hope (when I posted some videos at the start of the sunny period), but my financial disaster had left me without the means to invest in a new collection and, as lockdown set in, I found it increasingly difficult to be genuine in marketing my product. I had an absolute block on how to move forward and have been unable to post since.
It has been five months of shame, identification crisis, counselling & self-discovery and most importantly: growth and empowerment. Here I am, ready to own up to my mistakes, ready to take the best action for my family and hoping to re-engage all my lovely customers, who I hope will continue with me on my journey, even though it looks slightly different to the picture I had painted.
What have I learned?
- I have been using my daughter as an excuse not to engage in my business and accept the facts.
- Becoming a mother makes you want to properly understand your childhood so you can be a neutral soundboard for your child, and boy (or girl), does that open up a can of worms!
- I understand what was truly going on with the burn-out/stress situation that prompted the departure from my career, and it isn’t exactly what I have been telling myself.
- Admitting you are wrong is the opposite of admitting weakness - admitting you are wrong is empowering and opens opportunities.
- Being a cliché does not make you cheesy, it makes you human (we are all fundamentally the same and only our egos tell us otherwise).
‘Well that is all great’ I hear you say, ‘but what the hell has that got to do with us?’ Well, some of it has nothing to do with you, and I am going to write in more detail in separate posts about those, so you can pick and choose to read what I am blabbing on about if it sounds of interest. Some of it has a lot to do with you, and can be summarised in the following bullet points:
- I have created a brand that has fiercely loyal customers of which I am incredibly proud.
- Over the years I have established that face-to-face selling is the most successful and profitable. My customers love to see the jewellery, hear about the story and the meaning behind the pieces.
- In order to have the quality and design that I want, the pieces remain at the higher end of jewellery prices.
- Currently I do not have the means to open and resource retail outlets to attract new customers to invest in a new collection to sell to existing customers.
- I enjoyed many elements of my previous career, I was good at it, and I miss it and returning to full time employment will allow me to continue my jewellery design for my niche group of customers, while also supporting my family.
TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES
If I want to stay true to the brand and remain in love with the designs and quality, jewellery is not going to earn my living and I need to look at jewellery as my passion and not my main source of income. I have considered launching cheaper jewellery designs that I know will sell much better, but it defeats the point for me. My jewellery is an ultimate expression of my personality and what I love about people and life, and so this is not an option.
And so, I will be continuing jewellery with renewed passion, and with less pressure to keep investing and growing. I would like to explore the option of pre-order pieces, whereby I will show samples for you to pre-order. This way I can limit my stock exposure and continue making new and exciting designs for my loyal customers. I would love to hear from you to know if this is something you would be happy with. I would show the pieces in the boutique and online where you could place an order. It does require delayed gratification on your part…but think of it as a surprise gift when it arrives!
Got to follow that intuition. We will prevail together. #strongyetfeminine