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Stock 'til you drop this Christmas

Well, I just had the most lovely day walking in the woods, I was sketching for the new collections (A/W’11) and managed to fit in some top dad duties (taking along all the kids, several of their friends and our dog) plus did my best at being photographed for our website.

I don’t photograph well. In real life, I know I’m almost as handsome as Johnny Depp, but somehow photographs and mirrors seem to make me look like a knackered 47 year old. And with Christmas looming, I am starting to feel like a knackered 47 year old.

Last Christmas was the maddest in my 24 years of mad Christmases. This year we’re doing things differently and I’m hoping for a smoother ride of it.
It has been hard to get our retailers to stock up enough in advance. I can understand their timidity, but the volume of sales they missed out on last year was frustrating. I was chatting with Marco Capello (new owner of Liberty) the other day. He really is very good at retail. He said he could forgive almost anything, but to have a customer in the shop wanting to spend, and for the shop to turn them away for lack of stock, that was unforgivable. Liberty, you’ll be glad to hear, we keep well stocked. In fact we pre-plan at least six months ahead, schedule in all our deliveries and back it all up with a large contingency.

Anyway, this Christmas is my 24th, and what are we doing differently? We have a multi-pronged approach. Firstly of course I’ve taken on more staff and rented another unit for packing and dispatch. Emma, my sales manager has done a great job by helping retailers stock up well in advance. We now run a ‘Stock List’ where we’ve taken on the burden of risk, and are holding contingency stock ourselves, from which retailers can order in an emergency. Hopefully no one will run out of stock this year!

Sometimes I regret my commitment to hand making to order in the UK. But then I just need to remind myself that actually, it’s our strength. It keeps us flexible, always able to change at a moment’s notice. We can make little changes, do exclusives and limited runs. Plus the fact that I absolutely love manufacturing, I want to keep it close, and be involved. I want to have a drink with the guys who do the real work this Christmas (guys, of course, also meaning girls).

The primary function of our web-site is to provide best service to our customers, which is initially to encourage them to buy from their nearest retailer. But we also need to engage and delight them, so this year we will have a really fun new feature on the website. It all starts on December 1 – can’t wait! (clue; I spent yesterday making a hen). Because of the success of the site, I sometimes feel we’re being watched to see what we do next. So I guess I’m now becoming a bit of an exhibitionist!

We actually have lots of interesting things going on at the moment. We seem to be doing a lot of work for charity these days. Most of it is really nice to do, and a little easier than cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in the rain! I was at a big posh do at the Royal Exchange last week, and will be at Ronan Keating’s do next week. We have a fabulous project with Burts Bees and the British Bee Keeping Association, which will also tie in with some pre-Christmas fun on our website.

I’m also enjoying putting in my two ha’pennys worth with ‘them in charge’….SamCam got in touch! She’s got some of our jewellery and wants to meet to discuss London Fashion Week - Do I have any opinions? You just wait SamCam! There’s so much talent here in the UK, I strongly believe that the money spent on nurturing it could go a lot further. Just need to remember to watch my big mouth and take the softly, softly approach!

I was on the tube the other night, on my way to a Jaguar event at the Berkeley, and I found myself squished up against a young lady wearing our Feather necklace. It looked great, she looked great, but what is the protocol here? My instinct is to say: “Oh my god, I made that”. But I don’t think that’s very cool, so I left her in peace. I’m never sure what to do. In fact, it happens very rarely to me, I think I have a sort of jewellery blindness for my own work. The girls are constantly complaining that when they leave work they can’t get away from it. Out in town, in restaurants and shops, even when they settle down in front of the TV. I took the kids to the cinema recently and two of the ads featured someone wearing my jewellery – well spotted by my eldest. Still, jewel-blindness has got to be easier. You can get too much of a good thing.

The Jaguar do was fun by the way. Very blokey which made a nice change. I work with 15 women (and one other man) so an evening sponsored by Jonny Walker, with fast cars, cricketers and a hundred suits was rather fun. Lovely to meet Gary Richardson and Jimmy Anderson and Mike Atherton. But I’m not really into cricket so snuck out and met my mate Lloyd in the pub.

Suzy was busy with press loans today, Emma Watson needed jewels for the Premiere of Harry Potter, and Kate Moss was shooting in Morocco for Longchamp. More glamorous goings-on in exotic places…….My jewellery definitely has a better time than me! I’d love to be at that premiere…..and a bit of sun in Morocco would be just the ticket…..sigh…..

But instead I recreated an indelible Christmas image from my childhood, a little blue-tit pecking the foil off a milk bottle to steal the top of the milk. He’s at that impossible angle where he might fall in, just need to check no-one’s coming, all clear, let’s have another sip then. I like this piece. Hmm…. Perhaps it’s not so bad where I am after all.

So, Christmas is looming fast. And I think for the first time in ages, I’m rather looking forward to it. Didn’t think I’d ever say that again. Then again, I might just be being naïve. Fingers crossed then eh?!

Readers' comments (1)

  • Hi Alex, really LOVE your designs, in fact have written about them a lot on our site...

    I love Liberty too, especially all their recent collaborations with various designers. Is there an Alex Monroe for Liberty collection on the cards?


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