Anneke Short is co-founder and designer of British independent brand The Camden Watch Company – www.camdenwatchcompany.com. The other half of the company being her husband Jerome Robert.
Anneke is a designer, in particular a watch designer trained in Switzerland who trained in Switzerland and holds a Swiss CFC from the art school of La Chaux-de-Fonds. She and Jerome are the parents of two young children.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I was studying in Switzerland when I met Jerome. We were working together on designing watches, jewellery, and homeware for top brands (with price points ranging from £100 to £1 million). In 2010, we moved to London, where I worked for a British watch company as their lead designer. Not long after, we decided to launch our own design company, AMS Design Studio, designing luxury products such as watches and jewellery for various Swiss and British clients.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Jerome and I originally launched the brand as a showcase for our design studio (which we opened in 2010), as a way to show potential clients what we could do. We worked hard to make each product the best it could be, and we used something we know and love as inspiration: Camden Town. And because it started as a showcase, it meant that we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. We didn’t need to worry about how commercial the products were.
How did you achieve awareness?
It was a combination of a lot of different elements, and of course a lot of good old fashioned hard work. A major factor for us in creating awareness was having our pop-ups and our stores. It was an excellent way for us to launch the brand, and has continued to be a great way to showcase the company to a wide range of customers who may not have known about us otherwise. And of course social media, Instagram in particular has been a major channel for us.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We are entirely self-funded and have been from the get-go. We’ve often been approached by investors but it’s never really seemed like the right time, maybe it will never be the right time. As it stands, we’re proud to have done this all ourselves. It’s just been about growing slowly, organically, taking measured risks, we’re not chasing a big exit so we’re in so rush.
What are the key successes?
We’ve had a few moments that have really helped lift us to the next level. Firstly was when we officially opened our first permanent store in camden market. It really helped establish us as a real business, in it for the long haul.
We’ve also had some key customers purchase our watches, online influencers, international footballers, actors such as Martin Freeman. In the world we live in, getting the right person to post your product online can make a massive difference.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
When we first opened our flagship store, it worked so much better than expected that we ended up selling out of the majority of our models. It sounds like a great problem to have, and in some ways it is, but that’s also a lot of lost income, not to mentioned confused customers visiting a store where they couldn’t actually purchase a lot of what we had on offer. We overcame this by learning from it, we paid more attention to our stock levels, upcoming events, anything that could affect the sales. Any challenges since have been approached in the same manner. Either something is successful, or you learn from it, either way, it makes you better.
What are your plans now/for the future?
It may sound boring to some, but my biggest wish would just be to keep doing what we’re doing. We have some really exciting collaborations coming up, and some great new models, but if in 5 years time I’m still doing exactly what I’m doing today, I’d be a happy camper.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
It definitely takes a certain type of person to be an entrepreneur, but the fact is, if you’ve already considered launching your own business, then chances are you are that kind of person. I’m not going to lie – it’s far from easy, but the rewards are so worth it. What is it they say? At the end of the day, you only regret the things you didn’t do.
Can you share you top 5-10 tips for entrepreneurial success?
- It’s not about being everything to everyone, find your niche.
- Take care of your staff, they are the backbone of your business.
- Great customer service is no longer a plus it’s a minimum
- Being cheaper than competitors it not a strategy is just a race to the bottom
- Have a clear idea of where you want your business to go but equally be prepared to be flexible, your greatest strength is your size. Being small makes you nimble.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
It may be a bit cliche, but I’m going to have to say my mum, Eleanor Adams. She stayed at home to look after me and my brother and went on to have a massively successful career in sales. She’s pretty amazing. (LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/eleanor-adams-38216a12/)
I’m a big fan of Genevieve Taylor, she’s an author and a cook (over fire). She’s a great example of a woman kicking arse in a very male dominated environment. (Instagram @genevieveeats)
Becky and Huw over at Paynter Jacket are very cool, they are doing great things and are an excellent example for creating a transparent and involved customer experience (instagram @paynterjacket
Alice, I know nothing about her other than the fact that she’s a ridiculously talented artist, her feed is so detailed and full of the things you don’t usually see, the making-of her art and the instrument she uses. Her before and afters make me swoon (Instagram @alicelovesdrawings).
I love Gemma from Mutha.Hood, she’s bonkers, (in the best way possible), and her feed is a real, truthful insight into what it’s actually like to run a small business (Instagram @mutha.hood)
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
I know it’s not strictly about business, but as a mother to two young children, I have one quote that I love and I live by every day.
“Your children become who you are, so be the person you want them to be.”
Even if you aren’t a parent, the sentiment can be understood, and it can be applied to entrepreneurship as well. What would the ideal business owner look like to you? How would they react in this situation? What would they say about that contract? How would they deal with that tricky customer? Think about it, and then be that ideal business owner.
Being able to step outside yourself and access a situation is a huge skill to have and one that can be very powerful indeed.
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
Company Twitter https://twitter.com/camdenwatchco
Company Instagram https://www.instagram.com/camdenwatchco
Personal Twitter https://twitter.com/annekeshort
Personal Instagram https://www.instagram.com/annekeshort
Personal LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/anneke-short-9a450221
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