Interview with Jen Wood, director of ALEXI London
Read how Jen Wood eventually put her jewellery studies and organisation skills to good use by launching her own jewellery brand ALEXI London in 2014.
How did your career change after having kids?
I had to become an expert juggler! I’ve learned how to juggle all the little things to make the big things happen. I guess it forced me to be more focused, to prioritise my business goals and be clear about what the long term goal is for ALEXI.
I’ve learned to compartmentalise work and family time so that I can be fully present for my family as soon as the school day ends!
Work runs so much more smoothly when I delegate jobs to the team and brief everyone fully each day so that nothing gets neglected. It helps that the team are also passionate and share my vision and aspirations.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Years ago I studied jewellery design, which inspired me to have a business of my own in the jewellery industry. My career went in a totally different direction though, but the organisational and managerial skills I picked up along the way have been invaluable for this current business.
I always struggled to find stylish jewellery which was easy to wear on an everyday basis, but also on trend and well priced. So I did lots of research and realised that it would be a viable business idea.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
Research, research, research! Basically a year of intensive thinking into possible product lines, pricing, packaging, websites, social media, online marketing, competitors and then some!
I launched the website in August 2014 and so once the brand was registered it was a case of steering it how I had imagined it to be.
What’s your USP?
Well, to be honest, we are extremely proud that all of our product is Sterling Silver (or Sterling with 18ct Gold/Rose Gold plating).
Our careful sourcing and pricing means that we are actually very competitive with competitors who may have a product offer which is only using plated brass as a base metal. So that in itself makes ours stand out.
We edit continuously too – adding new styles weekly to keep it beautifully on trend. We also balance it to make sure there really is something for everyone, whether they are fashionistas or prefer something more classic.
Who’s your target audience?
Any woman who wants her jewellery to have a nod to fashion, but which is also ‘seasonless’, i.e.pieces with a longevity more than the current season! ALEXI customers want easy to wear pieces which add a little luxury to everyday dressing – the kind of things that give you a little lift when you pop them on in the morning! She also appreciates quality – so everything we offer is in Sterling Silver.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
Social media is key for ALEXI. We use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to update customers on what’s new with us.
We’ve always got plenty to chat about – product launches, celebrity endorsements, inspirational quotes, gorgeous places we’ve eaten at which we think our customers would like, or even exhibitions we think of interest to them.
Our PR is done in-house via mags, newspapers, online sites and bloggers. Although we’re a relative newcomer to the jewellery scene, we’re thrilled to have been picked up by some major national press.
What’s been the biggest obstacle to overcome?
Learning how to detach emotionally from work problems when they’re issues I can’t solve immediately. When it’s your own business, it can feel like everything is your problem, but I often find that putting a little distance there is more helpful to gain perspective.
Then I can return to it with a clearer head and be more creative with the actual problem solving!
Why is work so important to you?
A sense of personal achievement and fulfillment which comes along with the responsibility and dedication to launching and growing a brand. It’s a completely different sense of fulfillment than you get from managing a family.
I’d like to instil certain values in my children – of ambition, passion, commitment, perseverance and I think they can see all of that in my role as Director of ALEXI.
Who inspires you?
I’m drawn to women who have strength of character and honesty is also important. I respect woment who show a more realistic attitude to their working lives – such as Jo Malone and Davina McCall. To me, they both appear very motivated and still approachable whilst combining work and family.
How do you balance business with family?
The only way I know how: one thing at a time! And by being honest about how important it is for me (and my family!) to separate work and family time.
It’s tempting to try and work while they’re around but I’ve learned that it’s actually counterproductive and so best to just do extra work either early morning or after they’ve gone to bed!
What are your top three pieces of advice for someone setting up a business?
- Research and more research! Have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve from the business and know exactly where you want to be in five and 10 years time. Then take the appropriate steps in your life to try to make that happen.
- Don’t be afraid to change your mind- if something doesn’t turn out the way you’d wanted or expected it to, don’t be scared to go down a different path, change your mind and try something new.
- Learn to let go- if something has gone wrong and is out of your control, try not to let it stress you out. Figure out a way to deal with the situation and take positive steps to get back on track.
Thanks for your interest in ALEXI – we hope you love the collection as much as we do!
GET 10% off your first order at ALEXI London by using Code TL10 at checkout.