INTERVIEW: Anna Trent, Anna Lou of London

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Anna Trent of Anna Lou of London discusses her new wholesale venture.

British jewellery designer Anna Trent started her successful label Anna Lou of London with a stall in Portobello Market in 2004. Cut forward to 2014 and she’s forging ahead with a bold company expansion plan, as well as adding a new wholesale proposition for customers. Professional Jeweller caught up with Anna to find out more.

Professional Jeweller: We’re you formally trained as a jeweller?
Anna Trent: No, I trained as an actress. I started making jewellery to subsidise the lack of acting jobs around but I never ended up acting because the jewellery took over.

PJ: You started selling in Portobello market, what type of pieces were you selling and what are the benefits of starting out on a market stall?
AT: I was making bright resin pieces by hand. I still make bright pieces using resin, varying the designs to suit trends. Beginning a business on a market stall is a great starting point as you can get a genuine opinion from the customer straight away, face-to-face.

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PJ: What are your plans for Anna Lou of London going ahead?
AT: My investors are looking for the business to grow in the long term, but I am about to have my third child so I have to be careful how much I take on. Our team is growing quickly, but we are planning to expand slowly over the next 12 months. We constantly have a turnover of new designs and new product because this is what the press wants because that is what the press wants and this is what will help to grow the business. I’m always really ambitious, so I would like to increase sales by 20 to 30% each year.

PJ: How much of your social media and marketing is done in house?
AT: When I was working from home I had a PR agency and social media outsourced. Since moving to our office, everything has been brought back in-house. I feel more in control now, and we have our own PR and marketing person, so I only have to talk to one person about the end goal. When everything is outsourced you have to explain yourself numerous times to several different people and can’t guarantee the end goal.

PJ: What have you found to be a successful marketing strategy for the brand?
AT: Social media is our main form of marketing. We take on ambassadors and work with bloggers, who are our main focus. We make sure they are right for the brand as well as passionate. They have to love the brand and be able to talk about it. We also have to ensure we are working with bloggers who fit within our marketing budget, as many of them charge a fortune nowadays! I have also collaborated with Company magazine to create three festival inspired wrap bracelets, which generated lots of interest.

PJ: You’ve recently given loyal customers the chance to become ‘Stylists’. What’s the idea behind this concept and how does it work?
AT: We’ve given customers the chance to buy items in bulk at a discounted rate and then sell them on as they choose. It’s essentially allowing loyal customers the chance to become mini wholesalers. If you go to the website and purchase £250 worth, you have the potential to make 30% profit. The maximum profit a bulk buyer could make is 60% when spending over £500. When a customer registers they are asked to attend a training day to ensure they know the rules around selling our product. We call them ‘Stylists’ who then become part of a passionate club who represent the Anna Lou of London brand.

PJ: Outside of the UK, are you having success in any other markets?
AT: Most of our business comes from Taiwan, Japan and China. They like good quality product with a pop of colour and elements of cute, quirky Britishness. I’m sure the brand name ‘Anna Lou of London’ also has a lot to do with success in the Far East too. Personalised name and hashtag necklaces do particularly well overseas, as do sterling silver dog tag-style necklaces that can be engraved. About 50% of our work is bespoke engraved orders at the moment.

Additional editing by Ella Stern.

 

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