Did you know, that up until fairly recently, Crown and Glory was very much operated by a one man band? I'd spent 2 years doing absolutely everything in the business - from designing and production to admin and accounts, photographing the products, sometimes modelling (!), writing the press releases and scheduling the social media. One of my favourite aspects of the job is how varied day to day life can be, but of course as Crown and Glory grew this was never going to be sustainable - for the business or my own sanity. As I started to build up finances and contacts behind me, I began investing in outsourcing certain aspects of the business; Abby took over all the niggly HTML coding tweaking the site required, Chloe became resident Crown and Glory photographer, Megan models our products so beautifully. All areas that I could pay, or call in very kind favours, for someone to do better than me, allowing me to concentrate on growing the brand.
I've been referring to Crown and Glory as 'we' for a while now; having a big studio team has always been a part of the long term plan. Truthfully, I've needed a full time member of staff for the last 6 months; but finances dictated in me working 15 hour days, weekends, not having a holiday since September 2011. Crown and Glory has been paying me a decent wage for the last 12 months or so, and allowed me to invest back into the business, but hiring someone full time was a scary and costly step.
When Gareth, my 'real life' partner, got suddenly made redundant at the start of May, I'll be utterly truthful here in saying that my world came crashing down. While we don't have ties like kids and a mortgage, we still have rent and bills to pay like anybody else. Have you guys seen the price of food these days?! Business had been going steady and strong, but the thought of it being our only source of income was incredibly terrifying. It just so happened that at the start of May, we had an influx of wholesale orders and a lot of website sales - so inbetween job hunting, Gareth would be jumping into the office to help ease the stress a bit; packing orders, sorting stock, organising my (albeit chaotic) ordering system. Having a constant pair of hands was like a breath of fresh air. Having someone in the office to take over if I needed to step out for the day was a Godsend! Suddenly, I had to time to spend on the business, and not just neck deep in the business, making sure it stayed afloat. I'm sure you guys can see what's coming....
I'm so excited to announce that Gareth is now a partner in Crown and Glory! While his redundancy was a shock and a terrifying step, it was actually a blessing in disguise - I'm never going to find someone as dedicated to ensuring the business succeeds as he is. He's been supporting me, encouraging me with business decisions ever since the get go of the brand; without his constant coercing and reassurance I don't think there'd be a business in the first place.
So is a 6'1" Welsh rugby player the natural choice for such a female-driven brand? Well, actually, yes. His masculine input has already improved the business no end. His left-brained manner brings a methodical, organised approach - a few simple tweaks he has implemented has halved our time and resources spent on logistics, from processing orders to stock control. Gareth now also heads production of our core collection - so if you order a floral headband or crown, chances are they've been made by his meticulous and disciplined hands. He's even implemented a few tweaks to materials and systems to improve the quality of the products - having a second pair of eyes over something is so useful.
For some people, working with their spouse would either kill them, or make them kill one another. But Gareth and I met, all those many moons ago, when he joined the workforce at a bar I was working at in uni. He has such patience if I start having a panic that schedules are too tight and lead times are too short, a definite voice of reason to calm my highly strung sensibilities. I'm very organised by nature, have a memory like an elephant and am able to prioritise with ease, which is something he struggles with due to dyslexia.
So, you may notice a few changes around here, but all for the better I can assure you. Gareth is able to make my designs and dreams for products a reality, organising stock levels and order management. Which leaves me more time to design, to promote, to continue to build the brand at the rate we've become accustomed too. And yes Cookie, that means reading magazines while you build us yet another set of storage solutions ;)
Photos by Lisa Devlin. Full shoot coming soon!