Susannah Chenevix-Trench is a qualified gemmologist and designer with more than 23 years’ experience in bespoke, re-design and remodelling jewellery. She runs Chenevix Jewellery on Market Hill, Woodbridge.
What would you say are the top skills needed to run a successful business?
I would say good leadership with confidence in your product or service, excellent customer relationship and sales skills and honesty and integrity.
Describe/outline your typical day?
While my colleague is setting up the shop I will be checking through emails and online orders. I make a list every morning of the jobs to be done and mark those to be achieved during that day. We fulfil orders from our online shop, deal with email enquiries and check up on repairs and commission projects. We look after customers who come into the shop. Wednesdays are dedicated to design work and generally I will be working on four or five projects at a time doing either drawings, co-ordinating CAD designs, sourcing stones or liaising with our goldsmith and workshop for the various ongoing projects I am currently working on.
What motivates you?
My environment, lifestyle and quality of life motivates me. My shop is based in a medieval building overlooking the pretty Market Square and church. This picturesque, bustling atmosphere, contrasts with the peaceful hamlet where I live overlooking the Deben River. Being surrounded by wildlife and nature is highly inspirational for my work.
How do you build a successful customer base?
We aim to make buying our jewellery a thoroughly relaxed, enjoyable and stress-free experience. Providing a top quality personal service in an informal atmosphere makes our customers feel special no matter how large or small the purchase.
Many of our products are unique and individual, important qualities to me include that of design, service and the “pleasure in purchasing” aspect of selling luxury items.
My reputation has been built on customers consistently returning either to the shop or online and bringing their friends with them to enjoy the same experience.
Clients return seasonally for a new look or colour, they love seeing what is in the new collections and I like to make the whole buying experience a relaxed and social event where they can try on different looks and feel comfortable and unpressurised.
I am happy that I have such a loyal customer base who return on a very regular basis. Our many word of mouth recommendations continues to build our strong customer base both locally and from afar.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
This is too big a question, but off the top of my head Lady Jane Digby would have been an interesting person to meet – wild, brave and bold, intelligent but ruled by her heart.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My father. He instilled in me the beauty of the natural world, honesty, integrity, kindness and compassion. His qualities are my inspiration.
What is your favourite book and why?
I have many, one of them would be An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan – an amazing triumph of human endurance.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Seeing the joy on my client’s face when I show them their bespoke piece of jewellery. The creation of a sentimental future heirloom makes all the hours of care worthwhile.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
My hobbies include gemmology, walking, photography and having quality escape time with my family and friends. Having lived in London and the Far East for many years it is important to me to keep in touch with my long distance friends too.
What makes you happy?
Family, friends and being in wild and beautiful countryside.
Where you see yourself and your business in five years? 10 years?
In the short-term we continue to expand our design and bespoke business and streamline our systems. In the longer term we may consider having a base in London too as many of our clients are there.
What do you most love about living and working in Woodbridge?
Woodbridge is a friendly, supportive community with a wonderful quality of life being near the river, the sea and the forest – there is a lot of inspiration on the doorstep.
What exciting news is happening for you, your employees or your business in the next few months?
We have some interesting and exciting commission work on at present. We are also re-launching our brand new website in the Spring and have some really pretty new colours coming up in our Spring / Summer collection.