5 Minutes With Katie Loxton, Founder, Katie Loxton

Since Katie Loxton founded her eponymous jewellery brand in 2008, it has tripled in size every year. In 2016, it opened its first franchise store, and another two soon followed. In late 2017, it launched its own ecommerce site just in time for the 10th anniversary. Retail Gazette caught up with Katie Loxton herself.

808
Katie Loxton

Tell me about Katie Loxton.

The journey began when me and my now husband Geoff took a break to travel across Far East Asia. In Vietnam, we stumbled across beautiful and unique pieces of jewellery, instantly knowing they’d be a success with the UK market. Throughout the rest of our travels we collected pieces of jewellery we loved and later in Beijing, discovered a market where you could sit and design your very own pieces from a stall covered with semi-precious stones and sparkling beads.

I spent the day creating a full collection of beautiful bracelets, necklaces and earrings and soon after travelled back home, hosting a jewellery party for friends and family to shop my pieces. With overwhelmingly positive feedback, we travelled back to our suppliers straight away and began designing new collections for our first brand Joma Jewellery. As Joma flourished we realised there was the opportunity to expand our ranges into multiple product categories.

We’ve always dreamt of creating a worldwide gifting brand that could become a one-stop shop for every customers’ gifting needs. It was here we began creating beautiful new ranges of accessories in both fashion and home, with sentiment behind each piece. This at the time coincided with me and Geoff marrying, and so the Katie Loxton name, and brand name was created.

What was it like when you launched your direct-to-consumer website in December 2017?

It was really exciting. We’ve had a wholesale model for a long time because we thought it was really important to develop a good working relationship with our stockists, while having a large branding power on the ground.

We understand that times are changing though, and understand the need to keep up with digital trends and offer our customer a great omnichannel experience. Our online customer is different to the one who buys through stockists and stores, which is positive and means we can target a growing audience.

What gap in the UK retail market does Katie Loxton strive to address?

When we set out on this journey there was a gap in the market for fashionable, contemporary products with meaning and heart behind them. Our dream is to create a beautiful gifting haven, and to successfully do this, it’s important to let the customer see the sentiment behind each piece.

“We understand the need to keep up with digital trends and offer our customer a great omnichannel experience.”

We always aim to create high-quality designs that have the ability to fill everyday life with moments of happiness, and our own positive outlook helps to inspire this. We also believe it’s important that our products are priced with an attainable price point – to ensure everybody can afford to have their own little luxuries.

What’s in store for Katie Loxton for the short term future?

Katie Loxton continues to grow and last year we expanded our business in the US, across the entire West Coast. In the UK, we have plans to open more franchise stores and our online platform continues to be a big focus for us, with a growing number of visitors. We are continuing to develop our relationship with independent stockists as well as expanding into new product categories, to give our customers more areas to shop.

How is Katie Loxton addressing some of the challenges facing UK retail?

I feel we are sitting in a strong retail position by making sure our products are at a really good and attainable price point, while also ensuring our pieces are still sentiment-focused, therefore offering something different to a lot of our competitors.

The retail industry continues to move online and digitally and that’s a big focus for us, but I believe a lot of our customers visit our stores as a premium gifting destination, which is really at the heart of our business, and so it’s important to ensure our presence on the high street is the best it can be.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?

Until we know what deal is made, it’s difficult to know how Brexit will affect us as a company. We’re a global business now and are always ensuring we can access markets in the best possible way, to give the best prices to all of our customers- this will be the biggest challenge if we do face a bad deal.

Describe your role and responsibilities as founder of Katie Loxton.

My job is to oversee all of the design and creative lead for the whole Katie Loxton brand as well as our sister brand Joma Jewellery. On a day-to-day basis I look at our product development, all the way from first sketches to product delivery. I work with our suppliers in China, to ensure they’re using lots of new and exciting materials and are developing products the way I envision.

I also look at the overall marketing perspective, making sure that visually and creatively the brand is tight and what we want it to look like. I also have to ensure as part of this that product design is relevant across the US and European markets, and appeal to their customers.

“It’s important to ensure our presence on the high street is the best it can be.”

My husband runs the business side, including decisions concerning everything from logistics to company finances. It means we split the responsibilities of the business, both using our personal expertise to create the best possible team.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Before starting Joma Jewellery I was working in London for a PR company. We were only 21 at the time so I hadn’t had a lot of experience in the working world but knew I wasn’t completely happy working within PR and wanted to find an opportunity that was different and exciting.

I’ve always been very creative and hands on, and have a love for fashion and jewellery, so it’s been great to put all of my energy into something I’m passionate about. It means that every day is exciting for me and I’m so happy to be able to work, doing something I absolutely love.

What got you into retail in the first place?

We stumbled into the retail business by chance. When we were travelling, we came across beautiful pieces of jewellery, and it was the love of the products and the creativity surrounding this that lead us down this path.

It’s been incredibly interesting to work within retail as well as very fast paced and rewarding. Personally, I love to move at a million miles an hour so it’s a fantastic industry that really suits my personality. The ever-changing environment means there’s always new developments and new trends, which really inspires me and the collections. I love the fact that we now have so many multi-category products, so I’m able to look at a number of different markets and gain a lot of inspiration from this.

How has your previous experience aided you?

I was lucky to work in London where it was fast-paced, and it taught me how to deal with an ever-changing workload and environment. However, nothing really prepared me for running my own business. I’m lucky to work alongside my husband, who is motivated and together we’re driven on creating and developing our brand. Before I set out on this journey I didn’t have a great deal of experience, so a lot of it was learnt as we went along, I think this is really special and makes our journey unique.

“Nothing really prepared me for running my own business.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The most challenging aspect is to continually develop new categories and keep the momentum high. It requires a lot of hard work behind the scenes from the product development team, and also a lot of liaising with China to create products we’re proud of, and what we envision them to look like when we design them.

And the most rewarding?

The most rewarding thing is to see all of the products and collections come together. We work really hard over six-month periods to create amazing full collections, carefully thinking of every aspect of what the customer would want to see, from gifting, self-purchases, statement designs, seasonal specials, and to make sure all occasions are covered. When you see all of this come together in the final collection, it’s very rewarding.

I also love visiting our concept stores and seeing our gifting haven come to life. It’s amazing to see all of our products in one place and neatly presented.

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

Be prepared for an incredibly fast-paced environment. I believe everyone should have a hard-work ethic and to love what they’re doing. If you can connect with your product, it’ll make the journey so much easier and enjoyable.

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette‘s free daily email newsletter