In 2006 I opened my first shop selling one small brand and other non branded jewellery. Following a newspaper headline saying" Berwick was dying on its feet,all the nationals pulling out"., which I was sure was not the case. I made the decision to open a shop and five weeks later we were trading! Gung Ho maybe, but it worked!
Having worked for an independent jeweller and also having worked for a few large well know companies,B.S.Y (Before the Snot and Yogurt jobs that arrived with motherhood) I put all that good training and experience into my new venture .
I was know as "Waitrose Wendy" for years so I thought call the shop Its own name. I thought don't get labelled again,so I chose an usual name. Thinking it was a good idea to have a name that started with an "A" to get top listing in the phone book and hopefully to make it memorable. I chose Alame (a Spanish girls name meaning Elegant Poplar Tree) Fraser for my clan and Irish family. Little did I realise I would have a second persona for eleven years, I was called everything from Allan, to Elaine. I think the joke was on me.
Alame Fraser was very kind to me and allowed me to feed and bring up my children. It also taught me that you can't do anything without good training, knowledge and experience. The very first Christmas, I took time to reflect on those who had helped give me that knowledge. I now understood why I was once referred to as "a bit of a Jack Russell" by my boss he assured me it was a complement (even if I did have to look up the word tenacity) . Realising how lucky I had been to work with some amazing people, I took time out to write an open letter to them all thanking them for giving me those useful tools. Not only create a business but also to employ others and create jobs at a time where things were not always easy. However time moves on eleven staff, one dog, three shops and relocation later, I needed something fresh to put into the shop. The little brand we sold was the lovely Sheila Fleet now Scotland's premier designer available all over the world, so not unusual any longer. I learnt that people buy from you, not your shop and that buying jewellery is all about what it means not what it costs. Which is why I like to be out on the stand not in an office.
A trip to a trade show in early 2015 was life changing, and very unexpected . I had gone with my old friend to buy a new range of Scottish jewellery for the shop. I met a man who tried to Hornswoggle me into buying Mexican silver as Scottish, as I walked away my friend asked why I was uneasy or to be more precise said "You turned into your mother, what is up?" I suspected had been misled and this was no way to do business certainly not when your reputation and client base is built on trust. My whole business had been built on value for money, honesty, and service, it was not about to change! However it was a huge catalyst and bought about the company we are today.
We had always made bespoke pieces and in 2008 made a farriers nail neck wire for as 21st birthday. From that day forward we had talked and talked about doing a wee range but it had never been the right time. ........ Come the Monday morning it was Geronimo time!
For what happens next come back next week - when I will explain why farriers nails are so inspiring. Or better still pop along to the Tynedale Point to Point at Corbridge and ask me in person.