Dinny Hall gave an open and engaging talk on ‘The Business of a Luxury Brand’ at the British Museum yesterday (May 12) as part of Cass Business School’s conference event.
The jewellery designer didn’t shy away from giving an honest account about the highs and lows of her business.
Taking candidly Hall shared the struggles of her business during two recessions and stressed the importance of finding the right investor after the battles she’s had with previous ones – including a five year law suit which Hall eventually won in 2000.
Hall’s first point was: “When building a brand ultimately you need to be honest.” She highlighted that the craft behind any brand is important because if your product isn’t sincere and up to scratch it will not last and people won’t believe in the product and in turn not trust the brand.
After graduating from Central Saint Martin, Hall was launched straight into Liberty’s after they attended a CSM show and bought her whole collection.
Hall achieved success at a young age and enjoyed a life of dressing celebrities and building a brand at a time when Britain was booming.
By the age of 25 Hall was doing lots of shows and had a global enterprise; however the designer confessed she had no idea about the business. She just knew she was driven but money was not the motivation. In turn her overdraft got bigger.
Hall felt she peaked in 1989 when she was awarded Accessory Designer of the Year at the Royal Albert Hall in front of Princess Diana.
Trouble struck soon after though as Hall flew to New York. She was there when the Gulf War hit and the first recession of her career began. She confessed: “Everything unravelled because the business side was not on rock, it was on sand.”
Hall was never going to give up though because her name was on the brand. She decided to take on an investor but this turned out to be a bad move. She advised the students that her mistake was going with the first person who offered money at her and in the end, this cost her almost everything.
Hall was in a 50/50 share holding with someone who didn’t understand the brand. In turn, she decided to buy them out. This process took five years.
From 2000-2005 Hall said things went really well. More shops opened and gradually the product morphed into a huge offering of fashion, gifts and high end jewels.
Tragedy struck again though in 2007 after Hall opened a shop in Westfield’s and the second recession hit shortly after. Investor number two didn’t work out either because although they were strong bankers, they didn’t necessarily understand the creative industry.
Hall lost her home to save the business and decided to “wise up and loose gracefully”. Still not giving up though she went on to find a partner who truly understood the business and now they still work together today.
After sharing her story Hall ended with these two final points – never forget your customer a