Two events hosted by the Women’s Jewellery Network (WJN) to mark International Women’s Day have raised crucial discussions in the UK trade centred on the opportunities for growth and development of women working in the UK industry.
Held at London’s Goldsmiths’ Centre and Birmingham’s AnchorCert Academy, the WJN brought together figures from across the UK jewellery industry to discuss how the trade can better support and develop the careers and ambitions of women in jewellery, both now and in the future.
Victoria McKay, founder of the WJN, says: “Feedback from our attendees has been hugely positive – the discussions were challenging yet motivating, revealing the issues and concerns of women working in our industry, from internal competition, to loneliness and archaic company attitudes towards maternity and paternity leave.
With many audience members staying behind to share their viewpoints and stories with guests and panellists, it was clear these two events achieved their aim – connecting women in the UK industry and inspiring open and honest discussions.”
In London, conversation focused on mentoring, trade and employer support, and the evolving desires and expectations of women jewellery consumers.
Beanie Major, founder of jewellery platform In Detail, was moderator of a panel that included award-winning British designer Alex Monroe, Emma Burgin, COO of the Alex Monroe brand, accessories designer and former WGSN accessories director Jacqui Ma, and Kate Flitcroft, head of jewellery sales at auction house Lyon & Turnbull.
Tickets to the London event sold out within just three days, with guests from Garrard, the NAJ, Swatch Group, and the Financial Times in attendance, alongside a number of award-winning and emerging jewellery designers.
In Birmingham, audience members attended a panel discussion chaired by Professor Marylyn Carrigan, and featuring Professional Jeweller editor Stacey Hailes, CMJ executive director of business development and marketing Lucy Reece-Raybould, National Association of Jewellers’ Kickstarter of the Year 2017 award winner Farrah Al-Dujaili, and industry consultant Michael Donaldson, with keynote speaker Stella Layton.
The evening’s topics covered mentoring in the UK industry, making traditional trade networks more accessible to women, and commitments to evolve company culture and leadership. The evening drew a series of attendees from the industry, including Assay Master Doug Henry, NAJ CEO Simon Forrester, WB The Creative Jewellery Group managing director Andrew Morton, Domino creative director Naomi Sherlock-Cooke, and BCU tutor Kate Thorley.
Nyasha Pitt, WJN Midlands Ambassador, says: “I’m grateful to everyone who came to celebrate International Women’s Day with us at AnchorCert Academy, debating issues faced by women in the jewellery industry, at our first WJN event in the Midlands. The evening was enlightening and thought-provoking; the audience was engaged, and we were all able to have a respectful and stimulating debate. It’s really encouraging that we had senior female and male jewellery industry leaders taking part in the debate also, and that all agreed that together, we are stronger.
From here, the WJN will enter into a series of discussions with trade bodies with a view to working together to achieve positive outcomes for women in industry, with further localised events and meet-ups planned for WJN members in the second quarter of 2018.
Those interested in knowing more can register their interest online at: womensjewellerynetwork.com