The training centre founder on the importance of training and skills.
As part of our Jewellery Girls Rule issue for July, Professional Jeweller heard from 21 females leading their sector of the UK jewellery industry about the challenges of today’s business, making their mark and their inspirations. Beaulagh Brooks, founder of new jewellery support hub Centrepunch, talks about raising capital and the female designers she finds inspiring.
Professional Jeweller: What has been your biggest achievement to date working in the jewellery industry?
Beaulagh Brooks: I would have to say that my biggest achievement to date is the launching of Centrepunch, a training, mentoring and support centre for the goldsmithing industry. Having spent the last 16 years teaching some amazingly talented students across the UK only to watch them all too often falter upon leaving their studies and many falling away from the industry, I knew something had to be done to help young businesses get started, so the idea of Centrepunch grew from that.
PJ: What kind of challenges have you faced building Centrepunch?
BB: I think I’ve faced the same challenges building Centrepunch that all new businesses face – primarily raising capital for start-up funding. Banks are often willing to help but the rates payable and security required are not for the faint hearted. However if you believe in something then you have to give it your all and go for it, if it doesn’t work then you can say that at least you tried.
PJ: Have you recognised more women fulfilling management and director roles in the UK industry?
BB: I feel that there has been an increase in female MDs across most industries in the UK, not just within jewellery; it’s a sign of the times. There have always been women working in senior management roles but maybe not in the front line of companies until now. I’d like to see even more women MDs as the gender scales are still not balanced, but only if they are the right person for the job. I don’t believe in anyone gaining a role simply because of their gender or race, it should always be based on ability.
PJ: In your view, which direction will the jewellery industry take in the next few years?
BB: I see a return to high craft skills, not necessarily exclusive to those working in precious metals, but used in combination with other materials and technologies. There are many creative artist-jewellers but it is those who display a fine craftsmanship, even if it may only be seen in a brooch pin or a fitting made to the highest standards that will stand out from the rest. Strong craft skills will never leave you, even when your material choices and ideas change; they are the foundations that you will always come back to. However I do think that over the next few years skills training will fall to the private providers as mainstream educational establishments, such as colleges and universities, are irrevocably cutting courses in skills training due to changes in government funding and legislation.
PJ: Who do you consider inspiring female figures in the UK jewellery or luxury goods industries?
BB: There are a number of women whom I find inspiring, many are not in the limelight nor widely heralded, perhaps this is their choice so maybe it is not my place to expose them just yet. But a woman that I had the privilege of teaching many years ago at The Cass is [SHO Fine Jewellery founder] Sarah Ho, she is definitely a jeweller to watch. I would also highlight Amanda Coleman, who built her business from scratch upon leaving the RCA in 1998 and is now an internationally acclaimed jeweller, she is an inspiration to many of today’s graduates who may be wondering if success could ever be theirs.
To read the Jewellery Girls Rule issue in full online, click here.