As part of our ongoing series of interviews dedicated to fine jewellery, CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed British jeweller Theo Fennell, a master of unconventional and unexpected creations.
How did your company perform in 2018 and what are your expectations for 2019?
Since we bought it back some 18 months ago, the company has performed better and better. There is still some fine tuning needed but we are back to our roots and doing what we do best, happily occupying a very niche planet in the jewellery firmament!
Do you expect any impact from Brexit?
We are very lucky at Theo Fennell to have our studio and workshops above the Gallery. This has been the case since we started in 1982 as I believe that all the processes from design to the exhibition of a piece need to be interrelated. Some of our craftspeople have been with the brand for more than 30 years and are the very best you will find anywhere. Because of this, we do not have the same worry as other brands who rely on having goods made from all over the world.
Although we are a British brand, we have a vast and loyal international clientele and it is important to us that we continue to look after them and make the very best work for them. This year we are developing a new website to ensure seamless communication of the Theo Fennell experience to all our customers and for those who don’t know us to be able to get to know us.
So much of what we do is commissioned work that we need to be able to show how this works and take away the unjustified fear some people have of having things made. Our intention is to offer a unique shopping experience and explain visually how our work comes into being. We want to share our design ethos and history, show new pieces and reproduce the best version of a trip to our Gallery and workshops imaginable.
How would you define the DNA of your brand?
I believe we combine the best aspects of British design. A certain eclectic aesthetic, that ranges from the classic and beautifully-made to the more theatrical but equally well crafted and thought out. British culture, which takes in Shakespeare to Panto and Milton to Woodehouse allows us a very broad spectrum. We are passionate in that everything we make is invested with real originality of thought and emotional heft because jewellery should be a really personal and sentiment-filled thing.
Your brand is known for its quirky designs. Where do you get your inspiration?
From everywhere; music, theatre, films, books, sport, architecture and all the minutes of life. I grew up during a fantastically fertile time, creatively, when everything seemed possible and there seemed to be no limit to ideas and no narrowness of thought. Doing something well and with passion appeared more important than making huge amounts of money. That allowed an openness to influences and a freedom that is only now returning to jewellery.
Can we speak of certain trends in fine jewellery?
I think people everywhere are returning to proper values in jewellery; great and original design married with brilliant crafting. Why should they pay a fortune towards the advertising of a mass- produced object when they can have something for the same price that is really personal and will last many lifetimes? It says much more about themselves than a big brand ever can.
An increasing number of ‘hard luxury’ brands are shifting their strategies towards brick & mortar. What is your approach? Where can your products be found?
We have come out of all the big department stores and wholesale accounts to concentrate on bespoke work, small limited editions and one-offs, all which are designed and developed on our flagship store which hosts our showroom and atelier. I think retailing from buildings, unless it is selling necessities, will only survive if it offers customers an experience and allows them to be part of its ethos.
Is there a profile of your returning customer?
We have always had a high level of women who shop for themselves, very unusual in the old days but more common now. Our clients have always had enough self-confidence and style not to need big brand endorsement, they know what they want and we continue to see this. We have a very high proportion of creative customers, entertainers, writers, actors and designers and so forth and that has been one of the reasons why bespoke is such a large aspect of our business.
Are your designs appealing to a certain nationality clientele?
Not at all we have an exceptionally cosmopolitan club of customers and of every kind of persuasion!
What is your approach to e-commerce?
We are currently rebuilding our website and we are taking great care in getting it right to ensure our customers the best possible experience with the brand. We would like to reproduce the most perfect experience you could have in the shop, both shopping and looking around the workshop and studio guided by the perfect salesperson.
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