If you're a regular here at The Mother Hub Meets, you'll know that we usually interview successful women in/from Essex... this week, we're making our first departure from the Essex theme to bring you an incredibly inspiring interview with the brilliant Jen Wood. A few weeks ago, ALEXI London jewellery sent us their 2017 look book along with some information about Jen Wood, the woman behind the brand. We loved lots of the of the pieces in the collection and were really keen to find out more about Jen’s career journey. Jen studied jewellery design many years ago but it wasn’t until 2014 that she launched the ALEXI London brand; creating pieces that were easy to wear, stylish and on-trend. Today she tells us a little bit about running her own business, the importance of research, prioritising and why you should 'head towards the radiators and step away from the drains'.
Tell us a little bit about your background and the story behind ALEXI London?
ALEXI London started many years ago when I studied jewellery design, but my career went down a different path for a while. I always had the idea about a jewellery brand in the back of my mind but it stayed on the back burner! As it turned out, that was exactly the path I needed to go down to get the organization and managerial skills I needed for ALEXI. I’ve always aspired to make a brand where it’s super easy to find jewellery that’s stylish, on-trend, well-priced and easy to wear for a little bit of everyday luxury. So I did lots of research and realised that it would be a viable business idea.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
I would say a highlight of having my own business is the sense of personal achievement and fulfillment which comes with growing my brand.
What has been the biggest challenge?
There will always be challenges when starting a business – that’s why it’s so satisfying when they eventually get sorted out! With ALEXI, of course there have been obstacles to overcome. Not least to ensure that all our pieces fit within our ALEXI “handwriting” - so that there is a distinctive style that unites the collection. I would also say another unexpected challenge has been learning to detach emotionally from work problems. I find it more productive to do something else in the interim then return to it refreshed a little later. Easier said than done though!
As a parent, how do you juggle motherhood alongside running and growing your own business?
I don’t! I started my business at a time in my life when I also had young children, so like every other working parent I had to learn to seriously multitask! My main priority is my kids, after the morning school run I work on ALEXI then at 3pm go and pick the kids up. I always make sure that anything that definitely needs my input is done in the time when the kids are at school. Juggling family and business has taught me the value of prioritizing – it’s a great discipline and actually works best when you are quite ruthless otherwise the day can run away with you!
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
An Uncle once told me when I was young and had a little trouble with friends at school, ‘Head towards the radiators and step away from the drains.’ This advice has stuck with me growing up and helped me choose my friends carefully rather than letting them choose me. You need to fill your life with people that you radiate towards, that support you rather than ‘friends’ that put a drain on your life and bring you down. This advice has helped me step away from the negative people and towards the people that embrace positivity and help me grow.
What is your favourite quote?
There are many – most of them relating to childhood authors, Roald Dahl, A.A Milne, one of my favourite is from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll. ‘You’re mad. Bonkers. Off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret… all the best people are!’ …just a reminder to never take life too seriously - enough said!
What's next for ALEXI London, where do you envisage your business in five years?
We still have some way to go to get ALEXI London to where I’d like it to be. Our website only went live late 2014, so the brand is still in its infancy. We currently upload a new product every Monday which means there are always fresh treats to look forward to. I guess our aim is to grown the brand awareness so that it becomes synonymous with stylish, on trend affordable pieces, and to be in a place where there is a broad enough product range so that there truly is something for everyone.