Bijouled Bite size: March 2017

To celebrate our 9th Birthday, we’ve interviewed Bijouled’s owner and director to find out more about the shop and the creative brains behind it!

Where did your love of jewellery first come from?

I grew up surrounded by jewellery as my father was a jewellery designer and manufacturer. I was fascinated by the process of a design growing from one of his many sketchbook illustrations to the final product. My father created many bespoke designs, including many engagement and wedding rings, and so I loved the time when he would present the final piece to the customer. He got to meet so many people and I like the fact that his work is still out there and has a significant meaning. My memory of helping him make a phoenix brooch for Pat Phoenix, when she was interviewed by Terry Wogan on the Wogan chat show, is still very special. My grandmother was also a very big influence -she loved anything sparkly, including chandeliers, and we would spend hours together looking at all things glittery.

What first interested you in opening up your own jewellery business?

After my father died so prematurely I took a different career path but my love of jewellery was always there. Opening a jewellery business was something I never thought I would do, but one thing I knew I would always regret if I didn’t. After I had a serious car accident at the age of 40, I decided it was now or never. I therefore took a leap of faith into opening a shop in Sowerby Bridge, a town where at the time there was only one other independent fashion shop. Many people thought I was crazy but I was totally happy and grew Bijouled from nothing to becoming a destination shop.

What was the first jewellery brand you bought for the shop and why did you pick it?

Butler and Wilson was the first brand of jewellery I bought for the shop. I had been into the shops in London and fallen in love with its unapologetic flamboyance. It remains one of our best sellers to this day.

Do you have one particular designer that has always stood out for you?

At the moment we deal with over seventy suppliers and designers – some we have always sold and others are constantly changing. I buy from a range of designers that will offer something different to the shop and so I like each one of them for the difference it brings. What is important for me is dealing with people who originally design and make pieces or control the way pieces are made. Quality and unique design are very important to us as a business and to our customers. I really like the way we work with Clare Jordan, who is the brains behind, amongst other products, the curio signs we sell. Clare often makes things with us in mind and in collaboration with ideas that we have. Clare will always be a big part of our business and brand and I like to think we have evolved together over the last decade.

What made you move Bijouled to Harrogate?

When my husband retired we wanted to move and this coincided with the lease on the Sowerby Bridge shop coming to an end. I had thought of looking at Harrogate for retail space, and nearly didn’t go to look, but on deciding to go for the day I found the shop where we are now. We ran both shops for a while and then moved lock stock and barrel to Harrogate.

Do you have any advice to others looking to open their own shop and how to run a successful business?

It’s very important to be true to yourself and your brand. Copying other people’s ideas ultimately never works as you have to keep on changing with your own brand and identity and by learning from the needs of your own customers. Customer service is also key – independent shops need to excel at customer service, both in store and online, to differentiate themselves from well-known high street stores.

What one piece of advice would you give to other business owners?

Never underestimate the importance of cash flow and work life balance.

Is there anything you wish you’d known before opening Bijouled?

That every day is a learning experience – retail will always throw up new challenges and so you have to have coping strategies for the bad as well as the good times.

What’s the funniest customer story you have?

I’m not sure I could repeat that one! However, I think the important thing to remember is all the good customer experiences. I take great pride in our business when people call it “their favourite shop” and travel, in some cases, quite a long way, to visit the shop.

Is there one particular memory you have from running Bijouled that stands out for you?

Opening the shutters on our first day at Sowerby Bridge and not knowing what to expect.

Have you got any plans for the big 10 years next year?

Now that would be telling….

Is there a surprising fact about you that many people wouldn’t know?

That I studied at Loughborough University at the same time as Sebastian Coe.

Posted in General
Pin It

Comments are closed.