As we start the build up to the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers and supported by gold partner Ti Sento, we indulge in a bit of looking backwards to the leading lights of the jewellery industry that made it into the Hot 100 2011. Today is the turn of husband-and-wife team Jos and Alison Skeates whose work in running London jeweller EC One secured them places as Ti Sento Retail Stars.
Jos and Alison Skeates have another busy year under their belts, with their two EC One stores in London continuing to provide an exciting selection of jewellery and marketing initiatives that have won them new customers.
Priding themselves as one of the first retailers to champion the likes of Stephen Webster, Alex Monroe and Monica Vinader, EC One has continued its history of firsts this year by becoming the first jeweller to hallmark a piece of Fairtrade Fairmined gold jewellery.
EC One was one of the first 20 companies selected to work with the ethical metal when it launched earlier in February. As soon as the pot of golden granules arrived its Exmouth Market store Jos quickly got to work making a gold wedding ring and then jumped on his bicycle with the piece to make sure he was the first to secure the hallmark.
The team at the store recorded the momentous occasion on video and took photographs, which were then posted on the company’s popular Facebook page and blog.
Meanwhile, in her role as head buyer, Alison has found herself travelling the world in search of new designers to keep EC One’s offer interesting and fresh, snapping up talents such as Selim Mouzannar from Beirut, British talent Merle O’Grady and new brand SuShilla. Her eye for talent has led to Alison being asked to sit on the Advisory Board for London Fashion Week this year, offering insight on how to improve the jewellery offer at the LFW’s exhibitions.
Jos, who is a master goldsmith and graduate of Central St Martins, shares his wife’s passion for new talent. Last year they launched EC One’s Unsigned competition, which awards a young designer with a mentoring program, the chance to design a collection with EC One, free PR support and the use of EC One’s in-house workshops, and the competition will be back for a second year.
While EC One is a keen champion of up-and-coming talent, it also continues to work closely with major designers, such as Stephen Webster, which it has worked with for more than 10 years. This year its Notting Hill store was the first UK retailer to showcase its limited-edition Seven Deadly Sins rings and EC One remodelled the store for one night only, removing all stock to focus only on those seven rings and a select number of pieces by the brand.
“It was a risk to dedicate so much of space to such a small number of pieces but it paid off,” says Jos. “We took more than £40,000 on the night alone.”
EC One has suffered in the financial downturn, closing one of its stores but, Jos says, the company is looking at an exciting future.
“Over the last 12 months we have focused on what we do best and as such our sales have grown by 15%,” he says. “We have our plan written out for the next 12 months and we know we can keep achieving our goals.”
This interview was taken from the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2011. If you or someone you know has had a great business year and are hot enough to be part of the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012 then click here for more information about the nomination process.