It's been a while since my last post. This time of year is always extra manic with production and deliveries for Autumn Winter, as well as getting the new Spring Summer samples ready for our sales agents. Anyway, I have a series of posts about my summer in London coming up!

Through my work and travels, I am lucky enough to meet a lot of super creative people. Their work and histories are so inspiring, and I thought I would share some of them with you…

In the UK and Japan, the name Alex Monroe needs no introduction. His jewellery is stocked in department stores and the best boutiques. Open any magazine and his delicate, nature inspired jewellery is bound to grace a page or two.

We were often neighbours at the London Fashion Week Exhibition and I got to know sales and press manager Emma, as well as a preview of Alex's collections up close. It's been a while since Emma first mentioned that Alex Monroe was moving into a new space and I was excited to visit during my trip to London.

Alex himself kindly gave me a floor by floor tour of their new HQ which is an eco friendly, prefabricated structure constructed from timber panels.

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The boutique is on the ground floor and is where you can find the full collection as well as limited edition archive pieces, a wedding range, and a showroom for bespoke items.

It's quite a personal space in that the decoration, vintage display cabinets and props really celebrate the Britishness and nature which inspires Alex's work.

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I like how photos and sketches add a personal touch…

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Here are some of the Alex Monroe girls…

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HQ snippets…

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The showroom…

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The workshop. This is where Alex samples his new designs and creates bespoke pieces…everything else is still hand made at his old studio. Alex flies the flag for the great British tradition of craftsmanship and quality by maintaining all sampling and production in-house in London.

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The packing and despatch department…

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Emma and I!

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After the tour, we sat down in the showroom for a cup of tea and a chin wag. I got to ask Alex some questions…and Alex even practised his Cantonese! In case you're wondering, he can say "2 apples please"! Anyway…

When I think of Alex Monroe, I think of your famous bumble bee pendant. Do you have an all time favourite design?

Alex: No. Obviously the bumble bee has been very good for us but we have a strong signature style and we make hundreds of pieces a year so I prefer to look at the body of work rather than individual pieces. You need to be forward thinking. We’re always excited about what we’re going to do next.

Who would you like to see wearing Alex Monroe who hasn’t worn it already?

Alex: I always have 2 answers to that.

For me, I get the biggest skip of the heart if I’m out somewhere and I see someone dressed up looking fantastic and really happy, AND they’ve got a necklace. That’s what it’s all about.

We’re not really celebrity driven but then it’s always exciting when a celebrity wears our pieces. I love cycling so when Victoria Pendleton wore something it was great. I love Emma Watson and it’s lovely to see her growing up. We got told she was wearing our pieces too.

I love James Bond so it would be great if I was asked to do something for a James Bond film.

Emma: When we do see someone famous wearing Alex Monroe, we know they have actually purchased it and that makes it so much nicer. For us, it has an added thrill that they actually went out and bought it. That’s genuinely exciting.

Do you wear your own jewellery?

Alex: I don’t wear any jewellery, not even a belt. I don’t wear a watch…not anything.

How did you get into jewellery?

Alex: I wanted to do fashion but I wasn’t really good at it so I ended up doing jewellery by default as I thought it was the nearest thing to fashion, and I was good at making things. It was a lucky and happy coincidence really.

As a guy designing mainly for women, is there someone you turn to for feedback?

Alex: Emma is the key because Emma went through art school so she has a good eye. We have been working for so long so she understands the signature of what we’re trying to do. There’s 30 young women working in the business. We’re all quite close so we sit down together and chat…it’s very collaborative really.

I know Japan is a major market for you. Are there any differences in what your Japanese buyers like compared to your European buyers?

Emma: We used to make 2 collections. For the UK it was bigger and more obvious. For Japan, it was more delicate…little flowers, tiny animals… and now they’ve met in the middle where the Japanese customers like some of the bigger pieces and the British customer likes some of the teeny weenie pieces.

Alex: I would say there used to be a big difference. I think the UK has caught up. In Japan they understood what I was trying to do a long time ago. I would say I understand how to design for Asia but there are no big differences anymore.

It was when Emma came aboard that we decided to concentrate on the UK. Now it’s really popular in the UK and other brands are doing similar things but that’s quite nice as we’re always doing something new.

Everyone is now focussed on the China market. Have you got any plans for the Chinese market?

Alex: We tend to go for long term relationships with good stockists and I know that the brand would sell really well in China, but I don’t think it would be sensible for us to go in too fast and then end up making mistakes selling to the wrong places or not being able to keep up with demand. We have to be intelligent about how we’re going to enter China. We need to make sure we can do it properly.

Have you been to Hong Kong?

Alex: No but it’s definitely on the cards…maybe next year. The past year has been taken up with being busy writing a book. It’s about our jewellery, the brand and about me. It’s just being printed now and will be out in March 2014.


We look forward to Alex and Emma visiting Hong Kong in the near future and even more so, we look forward to seeing Alex Monroe’s jewellery in our fragrant harbour next spring (I can’t say more than that for now but the secret will be out of the bag in the coming months).

This interview has been edited for this blog.

The Alex Monroe Jewellery Boutique is at 37 Snowfields, London SE1 3SU.