Retailer on choosing new talent, designing jewels & being a collector.
Henry Graham founded trendsetting London retailer Wolf & Badger. While it stocks a wide range of design-led fashion and homewares products it has gained a strong reputation for promoting new jewellery talent that won the Henry and his brother, and co-founder George Graham places as Ti Sento Retail Stars in this year’s Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. He talks to us about why promoting new design talent is vital, designing his own jewellery and life as a collector.
Professional Jeweller: What have been your highlights of the year, personal and professional?
Henry Graham: The highlight of the year so far has been opening our new flagship store on Dover Street in Mayfair. Fortunately the personal and professional highlight are the same, as I enjoy my work and it spreads into my personal time quite uncontrollably.
PJ: Have you hit any challenges along the way?
HG: Yes we have encountered many challenges along the way, and continue to fight battles daily. Fortunately, George and I work well together and are able to help each other deal with any problems as they arise, while simultaneously moving forward and growing the business.
PJ: Although you are a known primarily as fashion retailer, you have a great reputation for jewellery – why did you decide to make this a key part of your business?
HG: I would not class Wolf & Badger a fashion retailer, although we do sell fashion. We are simply a retailer that works with the best new talent out there, in jewellery, fashion and design. Fortunately we come across many hugely talented jewellers and I think our selection of brands is representative of the best avant-garde jewellery design one can find. I guess we are led by the talent of designers working in this country, which enables us to showcase and sell the best there is.
PJ: You have been working with a lot of up-and-coming talent in the jewellery industry. Why do you feel this is important?
HG: We feel that the best way to support the design industry is to work with and help promote young brands and designers who at relatively early stages of their careers. Our main objective when we started the business was to give power back to the designers and enable them to control their own destinies. By supporting brands at early stages it gives them strong foundations on which to grow and develop.
PJ: Where do you go hunting for new jewellery talent?
HG: We find our designers anywhere and everywhere, from clients coming into our stores wearing cool pieces we wish we could sell and recommending the designer to us, to scouring trade shows as well as plenty of people approaching us directly.
PJ: How would you describe your approach to work?
HG: Usually via the jubilee line to Green Park.
PJ: How do you manage your work-life balance and how do you relax off the job?
HG: I don’t have too much of a work-life balance as one is constantly thinking about problems and how to progress the business. I guess a work-life balance disappears when you stop working for other people. I do manage to relax when I am not at work, however, by designing jewellery, walking my dog, visiting antique stores or interiors shops and going out for dinners with friends. I also collect lots of things so I am always on the lookout for various items to add to the ridiculous amount of bits and pieces around my home. The most recent item I found was a 19th century bamboo hat grabber – I had to have it.
PJ: What are your plans for your business for the next year?
HG: Working with even more designers, adding more services as part of our offer to clients and improving our e-commerce platform.