When I see things, I can’t unsee them. Love, relationships, a mouse in my apartment—there they are, permanently etched in my mind. The same goes for work. I’ve been around the block long enough to know quickly if something is or isn’t a fit, either in the scope of work, office culture, or the people I’m working with, and as much as that’s to my benefit, it’s also to a fault. Too many times I’ve caught myself only weeks into a new contract or job dealing with disappointment and managing my reaction to the realization that, again, this isn’t the dream job.
A move to the West Coast has led me through so many iterations of personal development that I now know there’s nothing wrong with that. Trite as it may sound, everything does happen for a reason, and I truly believe that there’s something special to be experienced from every situation. Maybe it’s new friendships cemented over your shared frustration of a work situation, or the opportunity to travel, being forced out of your comfort zone, or discovering different culture. Think of life as one long, dusty, desert road. It’s no coincidence that the experiences you have and the people you meet along the way intersected with your map—there’s a point to everything.
Sheherazade Goldsmith has spent the last fifteen years as a revered columnist, author, and journalist, exploring environmental lifestyle issues, writing about food and farming, and later, pursuing investigative work. However, it was her first job – a role she only spent two years doing – that in “some strange way,” led to her branching out with friend Laura Bailey, and launching Loquet London. Being an entrepreneur or pursuing a new career path can lead to lots of questioning self-doubt, but if we learned anything after talking with Sheherazade, it’s that everything you’re doing now will bear importance on what you do in the future. “No experience is wasted,” she says. “You pick up tactics as you go.”
ON THE ROLE THAT TAUGHT HER ALL SHE NEEDED TO KNOW TO SET UP HER LINE
My first job was for a company called Club 21, which represented brands such as Prada, Calvin Klein and Armani in the UK. I only worked for them for two years and then did something completely different for 15 years, but strangely it’s where I’ve drawn most of my knowledge from with regards to setting up Loquet London.
LIFE BEFORE LOQUET LONDON
I was a columnist/author/journalist for the best part of my adult life, writing about food and farming as well as other environmental lifestyle issues. There came a point in my late 30s where these issues where no longer delegated to a single columnist but were wide spread and many of our most revered chefs and journalists where making massive headway with these issues by bringing them to the forefront of journalism on a daily basis. I’d been writing about the same subject for 10 years so I decided to go back to university to complete a Masters in investigative journalism – which by the way is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Being a mature student with three smallish kids is virtually impossible. Afterwards I took what was meant to be a sabbatical and came up with the idea for Loquet London. After approaching my friend and partner Laura Bailey, together we quickly turned Loquet London from a concept into a collection and it took off. I had always planned to go back to journalism but still haven’t found the time!
WHY CHANGING CAREERS CAN BE A GOOD THING
Someone once told me that the average person changes career at least three to four times during his or her life. In the beginning, I was a little self-conscious by my dramatic career changes but looking back, it seems that everything you do has an influence on what you do next. Be it the wholesale side of fashion I learned about at Club 21, deadlines and the value of words in journalism, juggling an intense work load and children at university and so on. No experience is wasted. You pick up tactics as you go.
HER EARLIEST MEMORY OF JEWELLERY & WHAT INSPIRED HER TO START THE LINE
Making friendship bracelets in the school playground. Everyone loved to show off their symbolic alliances and nothing described those better than a colourful band that had been knotted with pledges. The inspiration for the brand came from a gift my son gave me that he bought at a fun fair. Not at all similar to what Loquet is, but something I wore and started to think about. The courage to start came from talking to my friend and partner, Laura Bailey. Her vision, experience and friendship were what turned Loquet from a concept into a collection.
THE WORKING DYNAMIC BETWEEN HER & LAURA
Laura is very much on the creative and media side. She will manage and set the tone for our visuals and look books. I’m more on the business side of things, So brand development, wholesale, web and the day- to-day running of the business as whole. We work closely together on product design as well as development of the creative aspect for packing and shop design.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DOING YOUR RESEARCH
I did two courses before I started the brand – a design course and a business course. I wanted to understand the process of making jewellery, even though I knew that the production of our jewellery would need to be able to be done by me. It’s important to have some sort of connection with the design and the actual process of its creation. The business course just re-affirmed what I’d learned at Club 21. It was sort of like a refresher course.
REMEMBER THAT OPINIONS ARE JUST THAT…
My accountant is a very wonderful protective man but perhaps it was down to my description that he didn’t seem too convinced at the idea, although as ever, was supportive as far as he could be. Loquet London was literally started at my kitchen table and established itself as worldwide business very quickly. In 3 years, we were trading across 5 continents, 25 countries and sold in over 70 of the highest end department stores and boutiques worldwide. It was a full-time business for me from the start. I financed the business myself. Before spending anything, I did a very careful business plan and came to a figure which I caped. I didn’t invest a single penny over that amount and paid my investment back in just over 12 months from our launch.
ON HER LAUNCH TEAM AND HOW IT’S EVOLVED SINCE
At launch we had 1 member of staff working 3 days a week. We increased the size of our business by partnering with a wholesale agent (who works on commission) and then six months in, signed with a PR agency. Our website was and is still developed by Studio Twig, which at the time of launch was a startup, just like us. They were up for anything and immediately jumped at the challenge of designing a jewelry website that gave its customers a completely interactive experience, on a level that didn’t really exist at the time. It was a new way of allowing online customers to design their own pieces, making fun and personal. I had been to see a few other established brand development agencies and explained what I was looking for, but their ideas weren’t as fresh and their quotes prohibitive for us a startup. These three separate agencies have been incremental to our growth and the reason we were able to keep the team fairly small to start with. We now have an in-house team of six people and continue to work with those agencies.
HER BIGGEST BUSINESS OBSTACLE TO DATE
Finding a good location for a shop in London. Not only do you have to get over the hurdle of growing your business to a level that can afford the rent but then you have to deal with the politics behind the institutions that own those shop fronts.
When you have a good idea, cheaper imitations are always going to pop up, but the design is very much reflected in the price. When I was starting Loquet, someone in the industry said to me “don’t get tempted to diversify. The way to have a successful business is to do one product that is better than anything else that is out there and focus on making it the very best.” And that’s exactly what we’ve tried to do.
HER NON-NEGOTIABLES IN BALANCING WORK & LIFE
The dis-advantage of working from home, as I did in the beginning, is that those lines are blurred. But as soon as we moved into an office, it was easier to draw clear boundaries, which is a much healthier way to do things. Laura wears a great many hats and juggles various projects at any one time. I can’t really speak for her but as a friend, it’s fair to say that family for both of us comes first. I think motherhood just makes you more organised, focused and extremely decisive. I rarely procrastinate, simply because I don’t have the time. Non-negotiables are birthdays, Christmas and parent teacher meetings. Also, the inevitable teenage crisis that pops up now and again…
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