The leading lady on opening a store and the collective’s evolution.
Cindy Dennis Mangan is the founder of the Jewellery Designers’ Collective (JeDeCo), a diverse group of jewellers that have come together to offer high-design, affordable and on-trend designer jewellery. This year the group opened a boutique within London’s Oxo Tower, hosted its first management elections and several events. Cindy was names a Trailblazer in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012, in association with The Company of Master Jewellers and Pursuit.
Professional Jeweller: JeDeCo has really come to the fore in 2012 – what have been your highlights?
Cindy Dennis Mangan: We opened our first JeDeCo showroom at the Oxo Tower in May, after winning the bid for the creative space in the first place. On a personal level, having my Cindy Dennis Mangan collections requested by French Vogue, ES Magazine and French Grazia, and winning the IJL Platinum Trail Best Bridal Tri-Set Commercial Design award and Retailer’s Choice awards for our Dennis & Lavery Elemental platinum collection.
PJ: Have you hit any challenges along the way? And if so how have you overcome them?
CDM: Early in the year JeDeCo faced the challenge of our first management elections. After founding JeDeCo I had led the group as chairperson through three formative years with many changes and new members. I felt that the best way forward was with a new management style, and we elected a fabulous new chairperson, Annika Burman, and two vice chairpersons, whom I advise, and also appointed managers of our subcommittees, which I also advise. We had started the discussion for a shared retail space two years prior; however we really needed the breadth of a structured and dedicated management team to balance the load. Without that I think the hill would have remained too steep to climb. The biggest challenge with the JeDeCo showroom then became to find a creative and retail space that was in an accessible and inspiring location that fit the requirements of the 10 JeDeCo designers participating. Writing the business plan was shared among the JeDeCo management team, so that was not so much a challenge as a process of strategy refinement. It forced JeDeCo into a second period of introspection, and we have emerged stronger and full of plans for 2013 and beyond.
PJ: What was the motivation behind opening a store for JeDeCo, and how has it helped drive your own brands?
CDM: I founded JeDeCo because I believe in the necessity of creative collaboration, in collective strength and knowledge. Building a business in the creative arts is beyond tough if you are alone. Most designers have not had years of business admin or marketing experience. We opened our first Dennis & Lavery platinum retail concession within the JeDeCo showroom this year, and it has done marvellous things for our business. Dennis & Lavery platinum jewellery previously operated via the internet, a highly serviced bespoke client list, and retail stockists, together with exhibitions and wonderful PGI marketing support. With our own retail space our existing clients have begun to refer us even more, and we now have drop-in customers who may previously have been shy of the one-to-one bespoke commission process. Adding bricks to our clicks offering has revolutionised the Dennis & Lavery business offering since May and our turnover and margins are both significantly up year on year.
PJ: How would you describe your approach to work?
CDM: My work approach is “all in”, and whenever I come up for air I feel like I must start another project. I cannot easily separate work time from other time because if I am not performing a business admin or marketing task or showing at an exhibition for either Dennis & Lavery or Cindy Dennis Mangan, or working on projects as a National Committee member of the British Jewellers’ Association, or entering or judging competitions, then my mind is busy designing the next collection. There is no time to waste as a self-employed jewellery designer and business person, and this recession is our time for closely managed growth.
PJ: How do you manage your work-life balance and how do you relax off the job?
CDM: I often think I can do even more, and that there are no boundaries, but my partner Mark Mangan keeps me as balanced and as realistic as possible. He is very skilled at prioritising, and makes sure I have family time with him and our wonderful four year old son Whittaker [Cindy has since had her second child]. We do try to take a few weeks off per year to recuperate.
PJ: What are your plans for your business for the next year?
CDM: 2013 will be spent building clientele and running events in our JeDeCo showroom, consolidating our Dennis & Lavery platinum bridal retail offering, and increasing sales of my Cindy Dennis Mangan Princess & The Python and Cleopatra’s Curtains collections.