Q&A: Andrew Geoghegan

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Jewellery designer opens up about his life in and out of the studio.

Jewellery designer – and new dad – Andrew Geoghegan was recently unveiled as a Tresor Paris Trendsetter in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. He talks to us about the impact of getting into the cocktail ring game, how his designs mirror his life, balancing the demands of being a father with running a brand and becoming a trade show and buying group convert.

Professional Jeweller: How has life treated you in 2012?
Andrew Geoghegan: Finding out that I am going to be a dad has taken the limelight. Geoghegan junior is gracing us with his presence in October [baby Arthur Geoghegan was born on October 6]. On a professional basis, 2012 has been incredible. Becoming a Houlden supplier has been hugely successful and has meant that I can improve my business to all my retail partners. My company has been in a constant flux and development in 2012, such as new bespoke software being created and dramatic increase in cocktail ring sales.

PJ: It seems you’ve navigated through quite a period of change. Have you hit any hurdles on the journey?
AG: The major challenges in the past year have been how to cope the size of orders placed. This puts pressure on the finances and the staff. Thankfully my suppliers are understanding in this respect and the pressures felt at the staff and logistical end have inspired me to put in procedures and developments to cope with this in the future.

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PJ: Where do you draw your inspiration as a jewellery designer?
AG: I am not actually aware of what inspires me. What I would say is that as I look at the changes in my designs since day one, there is of late a softening of form and a more vibrant expression of colour. I am pretty sure that as my life enfolds and my interests and passions change, this is reflected in my designs. You could say that this is expressed through my jewellery. Who knows what will be created in after October.

PJ: You’ve been investing in building up your cocktail ring business, can you tell us a little about how this is going and what it adds to your business?
AG: At university whilst studying and creating jewellery there were no limits. You were encouraged to be as experimental and avant-garde as possible. As I graduated and entered the jewellery industry, this creativity had to be tempered to some extent as I had to be sympathetic to more commercial and saleable forms. The cocktail side of the business is allowing me to sneak back into this playful aspect again, which first and foremost is just good fun. And when you enjoy something the chances of being successful in that endeavour are dramatically increased. Summer 2012 saw the launch of more AG cocktail rings and I will be honest and say I have a head full of new designs. Financially this has brought excellent revenue to the business and is making it possible for me to make certain improvements and look at developing new point of sale. This addition to the range also adds colour to the collection and brings even more of a unique appeal to it by using unique and distinctive gemstones.

PJ: Your stockist list seems to have been growing – has the past year been a strong one for you in terms of signing up new business?
AG: Yes. Since IJL 2011 the stockist list has increased by approximately 20% with some of the finest retail names in the UK such as Pragnells, Laings and Martin & Co to name but a few.

PJ: You have been running some interesting competitions through Facebook. Is social networking important to the brand?
AG: The World’s First Facebook Ring has been a fascinating competition and experiment for us. It proved to be excellent in engaging the consumer but we are also mindful that competitions can also attract a certain type of consumer. Social networking is very important for the brand and we are constantly monitoring to ensure that we are doing the right thing as opposed to doing it just because everyone else is. We like to be innovative in this area and I have an excellent team to facilitate this.

PJ: You made a return to IJL last year and have joined the Houlden Group – how have these decisions affected your business?
AG: As alluded to already, these have had an unbelievable effect on my business. IJL 2011 was nothing short of phenomenal. For people to say that they could not see me on my stand due to the crowds of eager retailers gives you some idea of how busy we were. This also put my faith back into trade fairs. Over a decade ago I got disillusioned with them from lack of business and lack of footfall, so it was road trip after road trip. This, as any rep will tell you, is very demanding. Creating a stunning stand where the retailers come and visit you on my premises, as it were, changes the dynamic and is more condusive to selling a collection through. On the subject of Houlden, I have always been reluctant to join buying groups as I thought it some way it undermined my independence and my proud ego was of the mind that I can do it by myself. I am delighted to say that I have seen the buying group light and, as mentioned, this has given me the opportunity to improve my product and service to all my retail partners. It has also given me more confidence in my ability as amongst the top retailers in the UK are enthusing about and purchasing my work.

PJ: How would you describe your approach to work?
AG: In pursuit of perfection. I realise that perfection means different things to different people and in the back of my mind I would say that total perfection is not possible. But, this simple statement underpins the core of what makes me and my business tick and everyone in my team is aware of this. It serves to ensure that all involved, including myself, keep striving and pushing the boundaries – making my company innovative and obsessed with quality. Associating with experts is also in line with this pursuit – experts in every fields from marketing to setting.

PJ: How do you manage your work-life balance and how do you relax off the job?
AG: Good question! I have and do struggle with this mainly because I really bloody like what I do. With my son on the way, it has made me look at how much time I spend in the business and how I can change this. I do not want to get to a stage where my son thinks that I seem to have a permanent appendage on my lap in which I stare at for hours and tap (laptop by the way!). The changes that are happening are more delegation and more staff and outsourcing. I do struggle with letting go of certain responsibilities or tasks but I am understanding more and more that there are those who can do various jobs far better than I could ever hope to. I am becoming a little more relaxed and less controlling in my old age or at least trying to. Off the job I spend a good deal of time with the company mascot Wilbur the dog and find this a good method of taking my mind work and being more present. Meditation or self-enquiry is one of the most important facets of my life and this has immeasurable effects on me and naturally how I work.

PJ: What can we expect to see at Andrew Geoghegan in 2013?
AG: 2013 will see more developments in the back end of the business as without this there is no potential for expansion or export. This is focusing on many elements including order and component tracking, which I can tell you is a logistical challenge. We are trying to develop a very automated business in that regard but naturally there will be nothing automatic about the creativity within the company. On a design front, more delicious designs in bridal and cocktail. Any more than that you will have to wait until next year.

 

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