Going from creative to accidental managing director
“When I came into this business, I was a creative entrepreneur. I designed, made and sold all of the jewellery,” says founder Rachel Jackson.
“But as the company grew, my role changed. I was spending just 5% of my time designing. I became the managing director, which was never my game plan,” she says.
As the sole founder, Jackson became used to making every business decision. “I was so used to being in control of everything that even after I had my first child River, I was taking calls a few days after her birth.”
Finding inspiration around the world
Jackson’s love affair with jewellery design began in 2009 when she travelled the world. She collected jewellery in the form of charms from every place that she visited – wearable memories and stories that could be shared in years to come.
She also met an inspirational woman called Cinderela Brancante in Brazil. “Cinderela is super sassy, has great style and I was in awe of how her family believes you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it,” says Jackson.
“My dream was always to make a living from something I felt passionate about, and I discovered this was jewellery. I started to make it in Brazil and Cinderela inspired me to pursue success on my return to the UK.”
Originally Jackson called her company Cinderela B but was later compelled to change the name to her own – a stronger proposition from a PR and marketing point of view. And also because Disney held the international trademark for the name Cinderela, also with one L.
A kitchen-table fairy tale
Jackson honed her work ethic in 2009 during her years single-handedly managing her market jewellery stall. Every Sunday, she would get up at 5am to set up her wares at London’s famous Spitalfields Market.
She worked in the music industry during the week. In the evenings and at weekends she’d design and make every piece of jewellery at her kitchen table.
“I was working seven days a week. Running the stall was hard physical work with pretty rotten conditions,” she recalls.
In two years, Jackson says, she never missed a single Sunday on her stall. Then she soon had her first wholesale order from a shop in Cheshire.
“From there I got the confidence to approach more and more stores,” she says. Eventually her jewellery was stocked in 150 outlets including Liberty’s, Fenwick and Warehouse.
I was MD, but I knew there were people who’d be much better at it than me
Rachel Jackson, Rachel Jackson London
The art of letting go
A turning point came when Jackson was selected for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses mini MBA programme, which connects entrepreneurs with mentors. Jackson cites this experience as being pivotal to her personal and professional growth.
“I realised that in order to grow it wasn’t possible to carry on wearing all these hats and it was time to take a step back. I was MD, but I knew there were people who’d be much better at it than me,” she explains.
Today, Jackson has a beautiful studio in central London and a team of 10, the most recent addition being a newly appointed managing director.
The timing couldn’t be better as Jackson is now on maternity leave for the second time. But this time, she says, she really sees the value in taking time away from the office and “letting people get on with it and find their feet”.
Since her leave, global reality megastar Kylie Jenner was photographed wearing a stack of Rachel Jackson letter necklaces. “Our Instagram blew up,” she says. “I was watching our followers just go up in their hundreds.”
The business is like my third child, she says. “I simply couldn’t ever cut myself off completely, but I think I’ve got the balance right this time and I can’t wait to return in my new role as creative director.”