With the retail sector one of the worst affected industries in the UK’s ‘new normal’ – and likely to be one of the most impacted by today’s announcement – brands are scrambling to find ways to get customers buying once more. However, while many are calling for increased funding to encourage High Street footfall, one independent jeweller – who closed her Bakewell boutique during lockdown – thinks this is a crucial moment for the broken retail sector to be remodelled.
Roseanna Croft, the founder, designer and maker at Roseanna Croft Jewellery, firmly believes that the issues for the industry had been a long-time coming. Rooted in problems of fast-fashion, mass-production, and poor-quality goods, Roseanna thinks that the realities of retail have set it up to fail.
Having owned her own jewellery store in Bakewell, Roseanna took the plunge to trade a High Street shop-front for a London studio space during lockdown. For her business, she’d already started to see the shift in buying habits and an appetite for the unique, but when the pandemic hit, the difference was instantly felt.
However, Roseanna is certain that shifting focus away from the ready-made market over to bespoke commissions is the right decision for her and her fellow independent makers. For the jewellery-designer, it is the crystal-clear solution for giving retail back its charm. Roseanna comments:
“Off-the-shelf goods answered a need in pre-pandemic times, when everything was all about speed and ease. However, I believe that lockdown – with its slower-pace and focus on priorities like health, family, and wellbeing – has provided consumers with a fresh perspective on what they want from the retail sector.
“We’ve seen a huge shift in ‘conscious consumerism’, where we collectively care more about communities, than we do about conglomerates. Indeed, in the new normal, it’s less about demanding ‘now!’ and more about asking ‘how?’: How is it made? How is it sourced? How long will it last? How will it impact the causes I care about? As a brand, the only option for survival is to make the move, and for us, this lies in the bespoke market.”
Roseanna believes that the jewel in her crown lies in making pieces to order, as this allows each customer the freedom to choose every element: from the band metal and width, to the stones’ cut and colour. Not only does this allow them to stay in control of the design, feel, and budget; but it also means that you can take into account requests for fair-trade, locally sourced, or recycled materials, to make each aspect more ethical.
For retail, Roseanna believes that bespoke pieces are also the key to unlocking experiential opportunities in post-Covid times. With social distancing, reduced capacity, and limited chances for in-person events, Roseanna thinks that the process of designing and making one-of-a-kind pieces fills the gap that’s left behind in giving customers an ‘experience’.
“Bespoke jewellery offers customers an opportunity to crystalise – quite literally – their personal stories. There is a special reason behind each commission, whether it’s to mark the start of a new chapter or celebrate a milestone along the way. Equally, with our ability to rework pieces, it also gives people the healing process of rewriting their stories: from redesigning an heirloom piece inherited from a loved one; through to reclaiming pieces from relationships past into jewellery you can love once more.
“By moving away from ready-made pieces, towards unique options, you put the power in the hands of the customer in a way that feels more personal, intimate, and authentic – elements that all of us have come to treasure more in recent months, more than ever before.”