Jewellery Girls Q&A:Sarah Carpin, Katharine Realff

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CMJ Media director and PR manager on theirs and others’ achievements.

As part of our Jewellery Girls Rule issue for July, Professional Jeweller heard from 21 females leading their sector of the UK jewellery industry about the challenges of today’s business, making their mark and their inspirations. Today we hear from CMJ Media’s director Sarah Carpin and its PR manager Katharine Realff.

Professional Jeweller: What has been your biggest achievement to date within the jewellery industry?
Katherine Realff: Our input and hard work in the growth and development of CMJ Media and being part of the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 in 2012. It’s always great to hear good feedback from clients and hearing prospective clients telling us that they have heard we are the best team to work with. Every time we win a client we see it as an achievement.

Sarah Carpin: Setting up CMJ Media and growing the company, from starting up as a freelance consultant and editor on my own at home, to working with The CMJ and now running an office in Mayfair with 14 accounts, six staff and achieving profit in only the second year of trading.

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PJ: There has been growth in the number of women MDs running jewellery businesses. What are your thoughts on this?
KR: More of the same please. Women understand women’s shopping needs and the shopping experience. Still a very dominated male business. Women are good decisions makers; they look at the bigger picture, follow fashion trends. They are also more assertive with growth and development of business. They are also out of the stone age and certainly when it comes to growth through social media and PR.

SC: The jewellery industry used to be all about men selling jewellery to other men. It was largely a commodity industry with little in the way of romance or quality of retail experience. As times changed and women started buying jewellery for themselves, it is only natural that women have stepped up to become MDs of retail stores.

PJ: Do you think we have reached a stage where women in the jewellery industry are being taken seriously as business leaders?
KR: Not yet. I think women still have a long way to prove themselves in this male dominated environment. I think female business leaders from different sectors are leading the way such as Karren Brady and Jacqueline Gold. Women still need to work harder to make themselves be heard; it’s almost as if they need to be ball breakers and hardnosed to get noticed.

SC: We are getting there, but the majority of the big jewellery companies and retail businesses are still very much owned and run by men (quite often fathers and sons as so many businesses are family-run affairs – but it is encouraging to see more daughters taking more of a leading role in family businesses too).

PJ: Where do you see the jewellery industry going in the next few years?
KR: Still in a difficult time. Retailers need to be constantly keeping up to date with new media and new designers and trends – don’t rely on old strategy. Larger chains are dominating the market as constantly providing new designs and keeping up with the trends and offering cheaper prices, plus online retail is always on the increase. PR-wise, titles are relying more and more on advertising and looking at innovative ways to show product.

SC: The jewellery market has changed dramatically over the past five years and the high street is becoming more competitive and aggressive. The need for strategic marketing has never been so apparent all the way down the supply chain. The internet and technology will continue to provide new opportunities and challenges.

PJ: Who do you consider inspiring female figures in the UK jewellery or luxury goods industries?
KR: Nadja Swarovski for developing the perception of Swarovski brand, designer relations and jewellery design. I worked with Nadja for three-and-a-half years and found her hugely inspiring as a working mother, commanding attention and respect as well as being incredibly personable.

SC: Angela Ahrendts, chief executive of Burberry for her business acumen, and Caroline Scheufele of Chopard for her creativity and passion for jewellery.

To read the Jewellery Girls Rule issue of Professional Jeweller in full online, click here.
 

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