Our founders motivation for launching Loupe!
Bespoke jewellery designer, Amanda Mansell, reveals the motivation and core purpose behind Loupe, its journey so far, and why now is a good time to invest in a new business.
Why am I embarking on a new venture?
This venture has been in the planning since October 2017. Infact it was at the funereal of a dear friend and extremely talented jeweller, Nick Philippe, that I first became aware of a vacant Hatton Garden shop through a mutual jewellery friend. At that point Loupe was born!
This is not a sad tale, but one that celebrates the incredible skilled artisan community in London’s historic jewellery quarter - Hatton Garden, where its survival is dependent on preserving skills and sharing knowledge to future generations. This lies at the core of Loupe's purpose.
I have been extremely passionate about this for many years. First voiced in 2008 when I produced a film called 'For the love of it' in which Nick, myself, and fellow jewellery friends feature. Created long before video was used as widely as it is today, it is a delightful behind the scenes insight into the fascinating world of jewellery making.
What's happened since
The initial motivation has evolved considerably, ideas have been developed, and an incredibly detailed 190-page business plan has been produced. Yep, 190 pages!
That took a year. At times it felt like writing the sequel to War and Peace!
Then there has been various causes for delays in relation to the council owned premises. And no matter how detailed the business plan or how much preparation I undertook, some unexpected issues arose and a few curve balls were thrown, which were all very much out of my control.
Finally the long-awaited collection of keys to the premises arrived on 19 March 2020. Yippee!
23 March 2020. Lockdown. Dam.
Why am I still launching Loupe?
Those earlier delays are now very much viewed as a positive and the further four months of lockdown have provided time to re-evaluate, scrutinise and analyse Loupe’s position in the current landscape. I’ve observed the unfolding events and how businesses are responding to the challenges by watching numerous inspiring webinars, listening to podcasts and reading many articles. And so, after weighing everything up, I've decided to march on with my plans!
Am I crazy?!
I've mentioned my resilience on a few occasions before, and I'm not on my own, many business owners are showing huge resilience and pivoting their businesses to survive and even grow during these challenging times.
For nearly three years I’ve worked incredibly hard crafting Loupe. I have huge ambitions and the determination to make it succeed and grow. I refuse to give up on something I believe in and feel so passionate about.
But what about the impact of Covid-19 and the prospect of a recession?
Yes, these are uncertain times, but many businesses have started during a recession and some would argue it's a good time to start one. For example, Airbnb, Groupon, WhatsApp, Uber, Netflix, Zoopla and Brewdog all started during the 2008 financial crash, and evidently all went on to be hugely successful!
As we’ve collectively observed the unfolding events through lockdown, I think it’s fair to say that we have witnessed incredible support for small businesses. Although already a rising trend, Covid-19 has taken it to another level as these businesses also demonstrate their added value. I have experienced this myself as I’ve continued to receive bespoke jewellery commissions throughout lockdown.
This also relates to another growing trend to buy handmade products by skilled artisans to support UK manufacture, possibly further fueled by Covid-19 exposing the fragility of a global economy, and a trend that could perhaps further rise as we exit the EU.
Participating in creative activity has long been associated with relaxation and easing stress, this has resulted in increased popularity of arts and crafts workshops in recent years. During lockdown these workshops have moved online or to home making kits as more people access them for the associated calming benefits on anxiety during isolation and lockdown. And television programs such as the Great British Sewing Bee, The Pottery Throwdown, The Repair Shop, and the re-emergence of 1970’s art instructor Bob Ross and more recently Grayson Perry’s Art Club have also fueled this growing trend to participate in arts and crafts.
Such trends have always been the driving force behind Loupe’s mission, but these recent observations suggest they have been accelerated by Covid-19.
Lockdown has also provided the opportunity to make the practical modifications necessary to the complete re-fit of the premises to create a safe bricks-and-mortar environment. As well as integrating a deeper online presence to deliver a more enhanced joined up digital and physical consumer journey, which, now more than ever is essential for future proofing businesses and the high street.
But aren't shops and retail in trouble?
Yes, there have been great British institutions such as Woolworths and British Home Stores (BHS) closing their doors, and more recently John Lewis and Boots have fallen victim to Covid-19. So now, more than ever, there is a need for high street retailers to up their game, and it's the smaller brands that are doing it, because they are adapting and pivoting and responding to trends. They are creating destinations, offering experiences, and most importantly are not just another shop. Enter - Loupe!
"Physical retail isn't dead,
boring retail is"
Steve Denis, Forbes, Jan 2018
179 investors are helping make the dream of Loupe a reality!
Experts around the world have worked fast to produce a Covid-19 vaccine to be administered to everyone in the UK by spring 2021. By this time Loupe will almost be set up and in a very strong position to fly alongside the economy as it grows and navigates its way out of the recession. Stay tuned via the blog to be kept up to date!