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An Invitation to Laugh

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

A while ago, I had a session with a branding expert, because I felt I really needed some advice, and wanted a professional opinion of what my business looked like to an outsider. In the course of our conversation, she asked me what I eventually wanted Halo Jewellery to be. I told her that I wanted to be the John Lewis of handmade jewellery. For those of you who aren't UK based and may not have heard of it, John Lewis is an icon of British retail, known for its quality and service, loved and venerated by employees and customers alike.

She laughed. No, not at all unkindly, but she was clearly amused that a small business just starting out could have such lofty dreams. I’m reminded of a quote someone mentioned to me - “If people aren’t laughing at your dreams, your dreams aren’t big enough.”

But then she understood. I explained that I wouldn’t dream of being the John Lewis of handmade jewellery in size. I’m very happy to be a niche business, with a carefully designed selection of handmade jewellery. But here’s where I do want to be like them.

Not once, and I really mean not once, have I asked someone from John Lewis for something and been dismissed with a response like “go to that aisle there” or words to that effect. The person serving me has always taken the trouble to take me to the place where I would find what I was looking for, sometimes even talked me through the various types of curtain material or coffee-makers or whatever I fancied.

I want to provide a service like that. I want my customers to remember me years after they’ve bought their jewellery and say “wasn’t she great!” I want to go that extra mile, and not just because it helps me towards my 10,000 steps per day.

When I bought some non-stick pans with a lifetime guarantee, the man at the till told me take a photo of my receipt because, he said, the receipts fade over time. The pans will no doubt be forgotten as I move on to my latest kitchen crush, but the sincerity of the person who served me will stay with me for a long time. John Lewis really wants that lifetime guarantee to be a lifetime.

Ultimately almost every business is a service business, even if it’s selling physical products. Amazon’s delivery service is why I can't let go of it, not because of its products. And as far as jewellery is concerned, we all know that there’s plenty of beautiful jewellery in the world. So what’s going to make me stand out from the crowd?

It’s whether I keep my word about when I said I would post an order; whether I respond to complaints or bad reviews with grace; how I handle a request for a return; what I say when I can’t make something that a customer is asking me to make – it’s these things that will stick in a person’s mind, not my introductory discount.

And that’s why I’m inviting you to laugh at me – because I know I’m dreaming big. John Lewis is over 150 years old, so I have a lot of catching up to do. But every accomplishment starts with an aspiration; and while I recognise that getting there will be a challenge, without that aspiration, I'll have nothing to aim for.

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