Guy Morey of G&M Jewellery, Ryde
“Buy Your Own Shop!” said Guy Morey.
Buying our premises as soon as we could was our best decision. We've never moved since.
Like so many businesses, we'd previously been renting. But we saw this rather run-down shop and that started a line of thought...
It was in the right place, on the outskirts of town. It was also the right size.
We bought it with help from an old-style bank manager. We showed him our accounts and he agreed to look around. He understood what we wanted to do and said yes there and then. And six months later, we were open.
Ever since we paid off the mortgage (which took about five years) our costs have been low.
We arranged the shop-front to be cosy, rather than the large spaces most other jewellers have. That means that we make more sales per square foot than town centre shops.
As a result we have around 70% repeat business. It's a small Island – if you look after your clients, they'll look after you.
Over the years, we have been able to modify our workshop as we've grown, without asking a landlord's permission. And now we are opening a new studio offering jewellery workshops – very exciting!
Commentary from Dave Simon
Most Island businesses employ less than 10 people.
Nationally, 96% of businesses are micro-businesses, employing 0-9 people. They provide nearly a third of all jobs and nearly a fifth of all UK taxes.
Two thirds are family-owned. They employ more Island people than the national chains.
Over half of the money independent retailers make goes back into the local community, compared to just 5% from supermarkets.
They are more committed to long-term sustainability and prosperity. They are more stable, particularly in recessions. Even so, profits are declining.
Family businesses outperform other companies. Sir John Harvey-Jones, star of the 'TroubleShooter' BBC show said “they really benefit from wholehearted commitment and involvement”.
So they put their money where their mouth is. Many work weekends and skip holidays. Most owners use personal savings or re-mortgage their homes to keep their businesses afloat.
And they are independent and proud of it. Most have never received financial or other support from the state. They are shy about asking for outside help.
Like honey-bees, they support us all but risk dying so quietly we don't notice until it's too late.
These heroes deserve our encouragement.
So promise yourself to shop locally more often!
Guy Morey continues:
I Started Early!
I've been a jeweller since the age of 10.
My father worked in JS White's shipyard and my mother was artistic. I got interested in shells and fossils, and then moved on to crystals. Later my fascination turned to cut stones and mounts. I did do a summer's metalworking at the Wootton boatyard but I knew I wanted to go to Art College.
I met Menna, now my wife, at College and we discovered we shared an interest in jewellery-making. So it all became a natural progression to set up business together.
Art, Skill, Technology
Jewellery is a craft. It is applied science and technology mixed with art. It is skills-based – you use your hands. And the art side of it gives you a great desire to make things – you need to keep producing new items. I'm always tempted by the next project!
Art and business are not easy bed-fellows. But working on both angles is essential. Without a profit, I can't make more jewellery. It has to be there to help on a rainy day – or an opportunity like buying your next shop. We live by the motto 'if you can't afford it, don't do it!'.
People Need Profit
As a micro-business, we have very few milestones to celebrate. We are not aiming to grow, or seeking awards or getting huge orders. So we need something to make it feel worthwhile – some sort of reward. After all, we get no sick pay or compensation if a customer sacks us!
So profit is actually the glue that holds the business together. That's what makes us feel we are doing the right thing. It lets us take several small rewards or one big one.
Jewellery is a bit different from other business – I bet they all say that! - but our materials appreciate. The gold, silver, diamonds and other gems generally increase in value, whereas most other business's materials lose money over time as they get rusty or go out of fashion.
Jewellers Stay Cool
So that's another reason why I have very few worries. Really, I only get scared by the thought of work drying up. Or getting a design so wrong that a client is really unhappy and tells lots of people. But that's easy to avoid - we do lots of drawings and even make a maquette (a small-scale model) before starting on the real thing.
Mind you, doing repair-work on extremely valuable jewellery can be a bit nerve-wracking! But when it comes down to it, you just have to focus on the job. Then all your training and experience comes into play, and you just do it without worrying.
In an industry where skills are so important for individual handmade products, mentoring is vital. I was fortunate to get some first-rate help in using the traditional methods of setting stones and metalworking skills. In turn, I have had a number of 'improvers'. I think we have a professional responsibility to pass on the craft – free of charge, too.
The Jam is Squeezed Out
The Island seems to be squeezed and all the jam is taken away by national chains – even the tourist money. I feel we need to make the Isle of Wight more appealing. Maybe we need to promote it as a place for nostalgia, traditional values and generous welcome.
And maybe, because the Island is a difficult place for heavy industry, we can be a Craft Island. Imagine lots and lots of kitchen-table industries all promoting their individuality. Imagine every household having its own money-making project. Just as they did in the old days before industrialisation. It wouldn't need to interfere with jobs – a few hours here or there. Imagine the fun and the pride that would bring, too.