Why I chose to keep my manufacturing in the UK

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Designer Charlotte Valkeniers on the perks of production control.

By Charlotte Valkeniers

When you make the decision as a designer to jump into the deep end and start your own company, there are a million things to consider.

The main person to consider is your consumer. Who are they? What is important to them? How much are they willing to spend? Another major aspect is of course your brand. Who are you? What do you stand for? What experience do you offer your customers? When I answered these questions myself, I felt my brand needed to offer jewellery that is individual and original.

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As a trained jewellery designer starting my own small company, it made sense to start making all of the pieces myself. However a year later, I found that I was falling behind on manufacturing. Slowly but surely the business had become about the day-to-day grind and the balance tipped to paperwork and emails rather than time at the bench.

Whenever an order came in, stress would set in. Everything had to be dropped to fulfil the order as quickly as possible, leaving a lot to catch up with afterwards. I knew I had to take the next step in manufacture, but as my jewellery is fashion-led, the price points hold great importance. They are also one of the reasons why the majority of fashion jewellery is manufactured abroad.

However, there are disadvantages to taking your manufacturing overseas, including the initial set-up costs, the quantity costs, visiting the factories, the risk of being unhappy with the quality of the product and communication issues. It seemed too much of a logistical nightmare for one person, so I decided to keep manufacturing in the UK. This means my pieces have a slightly higher price point, but I can control and check every piece to ensure my customers receive the perfect product.

As a young person setting up a business, I wanted to reply to every single email, make every single piece, package every order and do it all myself. This however is not sustainable to run a successful company. I am learning to delegate and focus on the things that can grow the brand.

This Guest Column was taken from the July issue of Professional; Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.

If you would like to submit a Guest Column, contact info@professionaljeweller.com with your idea and contact details.

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