It’s rarely easy to create a buzz about a brand, but owners who know how to do it can reap serious dividends. We asked three UK businesswomen to share the imaginative ways that they’ve created interest.
No matter what your enterprise, you need a steady flow of customers to survive.
Mari Thomas, a celebrated Welsh contemporary jeweller based in Carmarthenshire, was quick to catch on to this when she started out 20 years ago in a very competitive field.
Having set up a small workshop in a shed at the bottom of her parents’ garden, Thomas set her sights on designing the crown for the National Eisteddfod, Wales’s famous arts festival. “I was a finalist in the craft and design competition, and that provided me with a very wide platform and a lot of publicity, which has continued ever since,” she says. “I then went on to win a prize at the National Eisteddfod in 2001 and the gold medal in 2003.”
The jeweller always has an eye on where the next flurry of interest in her brand may come from, and says she has learned during her career what really works. Affiliations with celebrities have been helpful – she has created pieces for a wide variety of artists, from Sting to Aled Jones, and benefited from the resulting PR – but Thomas says she likes to think outside the box, too. For example, she decided to send one of her Eisteddfod crowns on a touring exhibition around Wales – something that had never been done before. It helped put a shining example of her craftsmanship in front of thousands of people who might never have seen it otherwise.
Equally proactive was the time she left a small piece of jewellery on display at the Welsh government offices in the Chrysler Building in New York. It was seen by the then director of the Welsh National Opera, who went on to ask Thomas to design a pair of wedding rings for him. “That snowballed and ultimately led to me working on rugby’s Prince William Cup, which meant phone calls from Clarence House and from Nelson Mandela’s office,” says Thomas.
“If you’re struggling to see where your next bit of interest will come from, try and look at your business from the outside looking in. You can often go around in circles when you’re in the middle of running your own business, so talk to people about how they perceive what you do and it will give you new ideas about how to get your message across.”