As part of a new series we are interviewing some of our clients about their businesses. We start with Hannah Riding, Sales and Marketing Director at Silver Tree Jewellery, recent winner of Branded Jewellery Retailer of the Year at the UK Jewellery Awards 2015.
Silver Tree has been a presence in Lancaster for as long as we remember. What’s the history of the business?
Silver Tree Jewellery began in 1982 being Lancaster’s only sterling silver jewellery shop. Patricia Gibson took over the business in 1991 and became the go to shop for silver, semi-precious jewellery, gifts and women’s clothes. Oliver Gibson, her son, joined the family business in 2005 with a plan for driving the business forward; now being the Best Branded Jewellery Store within the UK which was coveted at the 2015 national jewellery awards.
When did you get involved with Silver Tree and why?
I got involved with Silver Tree in 2007 at which point the shop sold clothes and gifts as well as jewellery. Initially I was attracted by the ever changing window display and the unique stone-set jewellery. I wanted to know what it was like working within a jewellery shop and felt that I could lend my knowledge of customer and industry fashion trends as well as my work ethic.
What were you doing before Silver Tree?
I started work at the age of fifteen every Saturday in a hairdressers; which is where I really learned to work! From customer service and working within a team to general housekeeping. Although I loved the hairdressers I felt that I needed to experience University so I put my efforts in that direction. At this time I also managed to kick start my career with DCK Concessions where I merchandised the jewellery stands within the major Arcadia fashion stores in Lancaster; namely Freedom at Topshop. I began my career at Silver Tree Jewellery in 2007 at the age of 20 and graduated in 2009 with an upper second-class honours degree.
For those that don’t know, what does Silver Tree specialise in?
Silver Tree Jewellery is a fashion branded jewellery store. We specialise in providing a unique customer service experience and showcase jewellery collections from the best designer brands within the UK.
Buying jewellery, whether as a gift or for yourself, can be difficult if you’re not quite sure what you want. How do you help customers find the right piece to buy?
I always like to look at what my customer is wearing already (either female or male); this can be from the jewellery or clothes that they wear. What is the customer’s style? From there I like to match this ideal with jewellery from the different brands that we stock. Buying gifts for someone can be a little harder but asking the right questions is a great place to start; from who are they buying for to the occasion the gift is needed. Personalising gifts is on trend especially with the Thomas Sabo Love Bridge collection as we can engrave any item for free!
On a similar note, how do you decide what to stock, is it based on customer requests or are customers looking for you to introduce them to items they might not otherwise know about?
The brands that we stock within our shop are gained by research. I like to explore online the best fashion brands of the moment and look at emerging brands within the U.S. I also buy fashion magazines such as Elle and Vogue and look at the jewellery featured along with industry magazines such as the Retail Jeweller. We attend the prominent industry shows such as International Jewellery London. The best brands and trends to follow come from paying attention to what our customers or ‘shoppers’ in general are wearing. Once in while a new trend will come along that we will introduce our customers to like Swarovski’s earring jackets.
Are their specific challenges to running a jewellery business, and how do you overcome them?
There are challenges to running a family business (in any industry) and the best way to overcome them is communication and time planning. We like to prioritize the work that we do and also not outsource work too much; if we can find out how to do it ourselves and it is cost effective then we do it ourselves.
There is lots of media coverage about how life on the high street can be hard for businesses. Does this match your experience?
No. To run a branded jewellery shop you need to be forward thinking; to not be afraid of change and to constantly evolve your business and channel new methods of marketing. The service that we provide entails of an approachable sales persona where ‘nothing is too much hassle’ and to create a modern environment where the door is always open. We are also available 24/7 as customers contact us via email and social media where we endeavor to respond as quickly as possible.
What role does your website play in your business?
The website is pertinent to our customers shopping experience and brand identity. Firstly and most importantly it is a window into our shop and lets us engage with ease with our online customers. Secondly it acts as a ‘shop’ where customers nationally and internationally can buy from our edit of designer jewellery.
Is the website becoming an increasingly important part of your business?
Yes, the website is aiding the customers shopping experience. We get customers coming into the shop on a daily basis having browsed the website via their mobile phone first. The website is forever changing whether it be the jewellery and trends offered or making it easier for customers to shop online; like our recent optimization for tablet and mobile browsing.
What are your plans for the future of Silver Tree, both in the short and long term?
In the short term we want to keep providing excellent customer service and bringing the best fashion jewellery trends to Lancaster. We have just moved offices to keep up with the daily demand of the website and efforts in this area will also be kept up. In the long term we may want to open more Silver Tree jewellery shops within the UK – so watch this space!
For more information about Silver Tree Jewellery visit their website.
If you would like to be featured as part of this series please contact us.