Q&A: Alex Monroe

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Monroe explains how the rising gold prices have helped his business

 Alex Monroe of the synonymous brand tells us of his plans to crack China, how rising gold prices have done him a huge favour and let’s us in on his secrets to keep shoppers coming back to his website

What is the worst part about being an internationally successful brand?
“I really hate traveling, it’s just not for me.”

Are there any international markets that you’ve yet to crack?
“I’ve got to get a move on with China and the Far East.”

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What makes your brand unique?
“We handmake everything here in the UK. A lot of people say they handmake in the UK but you know perfectly well that most of it is bought in and they might unpack it by hand, but we really do handmake everything. I did a talk at the Clerkenwell Association recently and they said ‘Why do you say everything is handmade in the UK?’ I said, ‘Well that’s because it is’. They said ‘No it isn’t. Why is it so cheap? How can you make so much?’ So even other makers don’t believe us, but we do.

Has the rising gold price had an effect on you?
“Not a bit of it. We do most of our pieces in gold-plated silver. We do get through a lot of it and when I used to buy a vat of it, it was £400 and now it’s £2,000. But in many ways it’s done us a huge favour because there’s lots of people doing similar things to us in gold and their prices have shot up."

How has your business fared through the recession?
“Through this recession we’ve just been mad. At Christmas, literally the phone was ringing off the hook; whenever you put it down, it rang again. The website went mad and we couldn’t keep up with the demand.”

You sell directly to consumers through your website – how is that going?
“The website has gone really well. In December we sold more than 100,000 pieces. When you buy from the website each pieces is hand made and then packed up specially for you. Everything is made to order.”

How do you keep customers coming back to your website?
“We make one-off pieces and sell them on the website and that keeps people stay in touch with the website to see if there’s anything new. We run the blog on the website and that gets loads of response.”

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