Meet the Jeweller Marrying Craft and Retail
Carl Carter, founder of London Rocks, talks to us about knowing your trade and a having a passion for what you do.
Tell us a bit about London Rocks
We are a retail jewellery shop and workshop with a focus on bespoke designs. Most of our commissions are engagement ring and wedding band based and we offer traditionally made items with a modern aesthetic. We’re based in London’s Jewellery Quarter, Hatton Garden.
What was it that inspired you to set-up your own business?
Having started my apprenticeship when I was 15 years old, I had a solid knowledge of the jewellery trade and found myself making work for reputable jewellery companies but with no recognition of me as a maker or opportunity to create designs that I was passionate about. I wanted to be known independently for the items I was making and break down the hidden world of the workshop.
Goldsmithing is far from glamorous - we work with metal, extreme heat and chemicals - a real juxtaposition to the polished diamond rings people associate with our industry. The idea was to bring the jewellery workshop into a retail space and make the craft the forefront of our offering.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
There are always going to be challenges with any new endeavour. Finance and funding to grow the business alongside aspects such as rates and business taxes always are an uphill battle. Opening our new store last year was also a big, but worthy challenge. There were financial challenges as well as all of the other complications that arise when working with builders. We learnt a lot and definitely went the long way around certain aspects, but it was totally worth it.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
You have to have a passion for what you are trying to achieve and always keep that goal in sight. There will always be aspects to overcome whether it be financial, staffing issues, marketing or finding retail or work space. You need to work hard and expect slow growth, successful businesses do not happen overnight.
What is your proudest achievement to date as a company?
It has to be the opening of our retail and workshop space last November. Combining the shop with the workshop below has given the business the true visual impact it always deserved. We installed a glass panel in the shop floor which looks down on to the jewellers benches, creating an open kitchen style space. It was a long road and had multiple issues but business is good and having all our staff on one site has improved our efficiency.
Do you think an Entrepreneur ISA and a Small Business Savings Allowance would have helped aid your company's growth in the early stages?
Yes. Entrepreneurs can have great business ideas but with little or no funding it can be crippling and I imagine many people are reluctant to even entertain the idea of starting their own business because of the financial implications. Trying to make a living whilst putting as much cash aside as possible to grow the business can be a huge challenge at times, so having an infrastructure in place that aids this process certainly is a great idea. Ultimately growing new businesses and allowing them to blossom is growing the economy and in everyone’s interest.
Carl Carter is the founder and jeweller at London Rocks