Hot 100 2013: Howard & Carolyn Graham

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A business inspired by Zulus that boasts a turnover of more than £1m.

With the creation of the brand Pure Attraction, husband-and-wife team Howard and Carolyn Graham at Ntinga have hit gold. Or rather, silver. Silver and magnets, that is.

What started as a sideline to their main diamond business now subsumes 85% of their trade after a year in which the brand has launched a dedicated website, experienced a real boom in stockists, which now number 200, and racked up in excess of £1 million in turnover.

And Howard says it all started with something of a Sliding Doors moment. After accidentally setting off in the wrong direction when leaving a trade show in Italy something caught his eye. He went in, spoke to the business’s owner and struck up an instant rapport. “That was where it started,” says Howard. He knew that the silver bracelets with the magnetic fastening would work for UK consumers.

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“I named the product Pure Attraction, pure for the silver, attraction for the magnets, and placed one advert to draw customers to it at IJL. The reaction was incredible, we did phenomenal business at the show. It was an instant brand and last year was the best year of my working life.”

Howard’s working life spans four decades. For most of those 40 years, he has worked alongside wife Carolyn. “After 33 years working together, we have a relationship of total respect, love and success. She is the definitely the more sensible one, maybe even the more pessimistic side of us. But that’s good, maybe I need a bit of caution sometimes. She would say I work too hard and I get too stressed out at times, but who doesn’t?”

And if Howard wants to de-stress, he can take it all out on his beloved Southend United. And he has managed to bring his love of football into his working life, with the creation of a range for Tottenham Hotspur, after having created pieces for team manager Andre Villas Boas and chairman Daniel Levy. The range is set to go live for sale on the club website.

It is another exciting chapter in the Ntinga story, which you sense is really taking off now. Actually that’s an appropriate way to look at it. Howard spotted the name (pronounced en-ting-ga) when on a trip to South Africa. “It was just a word that I liked. It sounded good and, well, I was never going to call the business Howard Graham Limited. So it stuck. I later found out it means something like soaring high. It’s what Zulus shout when they throw their spears.” Soaring high seems perfectly apt right now.

Howard and Carolyn Graham were selected as CMJ Business Big Shots in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.
 

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