On expanding her retail presence while developing her eponymous brand.
Charmian Beaton punches way above her weight. The Scottish designer has been based in Maidstone for a decade in her own shop selling directly to the public but made the leap to wholesale in 2011 and has gained more than 50 accounts already.
But she remains extremely humble, and frankly gobsmacked at her recent trade success. “It’s sort of taken me by surprise. I never imagined the jewellery industry to sit up and take notice of lil’ ol’ me. Awards are what happen to people like Stephen Webster or Rodney Rayner, not me.”
But despite the surprise, she is sharp enough to take advantage of this wave of affection and admiration, and funnily enough after more than a decade in the trade she has timed her return to wholesale perfectly. “As a designer/maker it is possible to become a brand. That was unheard of 12 years ago.”
She is well on the way, and it will be the culmination of a journey steeped in inevitability for Charmian. “It’s all I’ve ever done. I’m pretty lucky in I’ve always known exactly what I wanted. Sure my goals have changed during my career but one thing has led to the next. I left uni, went travelling in Asia, then designed and made my first collection in 2000 and started selling it at shows. I moved to England in 2001, opened my retail shop in 2002. I then took a break from my trade selling in 2008 and just concentrated on retail, but reassessed and launched my new collections in 2011. In hindsight I should have probably got a job in the industry first to gain experience.”
And her next steps? “I’m moving and expanding my retail shop, which I am very excited about as its to a much busier part of town. I also unveiled a collection of platinum and 18ct gold wedding jewellery earlier this year and I am keen to see where I can take that.”
Sounds like a confident plan, but Charmian insists that as a person she is anything but. “I’m really shy, I hate being centre of attention. People always assume I’m dead confident because I’m chatty, quite opinionated and able to just get on with it in most situations, but really I’m a bit of a mouse.”
Shy may be shy but is definitely courageous. She once received a bravery award for tackling an armed robber in her shop – she leapt on his back and tore off his helmet, then subdued him with help from her father and neighbouring shopkeeper. Punching above her weight comes naturally, you see.